You know that feeling when you talk to a very close friend who needs you? How you listen with your whole being and do all you can to help, even if that means cracking a joke or shedding a tear? That kind of attention is also what we need to give our own selves right now, even if it’s just for a few moments every day. Be your own bestie.
Here are a few ideas, including many from fellow Cocoflossers, for how to care for your body, mind, and spirit during this era of social distancing. They’ll help you to stay sane, cultivate wellness, and maybe even have some much-needed fun — no matter what’s going on in the world.
Rather than view this like another to-do list, please consider it a friendly menu of self-care. Sometimes you want a healthy salad, sometimes you’d rather just order a brownie sundae with sprinkles. All options are totally fine right now. 🍨
That’s right. Give yourself permission to just be. Many articles promote ways to be super productive during your time at home, complete with color-coded schedules. If that’s your mojo, go for it. But if something deep inside is saying “enough,” then just stop.
“It’s tough enough to be productive in the best of times let alone when we’re in a global crisis,” said Chris Bailey, a productivity consultant and the author of “Hyperfocus: How to Manage Your Attention in a World of Distraction,” in the New York Times.
But how do you “do nothing”? According to writer Jenny Odell in her book “How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy,” try birdwatching, if your living space allows it, or “take a walk and learn about the history of your neighborhood … Notice the continual labor of upkeep, the productive work of ‘maintenance and care’ that sustains life in the place where you live.”
In “30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans,” Cornell University gerontologist Karl Pillemer sums up one piece of advice — savoring small daily pleasures — from the many elders he interviewed this way:
“A morning cup of coffee, a warm bed on a winter night, a brightly colored bird feeding on the lawn, an unexpected letter from a friend, even a favorite song on the radio. Paying special attention to these ‘microlevel’ events forms a fabric of happiness that lifts them up daily. They believe the same can be true for younger people as well.”
Cocoflosser Winifred Choi seems to practice this herself: “I just take a step out into my backyard! It's surprising how nice it is for a brief breath of fresh air. A silver lining of this quarantine is the increased mindfulness of what you already have around you.”
“I have been doing more meditation and breathwork!” says Cocoflosser Jessica Berry. Concentrating on your breathing can reduce fear and anxiety, calm your nervous system, and boost your immune system. Here’s a primer on controlled breathing.
For even more relaxation, try guided meditation. Headspace offers hundreds of options that will leave you with a Buddha-like smile. Several other recommended meditation apps offer free trials or cost nothing. UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center also offers a free podcast each week. Try it for just a few minutes and let a wave of calm wash over you.
“Laughter is a symbol of hope, and it becomes one of our greatest needs of life, right up there with toilet paper,” L.A. comedian Erica Rhodes told the Associated Press. “It’s a physical need people have. You can’t underestimate how it heals people and gives them hope.”
So even during a pandemic, it’s OK to crack a well-timed joke, especially if it brings you closer to others. Or try reading a funny book or watching a funny movie or show. For quick giggly hits, check out Comedy Central’s YouTube channel and the Laugh Lounge app, which streams live stand-up comedy.
Bonus: Laughter may reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, and calm your stress response. That’s no joke!
Setting aside time to care for your body with DIY spa-like treatments can make you feel deliciously decadent, beautifully self-pampered, and just a bit giddy — all part of your RDA of self-care. Try a homemade face mask with ingredients from your pantry, a blissful bath with aromatherapeutic salts, and a moisturizing hand salve to soothe those well-washed hands.
@valentinaa_jara: I love this DIY mask: honey and cinnamon — it really helps with my acne. 💕
@cindysaurus7: I like to read to help me relax and use a CBD bath bomb.
@tessyyg: My mahogany teak wood candle, a HOT bubble bath with an Olaplex hair mask and DIY honey face mask—all topped off with a homemade chai tea and a good book. 💗😍
@ciarasandefur: I love making lip balm. I use coconut oil, citrus essential oil, and beeswax. Heat it up and put in containers. So smooth and soft. My favorite ever.
