When's the last time you showered?

Over the past year, the coronavirus pandemic has removed many New Jerseyans from their normal work or school routines, while social gatherings remain scarce and trips to the supermarket aren't even necessary thanks to delivery options.

For that reason, experts worry about, and have seen first hand, the decline in self-care that can form as the public health crisis crawls along.

Get our free mobile app

"We've been able to relax a lot of the structure that actually worked for us — that's all gone," Nancy Kislin, a social worker and family therapist in Chatham, told New Jersey 101.5.

Kislin said that seeing the trend among an "alarming number" of her clients, young and old, prompted her to hone in specifically on this topic, and write an article about it for Psychology Today.

"When taking a shower, brushing teeth, even getting out of your PJ’s feels like climbing a mountain, we must stop and reassess what is happening," she writes in the article.

It's a topic not many people want to confront, Kislin noted. And plenty of parents likely don't keep track of their teenagers' cleanliness routines and bedtime rituals.

"We're living in really strange times — you need to pay attention to that, because the child who's not able, for whatever reason, to take care of themselves, we're in red alert," Kislin said.

In her article, Kislin said depression and anxiety are exacerbated by lack of movement, poor sleep hygiene and poor nutrition. She's heard directly from parents who said they can't get their kids to come out of their rooms.

"It's a slippery slide," Kislin said. "What's life going to look like when we start to come out of this?"

The issue may be able to be handled without a professional's help, she said. Parents have a better shot at success if they make sure not to attack or judge a child — instead, come up with potential reasons to wash up and leave the house, or try to create a schedule that still calls for a daily shower and other "non-negotiable" self-care practices, even if there's no destination for the day.

"Certain things are non-negotiable — brushing your teeth, minimum twice a day, is a non-negotiable," she said. "We need parents to say the obvious right now."

Kislin advises parents not to delay asking for help, for themselves or their children, if initial attempts are unsuccessful.

"This is not a time to go it alone. You can do this. Take the first step by taking a warm shower — and brushing your teeth," she said in the article.

Have You Seen Them? Monmouth County's Most Wanted