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self-empathy
September 14, 2020

How to Balance Self-Empathy and Responsibility During the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to adapt rapidly to unforeseen circumstances. It’s been approximately six months since many schools and public attractions closed, and governors and mayors issued new rules such as stay-at-home orders and mask mandates. 

Since most of us never envisioned experiencing so many sweeping changes all at once, many people are struggling with their well-being during COVID-19. By this point in the pandemic, you might be craving a return to normalcy. However, until scientists discover a viable vaccine, cooperating as a society and respecting others’ well-being are the only ways we can slow the spread of illness in our communities.

If you’re feeling weary of isolating at home, you might also be starting to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. Self-empathy can be your secret weapon for making it through difficult times with your mental health intact. 

Make Time for Yourself

When you’re feeling anxious or your mood is at a low point, you might start putting your self-care routine on the back burner. For instance, chronic stress can disrupt your sleep schedule, leaving you feeling lethargic and unmotivated to do your daily workouts. Even if you’re limiting your trips outside the house, you can still find ways to get moving and carve out personal time.

Self-empathy can involve any healthy activity that makes you feel better about yourself, but here are some ideas to get you started at home.

  • Do yoga or meditate for at least 20 minutes a day.
  • Start a garden in your yard or on your porch. Tending to flowers or vegetables and watching them grow can be extremely rewarding.
  • Take online classes in a skill or subject that’s always interested you. 
  • Start a hobby that hones your focus and concentration, such as learning a new language or instrument.

Accept Imperfection

We often hold ourselves to unrealistic standards. You’ve probably heard that you should strive to rise above any challenge, or clichés like “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” When you’re struggling to stay afloat, this mindset can make you feel like you’re not enough. 

While it might sound counterintuitive, allowing yourself to be imperfect is one hallmark of being a responsible adult. Self-empathy doesn’t mean skipping out on obligations, but accepting what you can’t control. If you make a mistake, acknowledge that it’s OK. Nobody has all the answers even in the best of times, and this pandemic has created a once-in-a-lifetime cascade of unknowns. 

Do Frequent Reality Checks

Checking in with your feelings is an integral part of being mindful and practicing self-empathy. Next time you notice that you’re anxious or upset, backtrack to see if you can pinpoint the cause of your feelings. If you’re already tense, it could only take a minor event to spark an angry outburst. Analyze why you feel this way and what caused this series of events.

You can also take note of your physical response – are you clenching your jaw or holding tension in your neck and shoulders? Take some deep breaths and consciously try to relax. Ground yourself by noticing any sensations you might be feeling.

Practice Positive Self-Talk 

Would you ever tell a good friend or close family member that they’ll never achieve their goals, or that they always do everything wrong? Odds are that you wouldn’t dream of saying these things to someone else’s face. So why do you repeat them to yourself? 

Self-empathy requires you to be kind to yourself. If you realize your inner monologue usually takes a negative tone, make a list of all the positive qualities you see in yourself. Then, post it somewhere that will force you to look at it several times a day, like your bathroom mirror or above your desk.

Where to Relearn Self-Empathy

It’s only natural to struggle with self-empathy and complex emotions during this pandemic. However, if your mental health is suffering and you’ve become over-reliant on drugs or alcohol, it’s time to seek qualified treatment. If you don’t know where to turn, call Beach House, where our caring admissions counselors are here to talk with you 24/7. Our idyllic beachfront retreat provides an ideal environment in which to begin your recovery journey. 

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