@bkpinkngreen: Coffee grinds with honey as an exfoliating face mask. ☕🍯☕🍯☕🍯
More than ever, we need a satisfying snooze to help us manage our stressful days and keep our immune system in top shape. And more than ever, it can be hard to power down when your head hits the pillow.
Instead, prime your mind to relax as far in advance of bedtime as you can. Put your electronics on a curfew — 90 minutes ahead of “lights out” is best — and resist checking the news one last time or streaming a nail-biter show.
Other simple tips to help you zonk out: get your heart rate up each day, dim your lights early, take a hot shower before bed, try blackout curtains and a white-noise machine, keep your bedroom uncluttered, cool, and clean.
Wonderfully oblivious waddling penguins, snoozing pandas, and cuddly koalas — these are just a few of the animals you can watch via live-streaming webcams from zoos and aquariums around the world. Here’s a list to get you started.
Watch out: spying on super-cute critters is addictive! But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. A 2012 study in Japan showed “viewing cute things improves subsequent performance in tasks that require behavioral carefulness, possibly by narrowing the breadth of attentional focus.” So, yes, checking in on those adorable sea otters at the Monterey Bay Aquarium is part of a successful WFH (work from home) strategy!
Wow! In one day you can view masterpieces by van Gogh at the Musée D’Orsay in Paris, gawk at T. rex fossils the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., check out Egyptian antiquities at the Louvre in Paris, immerse yourself in an interactive tour of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in D.C., view a visual timeline of the world at the British Museum in London, and admire street art in New York. And that’s just a tiny sample of the cultural riches now available online, many of them accessible thanks to Google Arts & Culture. Check out this extensive list on CNN.
Don’t miss the mind-blowing experience of Zoom Views, which lets you zoom in to the brushstroke level of famous artworks such as “The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt and “The Birth of Venus” by Sandro Botticelli. Up close, the paintings seem to come alive, so that you can almost feel the artists breathing beside you.
You might be in your jammies by 8 these days, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go to a concert! Musical groups and artists ranging from John Legend to Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie) to Pink to Shawn Mendes to Elton John are offering free concerts, sometimes daily. If country music puts swing in your step, check out all these live concerts coming out of Nashville. NPR also keeps a running list of virtual concerts of all kinds.
The performing arts are also finding ways to shine in the virtual spotlight. Whether you’ve always wanted to see a performance by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater or swoon at an aria from the Metropolitan Opera or relax with a jam from SFJazz, there are so many cheap or free ways to take in top theater, dance, and classical music performances.
Feeling like you really need a night out? How about virtually going clubbing in Berlin? 👯
We know. Nothing can quite replace the full sensory experience of visiting another country, but by diving into rich online resources, streaming travel-filled shows, and reading transportive books, you can come pretty close.
Next, use Google Street View to take the quickest flights ever to world-famous landmarks, including Machu Picchu, Stonehenge, the Taj Mahal, the Palace of Versailles, and the Pyramids of Giza, to name a few.
Explore the natural wonders of our country’s national parks by taking ranger-guided virtual tours of their “hidden worlds.” You can kayak through icebergs in Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula National Park, venture down a lava tube in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, and see thousands of bats hanging out in Carlsbad Caverns National Park. You’ll feel extraordinarily brave in your living room!
Find feel-good footage for animals and nature worldwide with BBC’s Wonderstruck TV. You can sort by emotionally themed categories such as “Need a Laugh,” “Feeling Anxious,” “Cure Boredom,” and “Togetherness.”
Finally, let your ears be your guide as you travel the planet, from the Faroe Islands to Cape Town, by listening to international radio stations through Radio Garden. Listening to tunes across the globe is a good reminder of our shared humanity, no matter how distant we are.
Can’t visit the dentist? We’ve got a care package for your smile! Our Healthy Habits Set contains all the TLC (Toothy Loving Care) you need to build a rewarding floss routine during quarantine. 😀 💖