Practicing Self-care When Everything Is Uncertain

How these female leaders control what they can while hunkering down at home.

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Pexels

In today’s hustle culture, you’ve likely heard (and hopefully experienced!) the importance of practicing self-care. Whether your method of choice involves meditating, going for a run, journaling, or anything in between — it’s essential to have rhythms in place to maintain a healthy balance.

As we’ve all experienced in the recent weeks, there’s now a new challenge to overcome — not just COVID-19, but uncertainty of the future. For the majority of the world, it’s not clear what our new normal will look like. When even the experts are stumped, that can be reason enough to throw in the self-care towel and dwell on the negative.

Instead of allowing fear to take over during this time of uncertainty, I tapped into the Dreamers // Doers network and asked these powerhouse women about the methods of self-care they’ve used to get through tough times. 

Their eclectic responses taught me that, while we may need to get a bit creative for the foreseeable future, there are endless ways we can continue taking care of ourselves—from the safety of our homes, of course.

Have you used any of these methods? What would you add to this list? 

Connect virtually over food

“I have been cooking a storm! I’m taking the time to really think about each meal and ensure that we are all eating mindfully. Plus, I’m using technology to have shared mealtimes with family, friends, and colleagues. Food is a wonderful way to connect—to your kids, your roommate, yourself. Take this time to get back in the kitchen and work together to make a meal. So much happens in the kitchen.”

—Michal Levison, Founder, Seasoned Moments

Play time management video games

“The way I turn off and let my brain zone out from my to-do list as an entrepreneur is by playing time management video games where you are a female entrepreneur and must complete virtual to do lists—think you run a salon and need to get everyone through the pedicure process, or you’re a stewardess and you have to make sure everyone gets neck pillows! It might sound crazy but I think of things like this, or putting together a puzzle, like a chew toy for my very active mind.”

—Alex Cooley, Founder, AC Electric

Join a live group meditation

“My friend Ysiad Ferreiras has been hosting hour-long Zoom calls two times a day. I’m part of the evening crew which normally follows a format of general catch up/check in, followed by a few meditation exercises and closes with dedicated time for gratitude journaling. He shows up for every call even if just one person shows up or if it is more! I have never been one to meditate or journal regularly, but I have found the group to serve as a form of much needed accountability and routine during this uncertain time. I use this group call as a way to wind down from the day. 

—Tiffany Yu, Founder & CEO, Diversability

Focus on your physical, emotional, and spiritual state

“I start my day by running for about three miles daily on the treadmill while listening to powerful motivational messages. This is followed by a time of meditation and prayers. This simple set of activities helps me start my day physically, emotionally, and spiritually charged, ready to take on the new day.”

—Julia Olayanju, CIO, GrubEasy Interactive

Contribute to the well-being of others

“I find contributing to other’s well-being has really helped me to feel grounded during this period of time. I have recently hosted virtual sessions with friends that are living abroad, women in a network that I belong to here in Singapore, and other entrepreneurs in the region. Hosting these virtual sessions have helped me realize that I’m not alone. Most important, I feel a sense of contentment and sufficiency in this life. I’m not referring to the amount, but knowing that there is enough, what we have right now is enough, and we are enough.” 

—Pamela Hidajat, Founder & CEO, Super Nanny Indonesia

Get out into nature

“We have an au pair who is now stuck at home with three kids all day and cannot leave the house. I give her a break and my mind a break each day by taking the kids on a hike. I cannot say enough about the importance of being in nature, having the sun on your face, and having fun with your kids, not worrying about the future.”

—Kate Anderson, Co-Founder & Operations, iFundWomen

Move your body/dance

“In particularly tough moments or days (times that I’ve wondered if I would ever feel normal again!) dancing and body movement has managed to bring me back to a parasympathetic state, which in turn creates space for some logical, optimistic thinking about the present moment and the future. It’s only from that place that I can begin to see the value in whatever uncertain circumstances are at hand and set off on a momentum of joy and expansion, rather than fear and contraction.”

—Teresa Bigelow, Founder, Spiral5

Go for a walk in an unfamiliar place

“When things look or feel uncertain, I go for long walks (60 minutes or more) in places I’m not completely familiar with. Wandering not only gets out nervous energy but it also helps unlock the creative centers of my brain, making it easier to solve problems, let go of the unknown, and face uncertainty with courage and strength.”

