I'm not the kind of woman that has a ten step skin care routine, but there are plenty of serums and face masks tucked away in my bathroom cabinets. Pre-coronavirus, I put on makeup, broke out the flat iron for my bangs, and used various face creams and moisturizers daily. As I ease into my fifth week at home in isolation with my family, I have put on makeup exactly once, and that was only because my daughter and I were trying to pass the time by doing makeovers. I have styled my hair with heat exactly no times, and days go by before I remember to put on moisturizer.
The words, "self care," get thrown at us a lot to mean all sorts of things. Take your stress away with a scented candle bubble bath for self care. Do a face mask while riding an exercise bike and doing your taxes for self care. After days and days (and days) at home, now, I have realized that self care for me really just means taking a shower. It is down to its bare essentials now. "Have I done the very small things necessary to actually care for myself today?" If I do something more than roll out of bed when the baby starts making noise in her room, then stay in my pajamas all day with un-brushed hair and teeth, I'm doing great.
For most of my life, I have been a disgusting slob who could not get it together to floss, but now I'm flossing every day. This started a few weeks before we went into lock down. My husband made a board on our fridge and challenged me to floss every day (a challenge for himself as well). We set up rules that whomever flossed the most that week would get two free hours that weekend that could not be used for child care or chores. If we both flossed, we each got an hour. Even before the pandemic, we were stretched thin and overworked by our careers and our small children, and two hours of free time every week sounded like a luxury. It worked, though, and now we both have a strong flossing habit. We've moved on to challenging each other to complete a thirty minute workout a day.
In times of crisis, I find that it's easier to identify the small things I can do daily to make myself feel like a normal, functioning human. Getting out of bed before my children wake up, brushing my teeth, and flossing signal to me that my day has started. I then tie my hair in a braid, put on pants that zip, and drink a Nalgene full of water before I have coffee. To signal the end of the day, I give my husband a huge hug and disappear into our bedroom for thirty minutes as I lay out my yoga mat, go through a series of bedtime stretches, then spend ten minutes meditating. That habit, which I could never get going during normal times, has been my steady wind down that tells my brain to let go of whatever happened today. After that, I usually take a bath or shower and listen to a podcast while I brush my teeth and put on pajamas, but I'm slowly starting to remember to put on a night serum or pluck my eyebrows. It doesn't happen every night, and really, does it need to? These are all just nice reminders to slow down and remember to do small things for yourself to stay in working order. None of us know how long this will go on, and barring any sickness, we want to emerge at least as healthy and functional as when we went into isolation.