I’ve been in some dark places these last several months—both literally and figuratively. During the spring months, after long days of working from home while managing the household and distance learning for multiple children, I would disappear in the evenings to the dark cave of my room. Even this summer, with so much going on and the days feeling overwhelming, I tend to disappear into the dark by myself.
I know this is not healthy, so I am making some changes. If happiness and self-care are not coming to me, then I am going to work harder to make a plan, be happy, and get out in the sunlight as much as possible. Whether it’s getting outside, reading a good book, having an hour of self-pampering, or talking to an old friend, I am going to make things bright again.
In turn, this will make me a better person, wife, and mom. Here is what I am doing to take time for myself and to be happy, and I hope it helps others to take time to do the same.
1. Exercise and find a sport that I love.
For me, a tough workout makes my mood boost and gives me a sense of accomplishment. In the last couple of years, I discovered tennis, and it has become a significant part of my life and something I am doing for myself to get in shape, build confidence, and create lasting friendships from being part of a team. When I walk out on the court, I am focused only on the sport, and my other thoughts and troubles are temporarily pushed aside.
Being able to clear my mind has helped immensely during these times of increased stress and anxiety. Other high-intensity exercises such as biking and aerobic workouts with weights are beneficial for my mind and body. Calming exercises like yoga and Pilates help to lift my mood as well.
2. Make as many connections as possible with friends, old and new.
Taking time away to call or Zoom with friends near and far is a great way for me to recharge and relax. During this pandemic, it is so easy to feel isolated. Connecting with friends gives me time to vent and express my feelings in a way that I’m just not able to with my family. It makes me hopeful about the future as we talk about future trips to visit one another and connect in person.
I find that it has been easy to drift apart from my local friends as well because we aren’t running into each other at school or coffee shops or out in the community. So, sometimes it helps to have a glass of wine and FaceTime with a good friend and talk through everything that is going on. With a lot of restaurants offering outdoor patio service, this is a great option for a meeting up with a friend.
3. Take care of myself.
If I’m not able to run out to the spa or salon, then I am going to make time to do it at home. I’ve even had my hairdresser out to my back patio for a much-needed haircut. Hair, nail, and skin treatments are a great way to relax by myself, but I’ve also found it’s quality time spent with my two daughters.
4. Get organized and write in a journal.
Taking time away from other obligations and just writing down my thoughts and feelings has helped so much with my mental health. I’ve found myself writing about my worries, what I am thankful for, poems, and even lists of projects to tackle, and a timeline to do so helps me feel organized and in more in control, which in turn is a boost to my overall mood.
5. Read great books and share them with friends and family.
On a recent Zoom call with my extended family, we all shared book ideas and made lists of our favorites to read and discuss together. I decided to do the same with friends and started an online book club, which is a highly anticipated time away and something I enjoy on my own. I find that part of taking care of myself is to escape reality, even if it’s for short periods, and there is no better escape than into the world of a great story.