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Be Gentle with Yourself and Those Around You During COVID-19

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“We know that it’s important to show compassion for others, but how often do we show that same level of kindness to ourselves?” asks Emily Ferguson, author of 10 Different Ways to Practice Self-Care.1

Step back

Ferguson says, “Step back and remember that you are worth the love and care that you give others. Many think that practicing self-care is inconvenient or even selfish.” 1 As I began preparing the workshop Self Care for Educators During the COVID-19 Pandemic, I questioned if self-care is selfish even though self-care pushes us to be healthier versions of ourselves.

Self-care is defined as:

“Our ability as human beings to function effectively in the world while meeting the multiple challenges of daily life with a sense of energy, vitality, and confidence. Self-care is initiated and maintained by us as individuals, it requires our active engagement.” 1

“Times of high stress can bring out both the best and the worst in people

— it’s wonderful when it brings out the best, but it’s completely natural and understandable when it brings out the worst.” 2 Give yourself permission to cry. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re short with someone or you binge watch Netflix while eating ice cream. Be aware of your emotions. Forgive yourself for your shortcomings and apologize to others as necessary.

Resist the tendency to compare

Psychologist Dr. Doreen Dodgen-Magee says in Self Care and Covid-19: Getting Ready for the Marathon, “There are as many ways of handling difficult situations as there are humans. It’s easy, right now, to see what others are doing (and how they are seemingly thriving) and to compare ourselves to them. This is a time to work diligently to tend to your relationship with yourself.”3

Don’t take things personally

Dr. Dodgen-Magee also says in A Self-Care Alphabet for Week 4 of Quarantine, “This is the time to work hard to not take things personally.”4 Identify what you need from others. Be sure to communicate your needs specifically. Remember to give others space to respond based on their capacity to help.

The pandemic won’t last forever. Maybe now isn’t the best time to flourish. We can be healthier versions of ourselves later. Meanwhile, we need to be gentle with ourselves and those around us


  1. 10 Different Ways to Practice Self-Care, Emily Ferguson, February 24, 2020,
  2. Self Care during COVID-19. International OCD Foundation,
  3. Self Care and COVID-19: Getting Ready for the Marathon, Doreen Dodgen-Magee, Psy.D. Posted Mar 19, 2020
  4. A Self-Care Alphabet for Week 4 of Quarantine, Doreen Dodgen-Magee, Psy.D., Posted Apr 10, 2020
  5. Image:  empathy-4181896_Compassion friendship {]
  • Are you relieved when certain students are absent?
  • Do you have students who “push your buttons”?
  • Do you find yourself butting heads with the same students day-after-day?

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