—Marissa Badgley, Founder, Reloveution

Prioritize virtual connections

“Seeing people’s FACES is huge. There’s something in eye contact and a smile, especially if you live alone. It’s a time when we all feel so helpless. Think of ways you can give back. Think of how you can harness your knowledge to help others!”

—Julie Zukof, Founder & Chief Brand Officer, Principals

Get creative with virtual connections

“Maintaining connecting with those you connect with on a daily basis in innovative ways, whether it is sending a personal note, having coffee over FaceTime, or having a company gaming event for your coworkers. Chances are how you are feeling is similar to someone in your group. Outreach is the best way to foster any connection whether it is for business or personal reasons.”

—Taryn McCarty, Business Development, Nerd Street Gamers

Intentionally nurture relationships

“During these times of uncertainty I’ve been investing more time to FaceTime and text with friends and family. With all the unknown around me, spending time to nurture my relationships feels like one of the few things I can control. Hearing from my loved ones helps me feel grounded and supported and is a way for me to share my energy with them. An unexpected call might be just the boost needed for your friend, so give them a ring!”

—Miraya Berke, Founder, Rom Com Fest

Get uncomfortable and sit with your emotions

“Sitting with my emotions, I close my eyes, focus on my breath, and ask myself, ‘What am I resisting most in my life right now?’ After the first wave of emotions settles, I ask the question again and again—and then I sit with my fears. The process is intense and uncomfortable, but as the minutes pass, my fears dissipate. Facing my emotions straight on clears my mind for decision-making and builds my grit like nothing else.” 

—Kari Clark, Founder & CEO, Uplift Remote

Utilize acupressure and controlled breathing

“I use two techniques that are freely available to anyone, anywhere, which balance the body’s nervous system while tapping into its innate healing capabilities: acupressure and controlled breathing. When I notice the physical manifestations of stress in my body, acupressure activates and helps to reduce those feelings by releasing endorphins and lowering cortisol levels. When I can’t stop my brain from returning to unpleasant thoughts, controlling my breath redirects my focus and taps into the parasympathetic nervous system which is where relaxation and healing occur. Try inhaling for a count of six and exhaling for a count of eight; repeat until you feel better!” 

—Stefanie DiLibero, Founder, Gotham Wellness

Focus on the present

“I’ve been working on staying present, stilling my mind, breathing, and focusing on facts not fear and asking the question—why is this happening FOR me (rather than to me)? When we focus on the present we’re able to think more about what we are able to control, what is real, and what we can do now. Rather than worry about the ‘what ifs’ and getting caught up in the upset of something that may never happen.”

—Anna Szpunar, Owner, The Entrepreneurial Soul LLC

Meditate and write gratitude lists

“The root cause of my suffering lies in my thoughts as my perception creates my reality. I meditate to train my mind and change my thoughts to a more positive outlook on life. Then I write gratitude lists to remind myself of how lucky I am and in doing so also create a more positive outlook on life. These methods are extremely helpful in moving me from a mental space of anxiety and panic to one of calm, acceptance, and of viewing life through a lens of positivity and possibility.”

—Anna-Kristina Kolber, Film Producer, Chasing the Present

Use noise-cancelling earplugs and tap into your creativity

“I spend time each day with noise-cancelling earplugs to find inner balance and reconnect with my purpose. Another method of self-care that has been extremely beneficial is tapping into my creativity. As a nutritionist, being able to create new meals, recipes, and sharing them with others gives me a great sense of alignment and fulfillment.”

—Summer White-Suski, Founder & CEO, Soma Nutrition

Go for a run

“Running has always been a go to when life gets stressful or I want to take control. During social distancing and with no access to childcare, running alone or with my daughter in the stroller has been a game changer. The impact happens quickly and I can feel the change in my mood and the incredible endorphin rush right away. It’s important to grasp tightly onto things we can control and self care is one of the great ways! My head is clearer, I’m more patient with myself and others.”

—Caitlin Iseler, Co-Founder, happyly

Maintain a normal routine

“Keeping some semblance of a routine from home is essential. Daily exercise, working from a home office, and cooking dinner each day are ways to keep the body and mind active and engaged. The more we can retain a sense of our lives before COVID-19, the more we continue to feel like ourselves.”

—Keira Kotler, Founder & CEO, Everviolet

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