Home Blog & Media Self-Care in the Time of COVID-19: Chronicles from an Extrovert

Self-Care in the Time of COVID-19: Chronicles from an Extrovert

April 7, 2020

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Paige Winn

Learning and Development Specialist
FHI 360

If you’re an extrovert like me and need people and a little commotion to get you through your day, being quarantined 24/7 is rough—especially when your home becomes the round-the-clock source for dining, entertainment, sleeping and work. Even if you’re more inclined to introversion, human interaction for optimal health and well-being is essential. The remote workspace is presenting many challenges—especially around self-care. Fears about the future, concerns for friends and relatives, and anxiety about personal health are just a few of the worries weighing on our minds. It’s hard for me to find focus and for many others I know.

On a brighter note, the hours I’ve saved on commuting give me extra time in the day to do some things I’ve been ignoring. I have no excuses to skip a morning yoga video. I can make a nice breakfast and linger over coffee before starting work. And technology has helped me come up with some creative ways to stay connected with my favorite people. Here are some self-care tips that are working for me.

First, I stay connected. I have text groups going with friends where we share cat videos, recipes, and the latest quarantine memes. I have a standing Zoom date with friends on Saturdays where we play a card game via an app. Create your own card games with sites like Playing Cards, or have a virtual movie night with friends via Netflix Party (where available). And sometimes I just pack my dog in the car and go for a ride with the windows down, admiring spring blossoms here in North Carolina.

I stay connected to my colleagues too. We’ve created social channels on Microsoft Teams (you can read about this in Gus Curran’s post, How to Succeed in a Remote Work Environment). Find a check-in buddy and occasionally touch base to see how things are going, both workwise and personally. My team has been taking time at the beginning of our meetings for warm-ups and ice breakers. Since we’re missing informal chats around the coffee maker, this gives us a chance to continue building trust and collaboration skills, which are crucial for effective work relationships.

Second, I’m finding my rhythm (a work in progress). I recently led a virtual workshop on self-care in the remote workplace. I asked participants to share what was easy about this on the whiteboard, and many shared that the flexible schedule was great. I then asked them what was challenging, and just as many said that the lack of routine was difficult. So instead of a strict routine, I’m working on finding my rhythm—discovering new ways to go through my days. It helps to have a few set rules; for example, I know working in PJs is appealing, but it’s a slippery slope! I dress like it’s super-casual Friday each day—it helps me feel a little more normal. One of my colleagues shared that she starts her day at 5:30 a.m. and works for two hours before her kids wake up. By the time others are online, she’s taken care of a good deal of her work and can help her kids start their day. Find a routine or rhythm that works for you—and don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t stick to it every day.

Third, I’ve made a list of things that bring me joy. Being outside tops the list, so I’m writing this post in my back garden, finding inspiration in the sunshine! Having music or a podcast on in the background while I’m working also appeals to the extrovert in me. I look forward to my virtual coffee breaks with friends and colleagues. And it’s a great time to get outside and dig in the dirt—many garden centers have curbside pick-up so gardeners can still get what they need to sow. Growing your own food is an added perk during quarantine—fewer trips to the grocery store!

What activities are on your self-care list? Here are a few to consider. Visit an online exhibit at museums all over the world, or download the Banksy Bristol Trail app to virtually visit some of Banksy’s most famous works. Ramp up your comfort food cooking skills. Find a free yoga or dance party on Instagram, or practice on your own with a YouTube guided session (I like Yoga with Adrienne). Start curating ideas for your first post-quarantine outing with a vision board using Trello or Pinterest. Dust off your craft supplies, break out a puzzle, or tackle an item from your DIY list. If you need more inspiration for finding your joy, check out these free or low-cost ideas from Thrive Global or view this video to turn your time at home into a Self-Care Staycation.

And finally, I’ve created a system that works for me to remind me to actually do the things that support self-care. I need something easy. While I want to be one of those people who uses bullet journals or elaborate self-care checklists, I know my reality. I’m far more likely to do something if I jot down a few items on paper—or even set one intention in my head when waking up in the morning. Still, having extra time each day has me experimenting with a few fun checklists, including this creative site. Or you might make your own self-care BINGO card and aim to get BINGO once a day. Find the system that works for you! And when your children are feeling down, see this great Stay at Home Care package for kids.

Once I’ve added activities to my list, I have to remember to take breaks to enjoy them—especially during the workday. Luckily, I have a built-in timer (see photo) who reminds me to get up from my desk every so often to take a walk, play fetch, or visit the treat box. Poppy, along with millions of other pets, is doing just fine under quarantine, loving the extra attention!

A few more resources to add to your self-care routine (or get you started):

I’d love to hear from other extroverts—as well as introverts—on how you’re coping. What are you doing to stay connected? Where are you finding your joy in this challenging period? Share your comments below or find me on Humentum Connect.

Also, join this upcoming webinar on May 7th, 2020: Self-Care in the (remote!) Workplace