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10 Larkee Methods of Practicing Self Care

On a light wood surface, a hand towel, sliced lemon, aloe vera leaves, essential oils, cucumbers, and scrubbing salts are arranged.
Via Pixbay.com

Since this period of social-distancing began, I’ve been finding it difficult to engage with the things that once brought me the most fulfillment. As much as I’ve wanted to make this time productive by jumping headfirst into artistic pursuits and active personal or professional development, the uncertainty of the future, and this field, leaves me at a loss, and the desire to create and drive myself forward ultimately makes me feel sad, strange, and inadequate. I am both comforted and saddened to know that I am not at all alone in this experience.

For me, a large part of the process of navigating this new pace of life, and the anxiety and uncertainty that comes with it, has been trying to really commit to a more whole and balanced relationship with self-care. As our ability to care for others hinges on maintaining distance from them at the moment, more energy has to be refocused on ourselves for the time being (and be continued beyond!).

As artists whose work is defined by collaboration and gathering together, finding ways to be fulfilled alone is really hard. To help my own process, I reached out to members of the Lark team to ask where they’ve been turning to find joy and comfort in the midst of an otherwise stressful, scary time. Below is a list of ten favorite small, simple tasks that are bringing Larkees joy, and helping to make the day-to-day realities of this time more manageable.

 

1. Prioritizing daily routine: get dressed, brush your teeth, wash your face

Luckily, working remote has helped shape a schedule for me. I've made sure to make my bed each morning, actually put on new clothing, and make myself breakfast. Doing that has structured my mornings into a ritual that allows me to put the "bed" part of my bedroom workspace away (in a sense) once I'm awake. -Lauren Kiele DeLeon​​

I'm getting a lot of joy from scheduling things to look forward to in my week. I'm a pretty avid journal-er/planner user (and I love fine fine fine tipped pens), and normally I put all of my events into my calendar at the beginning of the week. At first, I was struggling because it was like I had nothing going on after work any more, but when I started writing in even the small things I was doing (a phone call with a friend, a livestream I wanted to tune into, my online Chinese class), I began to feel a little more normal, and that my post-work hours still had purpose. -Jennifer Haley


I found some face oil in the back of my bathroom cabinet that I forgot I owned, and let me tell you, I am using it. I’m throwing a lot of attention at my skin these days. The days that I get dressed and spend most of the day upright are significantly better than the days I don’t , and I’m grateful for the new-to-me world of computer-camera socializing.

2. Doing housework

I spent a couple days towards the beginning of this thoroughly cleaning my apartment and reorganizing my space into the most conducive format for working from home. Changing around my furniture really helped establish this as a different period of time than before. -Lauren

I’ve found cleaning to be incredibly meditative, and having a clean space makes me feel instantly better (this is coming from someone whose natural state is chaos. My clothing spends more time on the floor than anywhere else). Since self-quarantine began, I have thrown away a pile of junk mail dating back to last June, moved every piece of furniture in my apartment, and finally used a bottle of pinesol I’ve been ‘saving’.

3. Writing a to-do list and ticking things off of it

I try to tackle one item off my to-do list (a grant, a new scene of a play, a short essay) every day. -Adam A. Elsayigh​​

Once I can get past the hurdle of just doing it, writing a to-do list makes a huge difference. Sometimes the list is filled with simple life-tasks like shower, take out the trash, write an email to a friend, try to do a handstand (I can only dream). Writing what I need or want to get done makes the task load feel much, much more manageable, and consistently offers a sense of purpose and structure within otherwise structureless days.

4. Exercising

I've added a yoga practice to my daily routine and Yoga with Adriene on YouTube is extremely helpful for me! She has a huge range of practices based on very different needs, goals, and abilities, and she's a super positive instructor. I'm working on one of her 30-day yoga practice challenges and I would definitely recommend it for folks who are interested in a daily practice during social distancing.  -Cara Cincione​​

As someone who spends a lot of time lying motionless in bed watching YouTube videos of other people exercising but who hates to sweat too hard, learning that exercise does not have to be hell on earth and can just feel good was huge. I like to take time on a yoga mat everyday working my way through a list of exercises that I like at my own pace. I also have really loved making time to dance, which has become fun since I accepted that I will never be a very good dancer.

5. Reading

I read a play every day -Adam

Lately I’ve been trying to reopen some books that I took for granted in High School English. Returning to these books as an adult has been really cool and rewarding, and has reminded me that our relationship to art changes significantly over time. Also, reading before bed instead of staring at my phone has helped with sleepless nights.

6. Watching movies/tv/concerts

I watch a lot of mini-series and it's helping me in conceiving different ways that plays and other forms speak to each other structurally. The Assassination of Gianni Versace, Years and Years, When They See Us, Sherlock! -Adam

I recommend taking a night and watching tiny concerts from IGtv! All my favorite musicians are holding solo sessions in their living room. We're getting covers we'd only get in a live concert. It brings me so much joy and reminds me that play is available right in my own home if I just dust off those old instruments. -Rani O’Brien

I have enjoyed watching the free streaming by the Metropolitan Opera. -John C. Eisner


I am not proud to say that my roommate and I, who have watched an embarrassing amount of Love Island in our time living together, have shifted our attention to Jason Mesnick’s season of The Bachelor, which may be trash for the soul (to be read in my mother’s voice), but is entertaining.

7. Playing Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing! I cannot stress this enough. Animal Crossing. Specifically, I am playing Animal Crossing New Horizons, the version that just came out for Nintendo Switch, but there's a mobile version of the game as well. This game is the opposite of quarantine. You win points for going outside and talking to your neighbors, who are all, fittingly, adorable little animals! Plus, K.K. Slider is the artist of our generation. -Olivia George

8. Engaging with nature

Going up to my roof, walking around my neighborhood, and taking care of my plants and myself has been the saving grace of it all. -Lauren

I live right near Greenwood Cemetery, and have been comforted by long walks there a few days a week. Being outside is important to me, and I’m grateful to be able to take walks through this. On the days where I stay indoors, making sure that my blinds are open makes a difference.

9. Reaching out

I've found it so important to remind myself how many people surround me at all times even if I don't see them. Meditating on the number of people around me and how we're all in the same situation has made me feel less alone. -Lauren

Scheduling phone calls (and sticking with them) to check in with friends/family/collaborators has helped me remember that what I’m experiencing isn’t unique to me. I also just signed up for New York Theatre Workshop’s virtual neighbors program, which I’m really excited about.

10. Recognizing that this isn’t normal, and forgiving yourself for needing to slow down

I have gotten a bit of peace knowing that things are allowed to fall through a little bit during this time. This isn't normal, and we shouldn't try to push everything to be "Normal." Some things will have to be dropped, and that's okay. -Jennifer

Self-forgiveness is a hard and an ongoing process. I’ve been really struggling with significant changes in motivation and a resistance to engaging with the art that used to sustain me. My inability to work at the same pace that I could two months ago is frustrating and disheartening most days, but I’m working to give myself the time I need to adjust and to be kind and patient with myself through this, and I hope that you will, too.

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