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Sanity in the Time of Coronavirus: Social Isolation Self-Care Tips

 Normalcy is a long way off for most of us currently sheltering in place, socially distancing, and self-quarantining due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, but sanity doesn’t have to be. I’ve spent a lot of the past couple of weeks commiserating and trading social isolation self-care tips with readers—here are some things I think everyone should know.

Why bother?
The whole world seems to have turned upside down in the course of a month or so. It’s dizzying, and for many of us, the instinctive response is to hunker down, do nothing, and take these next few weeks or months as a sort of lost episode in life, marked with much comfort snacking, many naps, and as little energy expenditure as possible.

It’s okay to feel like doing nothing sometimes. It’s okay to let yourself fall apart a bit. It’s natural, it happens, and it may be your body’s and mind’s way of recovering some necessary energy and peace. But while no one is under any obligation to throw themselves 100% into some total personal development transformation during our Time of Quarantine, time is still passing. Life is still moving on. Maintaining a self-care routine of some kind will help you continue to feel human and will help life continue to feel real and meaningful. Now, more than ever, we need to take care of ourselves. So let’s do it!

Skincare, because that’s probably what you’re here for
This is a skincare site, and I’m a skincare blogger, so let’s talk about skincare strategies during social isolation first. 

If nothing else, this strange and lonely limbo we’re in right now is a great time to get real extra with your skincare. If you don’t have to go anywhere early in the morning, you now have time to shop your stash for a longer and more involved AM skincare routine than usual. During normal life, I have to get up early and leave early to take my son to school. That meant all I did in the mornings was cleanse, moisturize, and put on sunscreen. Now I cleanse, apply toner, add eye and face serums, and then moisturize and add sunscreen (if I’m planning to set foot outdoors). My skin is already looking even happier than before, because my skin loves layers. 

Speaking of which, now is a perfect time to try out the seven skin method that was trending a while back. The seven skin method basically involves seven layers of whatever hydrating toner you want to use. Of course you don’t have to go all the way up to seven (or, if your skin is extra thirsty, you could keep going until you hit eight or nine or your hands get tired of patting). It’s time-consuming. Now we’ve got much more time on our hands. 

Depending on your habits right now, social isolation could also provide an opportunity to try out stronger peels than you’re used to, if you’ve been curious about those. AHA chemical exfoliation makes skin more sensitive to sun damage. This becomes a lot less concerning if you’re stuck inside all the time anyway. Continue to use sunscreen any time you expect to be exposed to the sun and watch out for signs of overexfoliation, but if you’ve been wanting to take a risk, now’s the time. 

Speaking of peels, this is a great time to try a foot peel! Products like My Scheming's Foot Peel involve putting on plastic booties, pouring a very strong chemical exfoliant into the booties, and wearing them for an hour or so. A few days to a week later, all the dead skin sheds in spectacular fashion from your feet, leaving them ultra-soft and ultra-fresh. This can be problematic if you’re going out in public in sandal weather. But if you’re not going anywhere for the next few weeks, no one will witness the violent molting. That’s a win.

Finally, take care of your hands. We’re all washing our hands all the time lately, and probably using alcohol-heavy hand sanitizers and sanitizing wipes as well. That can leave hands wrecked, especially if you, like me, hate the heavy feeling of most hand creams. Some of my Instagram friends suggested I use up my less-loved hydrating toners on my hands, and it’s been a game-changer! I use those after each wash, with an occasional layer of a random cream from my stash on top. My hands no longer look or feel like they’re shriveling into dust.

Social connection and making the most of the Internet

Enjoying Gifts from Friends

This morning, I saw a good friend of mine while we were both at the supermarket. We waved enthusiastically at each other from across a 10-foot distance before going on our way. It was simultaneously awesome and sad. I actually didn’t realize how much I do need and enjoy social connection, and in-person social connection, until COVID-19 took most of that off the table.

Lots of you are probably much more social than me. That makes the Isolation part of Social Isolation™ especially difficult. Staying connected online can help. At present, group chats with friends are keeping me sane. Some of us in one particular chat have declared a certain time of night Hemp O’Clock, because that’s when all of us start reaching for the CBD and other hemp-derived anxiety relievers. Others have become galleries of great cat pictures and medieval art memes. Anything that sparks a conversation or laughter is something to cling to.

Speaking of online resources, try to curate what you see to minimize your anxiety. In uncertain times, many of us end up consuming way too much information about our cause for concern. Is it really helpful to be constantly checking for the latest local and global infection and death numbers or getting worked up over other people’s violations of current health recommendations? Or is it causing you to spiral into obsession? 

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve really come around to the “you can’t control what others do, but you can control your own responses to it” school of thought, and I think it’s particularly important now. Some knowledge is important. We want to know what’s going on, especially where it impacts our lives and the lives of our loved ones. Staying aware is good. But seeking out more and more information that doesn’t help us isn’t always good, especially if it prevents us from being able to stay sane and comfortable. 

So if you find yourself endlessly consuming pandemic-related material and obsessing to the point of anxiety, depression, or despair, try to step back and seek out more cheerful content. Like I said, time is still passing. The world is still turning. And there are plenty of lovely and cheering things to look at on the Internet. My Instagram feed at this point is majority animal-related: celebrity guinea pigs @fuzzberta and @burrito_nibbler, quokka superstars @cruzy_suzy and @quokkahub, and a near-infinite variety of cat accounts cheer me up when I open social media.

Continuing to live your best life
Beyond taking advantage of increased free time for skincare, finding ways to maintain social connections, and using the Internet as a tool for improving your mood rather than a means of intensifying your anxieties, you can find an infinite number of other ways to live your best life within the limitations currently imposed on us.

I’ve personally been spending more time on exercise and paying attention to my eating habits. Yes, yesterday I ate two Godiva molten lava cakes for lunch, and that was nice, but I also felt like crap afterwards and slipped into a two-hour carb coma, and that is why I don’t do that very often. You may have other projects you can work on or other habits you can keep up—whatever suits your needs. 

The important thing to remember is that this will end eventually. Whether it’s in one month or in a few months from now, this chapter in our history and our lives will eventually come to some resolution. When that happens, we’ll emerge from our homes into a changed but still viable world. When that time comes, what we’ve been doing with ourselves during our social isolation can make a big difference. So take good care of yourself in whatever way you need to, and we’ll see you on the other side! 

Oh, and by the way—about that social connection? I think we’re all itching for some conversation these days, so I’ll be hosting an IG Live on this topic on my account. It will take place on 4/10 at 6pm PST. Come join me and talk about all things social isolation and self-care!