Tools
Change country:

‘Self Care’ Isn’t the Fix for Late-Pandemic Malaise

If years could be assigned a dominant feeling (1929: despair; 2008: hope), 2021’s might be exhaustion. As the coronavirus pandemic rumbles through its 20th month, many of us feel like we are running a race we didn’t sign up for, and it’s getting longer every mile we run.

With this slog has come a renewed focus on mental health. During the pandemic, universities have poured money into psychological resources. Corporations have hired chief health officers and invested in wellness services. In 2020, the mindfulness app Headspace saw a 500 percent increase in corporate-subscription requests. Alongside these efforts, a worldwide conversation has grown around “self-care:” anything pursued for the sake of one’s own wellness, including practicing goat yoga, bingeing Ted Lasso, and old-fashioned napping. Self-care has been popular for decades, but during the pandemic it has gained new cachet. Google searches for the term more than doubled from March to April 2020. Countless organizations, including mine, implemented “COVID days”—time off meant for employees to center their own needs.

But self-care alone won’t fulfill people’s psychological needs as we rebound from the pandemic. After many months in relative isolation, we must reclaim connection and meaning. That comes not just from caring for ourselves but also from caring for one another.

Self-care is vital, but its efficacy is specific: It is especially good at softening intense stress and anxiety, for instance among nurses and therapists. Profound distress saturated people’s lives in the spring of 2020, and self-care might have protected against it. However, that distress was surprisingly short-lived: As a task force to which I belong reported, acute mental-health problems peaked early in the pandemic and then quickly subsided."

That doesn’t mean people are doing well. For many, the pandemic’s long tail has replaced intense distress with a duller struggle: languishing, or a loss of meaning amid the Groundhog Day that is pandemic living. Languishing has many sources, but right now I suspect isolation is its driving force. When people reflect on what matters to them most in life, social connections perennially top their list. Even as we emerge from social-distancing practices, it’s easy to miss those connections. People are still adapting to reentry and rebuilding atrophied social muscles. And though self-care soothes, it can be too individualistic to help with loneliness. “Me time” is great, truly, but human flourishing is typically out there with everyone else.

[Read: Late-stage pandemic is messing with your brain]

Languishing might subside on its own as socializing and travel become safe again. But another approach—one that has been shown in years of research to bolster people’s sense of self—is to show up for others. In one of many studies like it, people were randomly assigned to spend money on either themselves or someone else and then were asked how much they agreed with statements such as “My life has a clear sense of purpose.” Those who spent their money on others reported feeling greater meaning, self-worth, and connection. The effects in these studies were small; buying someone coffee probably won’t be your road-to-Damascus moment. But over time, the effects of many small actions can accrue.

This is even truer during trying times. Despite headlines that blare about looting and other crimes, disasters usually bring out the best in people, intensifying charitable donations, volunteering, and cooperation. Kindness has continued through the pandemic, and its benefits have too. In one recent study, hundreds of people were randomly assigned to buy personal protective equipment for themselves or as a gift for a stranger. Spending on others again boosted people’s sense of meaning and connection.

The punch line is simple: Giving boosts meaning in good times, and might be a salve against languishing in tough ones. Here’s the problem: Many people don’t seem to get this. Individuals wrongly predict that spending time, money, and energy on themselves will make them more fulfilled than spending those resources on others. When they act on these illusions, ironically they can deepen languishing and loneliness. Unfortunately, this kind of behavior can intensify when people most need human connection. For instance, individuals who feel lonely or depressed tend to turn inward, focusing less on others, which leaves them even more disconnected over time.

Some people might bristle at the suggestion that they need to devote more time to others. So many of us—parents of young children, children of immunocompromised parents, teachers, health-care workers—have been worn to a nub by helping. Other-care has caused our burnout; how could it possibly be a cure?

The surprising answer is that the very same act of helping can deplete or fulfill us, depending on how we think about it. Imagine helping someone move to a new apartment. To you, this could be an expression of appreciation to a close friend or an irritating obligation you were guilted into. These inner judgments can determine, in part, how doing this favor will affect you.

