Our neighbours moved out of their home today. Laura and I have been more than neighbours, we have been friends for decades sharing everything from recipes to wine while whining about kids issues.  I am going to miss her immensely. But, I’ve been missing her for weeks now in our new “Covid normal.” I miss the clinking of our glasses holding her favourite New Zealand white with the eye roll that shouted “I told you so!” I miss her hugs the most. Some days you just need that personal connection. And, I wanted so much to hug her good-bye. 

How are you doing in the world without hugs? Is the act of self-isolation taking its mental toll? 

There is so much to occupy our time online from Netflix and Amazon originals to free concerts – wasn’t Lady Gaga amazing! I felt so proud to be Canadian with the #StrongerTogether show and sing along with Michael Buble. And, @CherylHickeyETC has done an amazing job with the @ETCanada crew and @CCMAofficial showcasing Canadian country music talent. Thank you ET for bringing @deanbrody into my living room! 

The music feels like a cool breeze on a warm, sunny afternoon. But, the sounds are fleeting and when all is said and done and the concert is over you are back to isolation. Some of us are alone and some of us are cramped in living quarters with great numbers but we all feel the isolation. Isolated from loved ones, friends, our baristas (I miss you so much Connor at Fortino’s Starbucks #Burloak) ... 

One of my clients from New Zealand skyped in the other day and although she is living in a home with seven people, she says she has never felt so alone. And, she like all of us is concerned for our frontliners and family locked in adult residences and work zones away from loved ones.  Our new normal is anything but normal. 

So, what can we do when we need a hug? Well, remember when you fly on an airplane, the flight attendant instructs you to “put your oxygen mask on first,” before helping others. You’ve got to hug yourself first! I recommend getting out of bed in the morning and giving yourself a great big bear hug! Active self care is the best way to hug yourself. Here are a few tips to help you hug yourself: 

1. Control your News Feed 

I follow the Good News Network media company @goodnewsnetwork. I need a fix of good news. And, their coverage brings me joy. The world isn’t all doom and gloom right now. It’s important that you keep updated about local health announcements and government changes but set a limit and check online once a day for pandemic-only news. And, if Aunt Joyce is posting only doom and gloom, unfollow her on Facebook. Unfollowing an individual doesn’t cut them out of your life, it only cuts their “sally downer” postings and the good news is they won’t even know!  

2. Shake It Off

Do you hate to exercise? But, do you love to dance? Put on Taylor Swift and shake, shake, shake  your body to that “sick beat!” Home with the kids? Get them to shake along with you and bring the sillies out! Moving makes you feel good. Looking out my front window over the last few weeks I have never seen so many people. I didn’t even know I had so many neighbours on my block. But, they get it – you have to move to shake off the isolation blues and help your body. I caution you to NOT walk too many times. My dear Hubby started walking our delightful daschund three times a day when she was used to one walk a day. Within the first week she developed a bad limp and the prognosis? Too many walks.  So, everything in moderation. 

3. Meaningful R & R

I hear you. You are sitting on the couch more than ever – but binging Game of Thrones for the third time is not real relaxation. Too much of a good tv show can leave you even more stressed and drained than we likely already are. The most obvious way to recharge is to regulate your sleep cycle – try going to bed and waking up at the same time to regulate your internal clock to promote meaningful rest and relaxation.  You already know what is going to happen to Jamie Lannister – head to bed!! And, as I tell all my clients, BAN YOUR CELLPHONE from your bedside. Yes, your cell phone keeps your mind psychologically engaged and the blue light from the screen suppresses melatonin needed to control your sleep-wake cycle! Meditate when you wake up or go to bed. Only three to five minutes of concentrated breathing, relaxing meditation can make you feel like you’ve been hugged! 

Do you have any self-care tips that feel like a hug? Let us know in the comments below. Stay safe and be kind to yourself – Hugs!