A black man hugging himself to indicate self care

Practicing self-care in a relationship during COVID-19

Self-care is misconstrued as a time-consuming fad, that’s expensive, and a public display of affluence, but it’s not – especially in these times of COVID-19.

Spa treatments, lavish holidays, indulgent expensive gifts for yourself tend to be often shared online via social media with the popular hashtag #selfcare. Self-care is misconstrued as a time-consuming fad that’s expensive and a public display of affluence, but it’s not – especially in these times of COVID-19, it’s important to take care of you, even if you’re social distancing.

The sister authors of Self Care for the Real World, Nadia Narain and Katia Narain Phillips, sum up self-care as, ‘a mindset: looking after yourself the way you would look after someone you love.’

We live in a world with endless demands on us; work, family, friends, and society in general. All those forces are tugging at you to be and offer your best all the time at all costs to you. We meet these demands mostly on auto-pilot, and we never fully grasp the strain it has on our lives till we crash.

Anything from an actual health crisis, or an ailment, or a mental breakdown or living in constant stress mode can make you likely to snap at any time. In relationships, the pressure is amplified. You are two people in love trying to make this work with two huge elephantine lifestyles of stress. This can definitely add strain to a relationship, or even break it.

To manage the complexity of adulting and ensure you genuinely show yourself real love and appreciation, here are a few ways you can practice self-care and still work on building a successful relationship with your beau.

  1. Exercise

    You can never underestimate the power of activating endorphins to naturally reboot your body. Whether it’s an evening run or power walk, yoga, or just following a 5-minute dance workout on YouTube in the comfort of your home, get your body moving. That feel-good sensation running through your body will revitalise you and make you a greater person to be around. If you can do this with your significant other, that adds more flavour to the relationship and ensures that you both stay healthy and happy.

  2. Choose Positivity

    It may sound cliché, but everything starts in the mind. If you label mornings as ‘evil’ or traffic as ‘Lucifer’, for example, you will be stressed all the time. You need to find a way to manage the things you struggle with better. You can wake up to your favourite song each morning, or just sleep an hour or two earlier at night to ensure that you are not too groggy in the morning. You could even ask your loved one to wake you up each morning with a kiss on the forehead. There is always something small you can do to shift your attitude on what you struggle with.

  3. Give each other space

    You don’t have to be with your partner all the time. At times the monotony of seeing the one you love all the time waters down the excitement of being around them and we take them for granted. From time to time, give each other space – unless, of course, you’re in isolation together! Go to a separate room of the house, or make good on that exercise plan and take a walk within the confines of our neighbourhood. Hang out with your boys or girls, even if it is virtually. When you do come back to your beau, you have a new experience to share and laugh about to add some healthy flavour to your relationship and your sanity.

  4. Mind your words

    We all have bad days, but how you choose to speak to others ricochets back to how people will speak to you. Learn to hold back hurtful words. Take more time to think before you speak and weigh the situation, especially in an argument. At times it is better to first cool off and then handle a disagreement. That gives you time to reflect and then choose your words better. It also helps you build compassion and a stronger understanding.

  5. Use your words

    Just as you choose not to speak in haste, learn to also speak up when you are hurting or uncomfortable – whether it is mentally, emotionally or sexually. By openly sharing your concerns or discomforts, you can adjust to each other’s needs, and in turn, strengthen the relationship.

Self- care is simply about choosing to live life better through daily practices that make us better people, and better lovers. Take care of yourself so that you can take care of others and weather out this difficult time.

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