Researchers have identified psychological ingredients that make helping beneficial to helpers, including autonomy and empathy. In studies run by my own lab and others, researchers checked in with participants at the end of each day, asking whether they had helped someone else that day, how they experienced their act of kindness, and how they were feeling. People reported being more fulfilled on days they helped others, but only when they felt connected to why they were doing what they were doing, and to the person they were helping.

For these reasons, I think we need a complement to self-care days: “other-care” days, earmarked to zero in on positive effects we can have on someone else. Schools and companies can clear time for people not to soothe themselves but to be helpers instead. Among corporations, organized kindness was popular early in the pandemic, for instance when Anheuser-Busch brewed hand sanitizer and Gap pivoted to manufacturing clothing for health-care workers.

[Read: Why are people nostalgic for early-pandemic life?]

Other-care days would build on this spirit, but in different ways. They would shift from grand collective gestures to personal habits of helping, and give individuals leeway to help whomever and however they like, turning kindness into an act of self-expression. This could be integrated with the kinds of care many of us do already, such as parenting. On other-care days, instead of trudging between video meetings and preschool tantrums, a parent could take her kids to volunteer or visit an elderly neighbor. By making space for intention and compassion, other-care days could transform our everyday helping and recuperate its meaning.

Ultimately, the line between self-care and other-care is blurrier than we might realize. People are psychologically intertwined, such that helping others is a kindness to ourselves and watching over ourselves supports others. This idea was embedded in early conversations about self-care. Following its more mundane roots in medicine—when self-care more or less meant heeding doctors’ orders—activists took this idea in a revolutionary direction. In the 1960s, the Black Panther Party launched Survival Programs, mutual-aid efforts designed to encourage preventive medicine, nutrition, and exercise in response to the lack of high-quality health-care access many Black Americans face.

Activists such as Angela Davis and Ericka Huggins broadened this approach to include practices such as mindfulness and yoga, more along the lines of what we now understand as self-care. But their version was still firmly grounded in community. As they saw it, self-care among Black people—especially Black women—was a radical act, denying the oppression that would reduce them. It was also a way to continue pushing against that oppression and toward justice. “Anyone who is interested in making change in the world,” Davis once said, also “has to learn to take care of herself.”

As with so many revolutionary ideas, the narrative around self-care has now been wrapped in marketing; the industry has soared past $10 billion a year in the United States alone. The millions of people who Googled self-care as the pandemic began likely didn’t find information on its community-based roots. They found instead an atomized, hyperpersonal world of tips, products, and services—calming, sometimes expensive tools for being alone in nicer ways—that can help sometimes, and that might strand us at other times.

By integrating other-care into our plans, we can go back to self-care’s broader, more connected origins and rebuild meaning at a time when so many of us desperately need it.


