Since the COVID-19 pandemic, each of us has had to adjust to a new set of unexpected challenges. Self-care is one of the first things sacrificed when life gets crazy. However, it’s neither selfish nor self-indulgent to prioritize your own wellbeing. Now more than ever, you should focus on what makes you feel nourished and healthy, after all, it’s a lot harder to be there for others if you aren’t there for yourself first.
Give Yourself a Break
It’s incredibly easy to become wrapped up in a spiral of negative thoughts when things are uncertain. Although it may seem like you have too much time on your hands, you may also be tempted to overfill it and add unnecessary stress to your daily routine. Make an effort to set time aside to actively pause, breathe, clear your mind, reflect, and practice positive self-talk. Even 5 minutes of meditation twice a day can be incredibly rewarding. Journaling is a great way to release negative feelings and reflect on what you are grateful for.
Try Online Therapy
Self-care is a remedial practice in and of itself, but sometimes professional therapists can give you tools you didn’t even know you needed. The most common misconception about therapy is that it’s only for trauma or depression. In reality, “normal” people can benefit from therapy too, especially when they are struggling in unexpected and uncertain circumstances. There are thousands of therapists trained to help you work through mental roadblocks and overcome significant crises and every day minutiae. With so many people unable to book in-person appointments the past few months, telehealth services have rapidly developed practice management software that allows licensed professionals to virtually offer the services. Weekly check-ins from the comfort of your own can be incredibly stress-relieving, even after a new normal is established. Don’t be discouraged right away, it may take a couple tries to find a therapist that works for you.
Stimulate Your Senses
There’s a reason there are even whole therapies developed using music. We as humans respond to auditory stimulation and music in general on a fundamental and even subconscious level. It has more of an effect on our brains than we realize and all you have to do is sit and soak it up. In this same vein, it can be helpful just to tune in to a new podcast and take a break from the constant stream of negative news and social media. Adding an aromatherapy candle or diffuser to your jam session might boost your mood and even help you sleep at night. When you inhale, the scent molecules in the essential oil go from the nerves in your nose directly to the amygdala, the emotional center of your brain.
Good sleep in general is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. It can even prevent weight gain, heart disease, and help you recover from anything attempting to attack your immune system. Both your emotional stability and immune system rely on your body having enough time to repair and rejuvenate itself. Try to limit screen time right before bed. The blue light emitted by most of the technology we regularly come in contact with is especially disruptive to your body’s circadian rhythm. Stress can make it even more difficult to get our overstimulated brains to shut off at night. By practicing simple breathing exercises you can activate a relaxation response and help you drift off.
Stay Active and Eat Healthily
Self-care involves both mental and physical health. Try keeping to a schedule to help maintain a work-life balance. We often revert to damaging behaviors like eating junk foods and mindlessly binging tv shows from the couch, the opposite of what our body needs. If you need an energy boost try and stock the house with high protein snacks and whole foods instead of sugary, processed foods. Even working a morning or midday walk into your routine can help clear the mental fog and boost creativity and productivity. There are endless workout programs and influencers dedicated to helping you stay active from home without having to risk the gym. As nearly every aspect of our daily lives continues to change, realize that it’s okay to feel stressed and lost. We are continually hearing about proper handwashing, maintaining social distancing, and wearing masks. However, it’s also important to acknowledge the toll the pandemic can take on our mental health. We are all adapting to a new normal and with the amount of other things going on in addition to the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to put effort into taking care of yourself.