Experts talk about self-care during a 2020 pandemic

September is self-care awareness month
Self-care in 2020 is much more than a massage, mani and pedi or a getaway vacation.
Self-care in 2020 is much more than a massage, mani and pedi or a getaway vacation.
Published: Sep. 8, 2020 at 6:31 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - September is Self-Care Awareness Month.

It’s a time to remind us that taking care of ourselves is essential, especially during a pandemic.

But self care in 2020 looks different than it has in the past. “This is not the same kind of self-care that we’ve talked about in the years leading up to COVID-19,” says Chris McLaughlin of Acadia Hospital.

He says self-care is now much more than a trip to the spa, a manicure and pedicure, or a once a year vacation.

“We’re really thinking more about how we integrate a lot of little self-care spread out over the course of the weeks and through the weekends,” says McLaughlin.

He calls this ‘micro-dosing,’ “The self-care that I’m thinking about has got to be cheap, it’s got to be effective, and it’s got to be readily accessible.”

During the course of your work or school day, McLaughlin says it’s things as simple as staying hydrated and taking frequent breaks. “You’re practicing your deep breathing, you’re really working on your posture,” he says.

“Self-care doesn’t mean that you’re selfish.”

Chris McLaughlin

For your “off time,” it’s taking time to play with your pet, watch your favorite TV show, or picking up that new book you’ve wanted to read. McLaughlin says “It’s treating yourself to not having that alarm clock go off one morning a week.”

He says we should be purposefully planning these self-care moments throughout our days. “If you’re relying on your monthly manicure appointment or your monthly massage, you are at risk of burnout. I don’t care what profession you’re in," says McLaughlin.

He says self-care has gotten a bad rap because it’s tied to things that can feel so out of touch for folks like expensive vacations, “I want people to re-frame self care in just thinking about, ‘what does it look like to be kind to myself?’”

McLaughlin also says it’s important to model these behaviors for your kids. He says taking a few minutes to do self care activities as a family every night, like deep breathing exercises or a walk around the block, is important.

He says, “We’ve got to educate kids that self-care doesn’t mean that you’re selfish. It means that you’re putting yourself and your needs a priority for the time being.”

Northern Light Acadia Hospital put out a video two weeks ago addressing mental health of kids heading back to school. It includes tips for how parents can help them ease back into the school year and manage anxiety. These self-care tips are part of managing that stress.

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