Read full article on: theatlantic.com
Prosecutors Get Showy During Maxwell Trial, Bring Epstein's Massage Table Into Court
Prosecutors brought a massage table into court as a police officer testified it was taken from the same room in the mansion identified by an accuser this week.
8 m
newsweek.com
Curtis Granderson emerges as candidate for Mets’ manager opening
A familiar face presents the Mets with an option to fill their managerial void. 
9 m
nypost.com
Donald Trump Thought Mark Meadows’ Book Was ‘Fucking Stupid’
Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/GettyMark Meadows really, truly thought Donald Trump would adore his new book.In the weeks leading up to the rollout for his soon-to-be-released memoir about serving then-President Trump, the former GOP congressman and ex-White House chief of staff was privately telling others how much Trump would enjoy the book, according to two people familiar with the matter. Meadows, who remained a particularly sycophantic Trump loyalist and adviser well into Trump’s post-presidency, was counting on his former boss, as well as other MAGA notables, to enthusiastically promote and endorse the book to help juice sales.“He thought Trump was going to love it,” one of these sources attested.Read more at The Daily Beast.
thedailybeast.com
Quince Orchard overpowers Wise, 31-13, to cap perfect season with fourth state championship
The Cougars, who have won two of the past three Maryland 4A titles, got stronger as this season progressed.
washingtonpost.com
Bellator 272 results: Jeremy Kennedy grinds out Emmanuel Sanchez to earn unanimous decision
UFC and PFL veteran Jeremy Kennedy leaned on his wrestling skills to win a unanimous decision in Bellator 272's co-main event.       Related StoriesBellator 272 results: Jeremy Kennedy grinds out Emmanuel Sanchez to earn unanimous decision - EnclosureBellator 272 video: Josh Hill clocks Jared Scoggins for one-punch knockoutBellator 272 video: Josh Hill clocks Jared Scoggins for one-punch knockout - Enclosure 
usatoday.com
'Rotten-Egg Stench' From Los Angeles Flood-Control Channel Spurs Violation Notices
The stench is due to a fire that started Sept. 30, SCAQMD said. It was at a warehouse in Carson where two companies kept a lot of wellness and beauty products.
newsweek.com
My Sister, 23, Was Taken Out Into the Snow and Left to Die. It Was Never Properly Investigated
Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/GettyTwo days after Danielle Ewenin learned that her 23-year-old sister had been found frozen to death in a farmer’s field on the outskirts of Calgary, Alberta, a city in southwestern Canada, she said she sat down with a police officer to try to understand how such a tragedy could have happened.It was February 1982 and Danielle, 22, and her parents were inside a family member’s home in Regina, a city in Saskatchewan, Canada, when the local officer, who she said had been briefed by Calgary police, explained that her sister Eleanor “Laney” Ewenin was last seen leaving a downtown bar in Calgary. Two days later, police reportedly found her in a field that Danielle estimates would have been about 20 miles from the town center at that time.“They had told us that it had snowed, so they could see the tire tracks pulling in and the tracks pulling out and that they could see that she was trying to make her way across the field,” said Danielle, who described the meeting with police as lasting about an hour. “There was a building there that had lights on, so they felt that that's where she was going.”Read more at The Daily Beast.
thedailybeast.com
Hannity rips US jobs report: Biden was supposed to shut down virus, not economy
In his Opening Monologue on Friday, Sean Hannity said Friday that President Biden is “shutting down” the wrong aspect of Americans' lives as of late.
foxnews.com
Kevin Durant leads Nets to grinding win over Timberwolves
Kevin Durant poured in a game-high 30 points, while Patty Mills added 23 points and James Harden had 20 points with nine assists.
nypost.com
Minnesota Viking Everson Griffen Reveals Bipolar Diagnosis Week After Police Standoff
During the standoff, Griffen posted disturbing text messages and a video of himself holding a gun.
newsweek.com
Bellator 272 video: Josh Hill clocks Jared Scoggins for one-punch knockout
The fight came to a sudden end early in Round 2 after Josh Hill delivered the boom.       Related StoriesBellator 272 video: Josh Hill clocks Jared Scoggins for one-punch knockout - Enclosure'The Alpha Ginger' Spike Carlyle pulls off improbable comeback at Bellator 272'The Alpha Ginger' Spike Carlyle pulls off improbable comeback at Bellator 272 - Enclosure 
