Self-Care and Soul-Care During COVID-19

Self-Care and Soul-Care During COVID-19

In these extraordinary and challenging times, the arts offer much-needed solace, connection, upliftment and inspiration.

Fortunately, many artists and arts organizations are making all sorts of offerings available for free online right now. So, just because you can’t go out doesn’t mean you cannot stay inspired and connected to the gifts that only art can give.

But I also want to address some practical things you can do to keep your spirits up and navigate this unprecedented time well.

In this post, I have collected a bunch of resources to help you stay well, sane and inspired. Read on!

A Simple Four-Step Plan for Balance and Well-Being

I called one of my neighbors, who lives alone and is retired, this past weekend to check on how she is doing during the Shelter In Place order.

She told me she has made a three-step daily plan for herself that is so simple and wise I had to share it with you. Thank you, Julie!

As we talked, I added a fourth step. So, here are the four things I recommend you do each day during this time.

1. Meditate.

This is a great opportunity to cultivate your spiritual practices. We need practices like meditation, prayer, chanting and gratitude to counterbalance the fear, grief and stress and the negative effects of the news and social media.

These vital practices restore peace and balance and help us function at our best in trying times. They also help your immune system stay strong, since stress is the number one contributing factor in disease.

2. Get outside and get some exercise.

To feel well in body, mind, heart and soul, you need fresh air and sunlight. Even it’s raining, there is a lot of sunlight in the sky. The vitamin D we get from the sun is vital to our health, our good mood, and to disease-prevention.

You also need to move your body. So, even if the weather is foul, bundle up and get outside every day and get your body moving. Get some good exercise.

3. Do a project.

If you aren’t working right now from home, give yourself some project to work on every day, some focal point to your day, something that will feel good to do or have done.

Maybe it’s time to finally declutter your home. My neighbor cleaned out her fridge one day and is moving on to the kitchen cabinets.

I recommend creative projects or any fun, playful activities too. Get out the guitar and sing. Make a painting or a collage. Plant your garden. Finally mend the clothes you’ve had piled up for years. Make a beaded necklace. Write that novel or memoir.

Give yourself some project to do or make progress on each day.

4. Call a friend.

Especially if you live alone but even if you don’t, call a friend. Reach out by phone and talk to another human being every single day.

We all need this especially much right now—even if we have family at home with us. Just because you cannot spend time in person with others does not mean you have to be isolated.

Humans need connection to be healthy and well. Get over your awkwardness and reach out. You and your friends will both be grateful that you did.

Sources of Inspiration and Virtual “Artist Dates”

You can’t go to an actual museum or theater, but you can still engage in live art.

This list offers livestream concerts in a crazy range of musical genres and artists that are happening for free right now.

You can tour great museums and galleries online. It’s not the same as seeing the real art, but it’s something that can nourish you during this time.

Listen to live online readings by writers with interviews afterward—an amazing lineup!

As one  of the volunteers helping to produce the Sierra Poetry Festival, I want to let you know we are scrambling to figure out how we can bring as much of the Festival as possible, including some of the pop-up events throughout April, to you through virtual events. Check this site for updates:

Self-Care for the Blues

With so much isolation, and in some places, winter weather still happening, you may find it hard to stay out of gloom, malaise or depression. Here are some things that can really make a difference.

I wrote this article earlier this winter. In it, I offer 7 excellent strategies for dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder aka winter blues. But no matter the outer weather, most of these seven things are excellent tools to use at any time when you are feeling down.

I hope you’ve found something here to help you navigate this time. I’m sending you love and prayers for your well-being.

Celebrating the Spring Equinox

Celebrating the Spring Equinox

Today is the Spring Equinox or Vernal Equinox, the turning point to the season of Springtime in the Northern Hemisphere.

The Spring equinox turns us to new beginnings, new shoots coming up out of the earth, new budding things. Life begins anew.

It is a time of rebirth, balance, pause and planting seeds.

Here where I live in the Northern Sierra Nevada in California it has been cold, overcast, days of rain mixed with snow and hail. We’ve had more winter in the past month than the rest of the season. After a gorgeous “false spring” in early February, the new buds are held back, plants drooping from cold and snows.

But the camellias are blooming, the grape hyacinth crops up everywhere in the garden, undaunted. Forsythia begins to bud. Tulips have sent out their shoots of green.

Today we pause in honor of spring, the new season.

Today the day and night are of equal length all over the earth, a balance point. From now until the autumnal equinox, the days begin to grow longer and warmer.

Questions to Help You Plant Seeds for the Coming Season

Here are some questions to help you pause and celebrate this special time that in the astrological calendar is considered the first day of a new year. I invite you journal on these questions:

What needs re-balancing in you now?

For me, it is time to welcome more play and delight. To balance work and play better. More in attitude than in what I’m actually doing. Less push, pressure, stress, more easeful creative play and fun. Because creating things is my favorite form of play—whether in writing, dance, music or collage.

Yes, I know I’m supposed to be the “Empress of Play,” but I need reminding too from time to time. Lately, I’ve been very focused on goals and doing. It’s time to relax and play, enjoy, more.


by Steve Richey

What seeds are you planting now to come to fruition through the spring and summer into the autumn harvest?

