A step-by-step self-care guide during COVID-19 lockdown
Now that we are nearing about 6 months of altered living due to Covid-19, I think it is safe to say that our self-care routines might evolve a bit to reflect the changes in our everyday life. Alone time inside reading a book might no longer be a welcome change of pace when much more of our time is spent indoors and our number of connection points with others have greatly reduced in frequency.
As a wellness entrepreneur, I’m constantly looking for ways to improve personal wellness and find ways to share those connections with others. While I know this concept might seem a little strange at first, I believe that standing in the rain can be healing for many reasons.
It’s important to note that I live in Texas where the summer heat is barely lowered at all by a rainstorm which greatly reduces the risk of sickness that can come with being wet in the cold. With that in mind, let’s talk through my step by step guide on how and why I believe standing in the rain can heal what ails us during lockdown.
Step 1: Embrace the rain
Like any good self-care routine or workout, it’s important to warm up before we start. In this case, we need to set our intentions on embracing the rain.
There are many examples of what this looks when it comes to rain, and they can look very different for each individual person. Common examples would include wanting to ‘curl up with a book,’ stay inside on the couch and watching a movie for TV marathon (remember when that was a change in behavior with our busy lives?) or maybe just staying in bed for longer than we’d consider normal.
No matter the example that comes to mind, the consistent through-line is that we all have some form of understanding that a rainy day is a time to do things a bit differently than normal. It is a time when we deem it OK to allow ourselves a break from whatever it is we are chasing in our day-to-day. The idea is to embrace that idea fully here before we take any physical action. Set the intention that it is not only fine but part of the process, to subvert the expectation of whatever we believe we ‘should’ be doing.
Step 2: Go Outside
With our intention set, it’s time to walk outside. We don’t need an umbrella because the goal here to feel the rain on our skin, but you might want to change into a bathing suit if you don’t like the feeling of wet clothes. The sage advice of not forgetting to bring a towel might apply here for you as well.
Once those preparations are made, turn the doorknob, open the door, and move outside into the rain.
Step 3: Be in the Rain
While this one might sound pretty straightforward, take a moment to explore what being in the rain means for you. For me, I tend to shrink in many situations in order to make things more comfortable for others. As a Queer person who grew up in a rural, conservative, and religious culture, I learned from an early age that I needed to deny parts of who I was to fit in and to get by. I learned that if I repressed myself to ease the discomfort of others, to just keep smiling, that I would be accepted and not deemed a “negative” or problematic influence on the world around me.
As a result, I can inadvertently take up less space even these days now that I am living openly and proud due to this conditioning I’ve experienced. For me, walking outside and deliberately standing in the rain is a reminder to claim the space that is rightfully mine. It reminds me that I no longer have to retreat inside myself to be truly me like I used to when I felt I was only safe to be me late at night when I would let my mind dream up stories to put myself to sleep.
Examine what standing in the rain means for you. What it means about how you view yourself or what you are capable of.
Step 4: Embrace All Your Feelings
Now that we’re in position, begin to take notice of the sensations that are taking place in your mind and in your body. Feel the wet rain on your face and skin. Notice where you are holding tension in your body. Now explore your feelings without the typical labeling of “good” vs “bad” emotions.
A common struggle for many people I work with in my authenticity coaching is the concept of sadness. We view it as negative and work to minimize it by a pretense that all is well in our lives. Even during a global pandemic, a common urge for many of us is to let others know that we are “doing well!” This attitude can be detrimental at all times, but especially these days when so much of our day-to-day is altered.
An understandable hesitation to this notion of feeling and honoring our feelings is to point out that we “have it so much better than others,” or we “can’t complain” as things could be worse. It’s important to remember that we can honor our individual feelings while holding space for the idea that others might be in different situations. There are no medals or ribbons for comparing hardships in this world.
So if this means smiling for you because you enjoy the rain - smile away. If it means shedding tears because you are allowing yourself to feel those “negative” feelings - cry away. The rain hides it anyway. You might find yourself feeling a variety of emotions as your body and spirit work to process all that is going on.
Let the rain come down. If there is wind, let it blow through you. Notice how it feels. This process might take a bit if you regularly try to regulate emotions like many of us often do.
Step 5: Drop the Act
At some point, you might feel a bit uncomfortable standing in the rain. You might experience some discomfort with the idea that standing out in the rain by yourself makes you look a bit unhinged. That is if you even allowed yourself to subvert standards and expectations by simply standing in the rain in the first place.
It’s important to realize that anyone who experiences these thoughts or objections have just cause for doing so. That is because it is very common in our culture to subscribe to the idea that we must project an image of success at all times whether that be in our career, personal relationships, or in how we respond to external stressors like a global pandemic.
We take a positive message that we have the agency to improve our lives for the better and mistakenly contort it to mean that only those who “truly want it” are successful in these areas.
The problem in this belief is that it blinds us to inequity between us. It also creates a broken feedback loop in which we never believe it is safe to appear vulnerable which leads us to do all in our power to project an image of control.
Through this process, we limit the opportunity to receive validation for who we truly are and at some point along the way, the wanting - of a better career, more money, a loving partnership - supplant the idea of being happy and content. It’s only when we drop the act and authentically present ourselves to the world flaws and all, that we can truly live authentically.
We might not all have a closet to walk out of, but we all struggle with external expectations that do not honor who we truly are in some way. Standing in the rain requires us to let those go - even if it is only for a few moments.
Step 6: Wait for the Rainbow
As a fan of Dolly Parton, I'm familiar with the idea that we have to ‘put up with the rain’ in order to get to the rainbow. It’s not a secret that so much of our culture acknowledges the joy associated with rainbows, but like many things, we seem to overly focus on that outcome rather than the entire process.
This isn’t to discount the experience of those who only look out the window to see the rainbow after the rain. We all take different things from life, and we are all on different paths. The point here is that I know when I am willing to stand in the rain on something when I am truly committed to enduring hardship, the reward after the rain has subsided just feels different.
We see others standing in the rain all the time. It’s in their stories of struggle and resilience that we remember that our measurement of worth and value should include the entire process of one’s life and not focus on the bottom line as we almost always seem to do.
Step 7: Rinse, Repeat & Share with a Loved One.
I get the feeling our culture wants us to think we are supposed to deal with all of what I have laid out alone. We are supposed to stand in the rain on our own, even if we enjoy it. We see public group swimming but never public group standing in rainstorms after all.
I’ve come to believe that when we drop all these acts - all these visions and illusions - about how we are supposed to operate in normal life we are able to truly experience life together, not alone. Here we can find purpose, balance, cohesion, and success in our own ways, in our own lives and support each other in the process.
I’m curious, have you ever experienced healing by standing in the rain? I’d love to hear about it.