usatoday.com
CBS Evening News, December 3, 2021
Parents of Michigan shooting suspect charged; Customers step up to save beloved general store
cbsnews.com
Tampa Bay Bucs Coach Says There Are Probably Other NFL Players Misrepresenting Vax Status
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said his team cooperated with the league's investigation of his players' vaccination status and hopes it continues to other teams.
newsweek.com
CDC's Walensky: COVID-19 'Likely to Become an Endemic Disease'
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Friday on MSNBC's "The Beat" that COVID-19 will likely become an endemic virus that has a constant presence like influenza.
breitbart.com
In Oxford School Shooting, Sheriff Rips Prosecutor Over Parent's Escape
"We did not know these charges," the sheriff stated.
1 h
newsweek.com
US Intelligence Says Russia Planning for a Ukraine Invasion With 100 Battalions, Artillery
An official speaking to the Associated Press said American intelligence shows Russian movement for a possible invasion is already underway.
1 h
newsweek.com
Nurse charged with making fake Covid-19 vaccine cards
A nurse in Columbia, South Carolina has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of making fraudulent Covid-19 vaccination cards, according to the US Attorney's Office for the District of South Carolina.
1 h
edition.cnn.com
Prez’s lost war on COVID: Biden still trying to ‘beat’ virus — and failing
President Joe Biden has badly responded to the pandemic with vaccine mandates and constant restrictions -- after touting how much he would do better than his predecessor, Kimberley Strassel writes.
1 h
nypost.com
Mississippi Death Row Inmate Asks State to Execute Him After '25-Year Wait for Justice'
"I ask to see that my execution should be carried out forthwith," said Grayson in a letter to the state Supreme Court justices filed Friday with the court.
1 h
newsweek.com
A change in the weather pattern could mean a chance of rain for L.A. next week
A change in the prevailing weather pattern offers hope for some much-needed rain in Southern California, with above-normal precipitation and below-normal temperatures forecast.
1 h
latimes.com
Wizards come undone, get blown out by Cavaliers at home
A 27-2 Cleveland run that bridged the second and third quarters was a big reason why Washington dropped its third game at home.
1 h
washingtonpost.com
Bellator announces eight-man bantamweight grand prix for 2022
The fifth Bellator grand prix of the Scott Coker era is official.       Related StoriesBellator announces eight-man bantamweight grand prix for 2022 - Enclosure'The Alpha Ginger' Spike Carlyle pulls off improbable comeback at Bellator 272'The Alpha Ginger' Spike Carlyle pulls off improbable comeback at Bellator 272 - Enclosure 
1 h
usatoday.com
Florida Woman Who Laundered Money for Child Exploitation Websites Gets 5 Years
Some of the kids on the website posed in "provocative" ways while wearing revealing costumes and underwear.
1 h
newsweek.com
Landlord Seizing Tenant's Belongings During Eviction Mean-Spirited, Unconstitutional: Judge
A Mississippi judge ruled the law that allows landlords to take anything in a home after the time period of an eviction order is unconstitutional.
1 h
newsweek.com
Wizards come undone, get blown out by Cavaliers at home
A 27-2 Cleveland run that bridged the second and third quarters was a big reason why Washington dropped its third game at home.
1 h
washingtonpost.com
Suspected killer of Columbia student was on parole for gang attack, has lengthy rap sheet
Vincent Pinkney, 25, has previously been arrested 11 times since 2012 on charges including robbery and assault, law-enforcement sources said Friday. 
2 h
nypost.com
Colorado supermarket shooting suspect incompetent for trial
A judge ruled Friday that a man charged with killing 10 people at a Colorado supermarket earlier this year is mentally incompetent to stand trial
2 h
foxnews.com
African journalist blasts Biden travel ban: It was built on a lie
An African journalist told Fox News on Friday that Joe Biden "disrespected" his home continent and that former President Trump would have been labeled a racist if he acted that way.
2 h
foxnews.com
Judge Orders Removal of 8 Men From Sex Offender Registry to End Retroactive Punishment
Judge Aleta Trauger said in 2016, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against retroactive implementation of a sex offender law in Michigan.
2 h
newsweek.com
Charging parents after a school shooting
