Self-care is more important than ever
The San Francisco Botanical Garden. Photo: Alejandro Cartagena via Unsplash
As The coronavirus pandemic is going on longer than most of us expected. You may feel the effects of your mental health deteriorating. If you notice the emotional weight of the pandemic, you are not alone. Back in March, when the pandemic first hit the United States, a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that nearly half of Americans were feeling the effects of Covid-19 on their mental health. And that was in March.
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The idea of “self-care ”may conjure up cheesy images of wine and impulse shopping, but it is crucial to really take care of our sanity to survive in our new reality. So don’t disassemble the bubble baths and face masks (no, not that type). More than ever, we need to treat ourselves to a little fun, rest and relaxation. So why not schedule a day for a little emotional improvement?
There are many healthy ways to re-center yourself with a little TLC, from mental to physical activities that you can do both at home and (safely) out in the world. Wherever your level of comfort is, whatever your budget and whether you have an hour or a day, we have a list to inspire you.
1. Play tourists in your own city
There are far fewer tourists right now than the average San Francisco summer. It’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy some of the city’s most iconic outdoor spots that are usually inundated with people in relative peace. Bring lunch and your camera to Alamo Square, spend an afternoon in the Botanical Gardens or Japanese Tea Garden, or finally snap that perfect kitschy photo at the Golden Gate Bridge. The Botanical Garden was recently “safely reopened” and the Japanese Tea Garden is open with “modifications”. If you don’t want to venture outside, many museums offer online experiences, like SFMOMA and de Young. Put on your wildest outfit and pretend to be someone else for the day and take in the city with brand new eyes.
2. If aromatherapy is your thing
There are a number of locally owned shops that will tingle your senses as soon as you step in the door. The sensory signal from essential oils like lavender tells the brain to slow down and has been shown to help with sleep, depression, and even solving math problems. Try a local shop like Heliotrope in Valencia in the Mission or check out Half Moon Bay Lavender or even Pastorino Farms if you feel like it. At Half Moon Bay Lavender, you can buy your own lavender plants, bundles of dried lavender, and more.
It has something to do with having your own lavender plant that makes you feel like a simple, airy goddess of self-care (unless you kill her like me, which has the opposite effect).
3. Watch a movie in the drive-in theater
This summer, the drive-in theater has seen a tremendous revival. If one of your favorite pre-pandemic self-care activities was going to the movies, watching movies on your couch while watching a movie on the drive-in might be the perfect change of pace. There are a number of drive-ins not far out of town, such as the West Wind Chains in Concord, San Jose, and Sacramento. Bring pillows, blankets, and snacks, and maybe even drop the trunk. If you have some outdoor space at home, you can also build your own drive-in: throw up a sheet of paper, take out the projector, and enjoy your own private demonstration. Either way, it will be a better movie experience than watching something with your laptop on your chest.
4. Catch the sunset or sunrise at your favorite view
If you’ve been cooped up for too long, the best way to feel part of the city again is to take a closer look at the city. If you can get up early enough to catch the sunrise, you can see the city come alive in relative solitude. Corona Heights Park is one of my favorite places to get panoramic views of the city (if the fog decides to collaborate that day). Or visit more popular places like Twin Peaks or Lands End. Bring a notebook, fleece, blanket and start your morning peacefully. Alternatively, you can leave at the end of the day. There’s nothing like watching the sun go down over the Pacific to calm you down and enjoy the glistening wonder of the Bay Area.
5. Go to your special place in the city
One of the best things to do when you feel bad is basing yourself on nostalgia and comfort. If you’ve been in Survival mode for the past few months, spend the day thinking a little and reconnecting with yourself. Bring yourself to your place in the city – whether it’s a place you fondly remember growing up or a defining place when you moved here. If it still exists and is safe to visit now, go. If you can’t walk, find a quiet place with a notebook to write about. Connecting with your pre-pandemic world can be helpful in helping you overcome uncertainty.