How a freelance writer uses oracle cards, yogic sleep, and a daily recess to calm her anxiety and stay focused during the pandemic

Jersey Griggs lead
From picking flowers to journaling, writer Jersey Griggs has been nailing down a daily self-care routine.
  • Jersey Griggs is a writer specializing in lifestyle topics who lives on the coast of Maine with her husband and their rescue dog.
  • Pre-pandemic, she had an inconsistent self-care routine — it was anything from watching a Bravo show with a glass of wine to meditating in the morning.
  • But the insularity of the pandemic has given her the opportunity to nail down an actual daily routine.
  • From journaling to yogic sleep, here's the routine she's been using to take care of herself.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Over the course of the last decade, my self-care routine has been inconsistent. Some days, self-care meant rising before the sun to meditate for 30 minutes. Other days, it meant eating a bowl of pasta on the couch, with a glass of wine and a Bravo show.

But with the arrival of COVID-19, everything changed, and I was forced to live a more insular life. Although being stuck in my house had many downsides, there was one positive development: without the distraction of the outside world, it was easier to implement a daily self-care routine. 

It didn't take long to realize that taking time for myself, even during a workday, was imperative for my well-being during this stressful time. Here's the routine that works for me: 

7:00 am: I get out of bed, gratefully accept a cup of tea from my husband, and begin to write in my journal. 

Today I have a lot going on in my head, and I pour my thoughts, feelings, worries, and ideas into three pages in my notebook. By the time I am finished, I feel lighter, unbound by my perceived limitations, and I have a better sense of direction for the day.

Next, I set a daily intention using oracle cards. During the pandemic, I started working with The Wild Offering Oracle; the deck is imbued with hope and usually offers a positive perspective, even when the world feels gloomy. I shuffle the deck, fan the cards, and choose one at random. I record the intention in my journal and keep the card face up throughout the day to serve as a reminder.

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The author choosing a card.

As a rule, I'm not allowed to check my phone until I've completed this routine. Starting my day with thoughtful introspection — instead of going straight to the news or social media — allows me to check in with myself without bias. When I begin my day clear-headed and centered (and without any negative distractions from outside forces) my mental health is rewarded.

10:30 am: After working for an hour and a half, I take a mid-morning break to meditate.

This habit began at the onset of the pandemic, when I was invited by a friend to meditate with the San Francisco Dharma Collective. The community-led sangha offers a virtual morning sit every day at 7:30 PST/10:30 EST, and the unguided group meditation is open to all. 

Meditating with a group at a designated time has allowed me to cultivate a more consistent practice; eventually, I became accustomed to meditating on my own as a way to break up the morning.

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The author meditating.

This morning, I am feeling creatively blocked. Instead of berating myself for being stuck, I give myself a literal break. As I settle onto my meditation pillow — which is just around the corner from my desk — I choose to put my frustration aside for 15 minutes. 

I set a timer on my phone, close my eyes, and drop into the quiet. As I focus on my breath, I'm able to clear the clutter in my brain; it feels like a return to myself. 

Shortly into the meditation, an idea pops into my head. For a moment, I recognize the solution to my problem, but I ignore it by focusing on my breath. When the timer goes off, I open my eyes and return to my desk with a fresh idea, eager to work. 

12:30 pm: After eating lunch, I allow myself 30 minutes of free time to spend outside, sort of like recess during school.

Before the pandemic, I used to rush back to work, worried about getting everything done. But during quarantine, I discovered that I benefited greatly from any time spent outside, even during the workday.

What I do during this time varies from walking the dog to weeding the vegetable garden, but one thing remains the same — it is time I carve out to enjoy life away from my desk.

Today, I pick a bouquet of flowers from my garden to drop off at my neighbor's house, who recently lost her dog to cancer. Picking and arranging flowers is simultaneously soothing and joyful, and it's a new favorite pastime.

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The bouquet of flowers.
 I admire a bee drinking a sunflower's nectar and stop to watch a butterfly float past, finding myself grateful the pandemic gave my husband the time to dig these new flower beds.

When I return to my computer, I feel rested and rejuvenated. Instead of detracting from my profession, I've found that this scheduled free time translates into more focus and greater clarity during my workday. 

8:00 pm: Today is Wednesday, which means it's time for Yoga Nidra with Becca Stoltz, creator of the Mindful Breathwork Project.

Also known as "yogic sleep," Yoga Nidra is a guided practice that takes you to a place of deep consciousness, a state somewhere between wake and sleep. 

In recent months, it has become an invaluable part of my weekly self-care routine. It's been helpful in releasing the physical discomforts and mental anxieties that often accumulate over the course of a week. 

Before signing onto Zoom, I brush my teeth and put on my pajamas, as if I'm getting ready for bed. Then I climb under the covers and arrange myself into a comfortable position. Lying on my back, I have an extra pillow under my knees and an eye-pillow over my face. My dog climbs into bed to snuggle at my feet, providing an added dose of comfort.

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The author practicing Yoga Nidra.

As Stoltz begins to speak in a soothing, rhythmic tone, she asks everyone to remain curious about any sensations, emotions, and thoughts that may arise throughout the course of the class. 

With this gentle reminder, I register that the current state of the world has me on constant high-alert and I mentally switch off the part of my brain that tells me to be fearful. As we go through a systematic relaxation of the body, I realize how much I've been gripping throughout the day and I allow myself to let go completely.

Over the course of the next hour, Stoltz continues to use different breathing exercises, meditations, and visualization techniques to help me go deeper and deeper into a state of relaxed consciousness. 

By the end of the class, I feel as if I'm floating on a cloud, without a care in the world. I stay in bed and drift off into a deep and restful sleep — which is perhaps my favorite self-care practice of them all.

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