County prosecutor charges parents after school shooting, citing gun purchase and alleging failure to intervene. Are they to blame?
2 h
edition.cnn.com
Rangers blank Sharks as Igor Shesterkin exits with injury scare
Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev combined for 28 saves and the New York Rangers defeated the visiting San Jose Sharks 1-0.
2 h
nypost.com
Over 11K in Air National Guard and Reserve Miss Vax Deadline; Half Await Religious Exemption
Of the approximate 11,000 unvaccinated Air National Guard and Reserve members, around 3,000 have yet to start vaccinating and over 2,000 have outright refused.
2 h
newsweek.com
Tennis Stars Pressure Men's Tour to Join WTA in China Boycott
Several renowned tennis players, including women’s tennis legend Martina Navratilova, sternly criticized the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) men’s tennis league on Thursday for refusing to join the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) in boycotting China over the mistreatment of tennis star Peng Shuai after she accused a top Communist Party official of rape.
2 h
breitbart.com
Michigan school shooting: Community gathers at vigil to remember victims of high school tragedy
People attend a vigil downtown to honor those killed and wounded during the recent shooting at Oxford High School on December 03, 2021 in Oxford, Michigan.
2 h
foxnews.com
Costly Report About Missing Texts From Outgoing Seattle Mayor During 2020 Protests In Limbo
As Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is set to leave office this month, a report on her alleged deleted texts from around the 2020 protests is still not done.
2 h
newsweek.com
Mahathir Mohamad Fast Facts
View CNN's Fast Facts on Mahathir Mohamad and learn more about the former Prime Minister of Malaysia.
2 h
edition.cnn.com
Police investigating after video of violent home invasion surfaces online
A large amount of money and jewelry were robbed from the Fairfax home, officials said.
2 h
latimes.com
South Dakota woman sentenced in 1981 death of infant son
A South Dakota judge on Thursday sentenced a woman to 10 years in prison for her infant son's 1981 death that went unsolved for decades.
2 h
foxnews.com
Exclusive – Illinois’ Esther Joy King After ‘Wild Wild West’ Afghanistan Rescue Effort: I Know People Who Are Still in Kabul
An Illinois Republican with ties to Afghanistan said that she aided in the August U.S. evacuation efforts after Taliban forces took over the country and that she knows people who are still stuck there.
2 h
breitbart.com
Karl Rove Fast Facts
Read CNN's Karl Rove Fast Facts and learn more about the life of the architect of George W. Bush's gubernatorial and presidential campaigns.
2 h
edition.cnn.com
St. John’s upset hopes evaporate quickly vs. No. 8 Kansas at UBS Arena
The building was waiting to explode all evening, through the slow start, through the defensive and rebounding lapses, through it all. 
2 h
nypost.com
US School Violence Fast Facts
Read Fast Facts from CNN about elementary, middle and high school (excludes colleges and universities) violence with fatalities, from 1927 to present.
2 h
edition.cnn.com
Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Fast Facts
Here's a look at the life of Joaquín Guzmán, otherwise known as "El Chapo," a Mexican drug trafficker who has repeatedly broken out of prison.
2 h
edition.cnn.com
Florida man arrested for 1983 cold case murder after new fingerprint tech links him to slaying, police say
A Florida man was arrested this week for the death of a woman who was found badly beaten and run over at a train station nearly four decades ago after new fingerprint technology linked him to the slaying, authorities said this week.
2 h
foxnews.com
Cuomo spy games: DeRosa used MTA official to secretly record sex harassment accuser
Cuomo's right-hand aide Melissa DeRosa recruited a top MTA official as a spy to secretly record a phone conversation with an ex-executive staffer identified as "Kaitlin" who subsequently became one of the governor's accusers.
2 h
nypost.com
Screen Actors Guild Fast Facts
View CNN's Fast Facts to learn more about the Screen Actors Guild.
2 h
edition.cnn.com
Pre-show party delays opening night of Jeremy O. Harris’ ‘Slave Play’
DJ Papi Juice spun tunes in the new lounge and playwright Jeremy O. Harris had an impromptu dance party as A-list guests like Mark Ronson and Meryl Streep cheered along.
2 h
nypost.com
College football Week 14: Best photos from conference championship games
Take a look through all the best shots from around the USA TODAY Network during Week 14 of the 2021 college football season.       
2 h
usatoday.com