I’m planting seeds of writing and strewing these seeds everywhere I can, sharing my work through this blog, my newsletter, Medium, sending poems and essays to literary journals and online publications, seeking guest blogging opportunities, sending my poetry manuscript to presses.

Looking to a harvest of more readers, more sharing. Growth in both my art and readership.

I’m planting seeds to grow my creative community too. If you don’t know what I mean by that, read my e-book The Six Essential Ingredients of a Brilliant Life to find out.

How will you nourish these seeds and yourself in the coming months?

What steps will you take to further your heart’s dreams?

How will you care for yourself in body, heart, soul, mind, feeding these aspects of yourself what they need to flourish?

Here’s what I’m doing: Every week I take action towards my heart’s dreams, in fact nearly daily.

This summer I am planning a vacation of fun, inspiration and adventure with my beloved—whew, looking forward to that!

I also read voraciously and widely to keep myself inspired.

And I have daily self-care routines for the health of body, mind, heart, spirit, what I call The Hour of Flowering, one of the tools I teach to my coaching clients.

May this season of spring bring a blossoming of your creativity, your gifts, your dreams, your joy!


P.S. If you would like support, expert guidance and powerful tools to clear the blocks and create the life you desire, contact me for a free Discovery Session to explore how Creative Life Coaching could change your life.

Holiday Self-Care for Artists

Holiday Self-Care for Artists

Artists are often, though not always, introverts. We need plenty of time alone to recharge, reconnect with who we are, care for our hearts and souls.

Holidays, on the other hand, are often busy, social times, when we spend more time than usual in the company of people, not all of whom we would normally choose to spend time with. Or they can be lonely times when we feel left out or grieving.

Artists need time to create and to immerse in creativity, art, beauty, wonder, imagination. Shopping malls don’t supply this, and neither do many family gatherings. But there are opportunities for wonder, creativity and imagination inherent in the holidays.

So, here are a few quick tips to help you take care of yourself during the holidays.

  • Give yourself time alone. Whether it’s a walk by yourself, an hour to read a novel or a whole day alone to do what you love, claim some time alone to recharge.It is perfectly fine to announce during a lull in an all-day family gathering that you are going for a walk alone and that you want to be alone. Let yourself be a model of good self-care and healthy boundaries, instead of falling into the accepted family patterns.
  • candles

    photo by Tim Mossholder

    Maintain time for your healthy routines, even if it’s less time. It’s easy to abandon our routines during the holidays, but this can be quite costly to your sense of well-being. Whether it’s journaling, exercise, creative time or meditation that keeps you sane and feeling good, keep at least a modicum of these practices in almost every day or schedule times for them during the week. You may have to do fewer of them or for less time, but even ten minutes of meditation or journaling in the morning before you get caught up in the day is better than none.

  • Keep contact with your creative spark. Read a few poems, see an inspiring film, make some gifts or decorations, or, if possible, preserve some of your “studio time,” your time for practicing your art form. You will feel a whole lot better giving yourself this gift of time, and others around you will learn from seeing you take care of yourself in this way.
  • christmas cookies

    photo by Michaela

    Look for activities that allow for imagination, wonder, play, beauty. Choose those activities that feel good to you—whether that’s driving around looking at the Christmas light displays and singing carols in the car (Thanks to Molly Fisk for this one!) or reading A Christmas Carol out loud, whether that’s baking cookies or filling your house with candlelight, whether that’s bringing games to play to a party or making hand-made cards, preserve the sense of wonder, beauty, magic, the sacred that is available at the holidays.

    One year when I was feeling very blue and alone at the holidays, a teacher of mine said, “I think of the holidays as a mini Age of Aquarius.” That was very helpful to me to put me in touch with the spirit of love, generosity and beauty available at this time, and to ask myself how I wanted to engage with that spirit. I wound up having a great holiday time.

  • If you feel too alone at the holidays, reach out. Invite others to do things with you and don’t be shy about inviting yourself to gatherings at others’ houses. For many years I would ask friends if I could come over for Thanksgiving or Christmas, or I’d invite friends to come over and bake cookies and play games. I got to choose where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do. If you reach out, you will find there are others who are also needing company at this time. A friend of mine who had an “orphans” party on Christmas day found her house full of eager friends.
  • Creative Display

    photo by Alia Anton

    Keep in touch with how you are feeling. This is really paramount. Get in the habit of checking in with yourself during the day, getting quiet and asking yourself “How are you feeling?” and tuning in and really listening for the answer. And then ask “What do you need right now?”

    Allow all feelings and needs to be welcomed. Just hearing and acknowledging your own feelings and needs is hugely helpful, whether or not you can meet the need at that moment. A five-minute bathroom break is enough to do this check-in during a gathering and can help you feel better.

  • And finally, it’s ok to ask for what you need, to request there be no discussion of politics, or to say that you don’t want to watch the football game and are going in the other room to read, or that you are feeling lonely and need some company. The more you can practice being honest and communicative about your real feelings, needs and desires, the more space it makes for others to do the same. I believe this is a key to making a better world.

I am wishing you a beautiful, magical, wonder-filled holiday season. And, it’s also ok to be sad.

love, maxima


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