Here are 6 ways to practice self-care right now. These tips can help you better handle the stress and uncertainty during this time and reestablish healthy habits that may have fallen off.
Since the onset of COVID-19, we've been hearing an onslaught of information about how we should be taking care of ourselves. From Pinterest-worthy home organization projects to getting your body into top shape, with all of this extra time at home, bucket lists of activities have been making the rounds on social media. And that's where the train can go off the rails.
It can be tempting right now to say that we don't have time to take care of ourselves or invest in our well-being. Instead, we seek comfort. We eat the cookie because we're stressed. Or, maybe the glass of wine because what else pairs with global pandemic? And, the pint of ice cream because, well, it's ice cream. In and of themselves these things aren't necessarily bad choices, but when we turn to them over and over again to escape or numb, those behaviors certainly aren't helpful.
1. Set a Routine
If perhaps there has been one thing that has changed the most with COVID-19, it's our day to day routine. Without a structured time to be anywhere and the whole day to fill, it may be tempting to just let the day unfold. Resist that urge, because keeping a regular routine is critical for maintaining physical and mental wellbeing. Start with creating a normal wake and bedtime and keep it consistent. Then consider what other routines you want to structure between those two bookends.This can include mealtimes, work hours, distance learning if you have kids, family time or time to connect with others, and personal time for hobbies, exercise, relaxing, etc. If that feels like a lot—you don't have to include all of them or even all of those every day—these are just some examples of how you can build normalcy and routine into your day with the activities you are currently doing.
2. Get Adequate Rest
Next to staying home (and safe) right now, sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your physical and mental health. Sleep supports your immune system, mental health, and overall well-being in too many ways to count. Aim for 7-9 hours of good quality sleep a night and avoid the temptation to stay up all-night binge-watching Netflix or, worse, scrolling through (never uplifting) news. If you're currently nowhere near the recommended 7-9, simply start by getting into bed 15 minutes earlier than you normally do. Keep adding 15 minutes to your bedtime each week until you've reached your sleep need sweet spot. To focus on the quality aspect of sleep itself, limit devices such as TV and phones 30-60 minutes before bed to help calm the mind and help with deep sleep.
3. Emphasize Healthy Nutrition
Taking time to fuel your body with quality nutrition will help you sustain energy levels and boost immunity during this time. No gimmicks or restrictive diets required. Focus on meals that include lean protein, fruits, vegetables and fiber-rich carbohydrates (think whole-wheat pasta, quinoa, sweet potatoes and oats)
4. Move Your Body Daily
Staying at home doesn't have to mean sitting still. Regular movement throughout the day helps boost your energy, reduce stress and minimize tightness and discomfort—all things that are so critically important during these times. Exercise can also help you feel more mentally grounded. If you're finding it hard to convince yourself to get 30-45 minute workouts in right now, break movement into periods of 5-10 minutes (think of it as an exercise snack) of any activity you can do. This can include a bodyweight circuit, walks around the neighborhood, taking the stairs or even marching in place. Spread these throughout the day to give yourself a much needed boost of energy.
5. Create Something Meaningful
Another way to give yourself a boost right now is to think about creating something every day. Now, I'm not talking about Picasso-style works of art or poetry, unless that's your jam, but rather an opportunity to have agency and decide how you want to show up and act each day. What's meaningful may be as simple as a connection with your children at bedtime, creating a journal over this period, or making a delicious and nourishing dinner. Take care of yourself by paying attention to what you are in control of and how you want to move through this time.
6. Take Time for You (The Most Important Point)
Lastly, don't forget to schedule time for you. Create boundaries for those things that are most important to you. Boundaries are something you can control, and they give you the time and space to take care of yourself. What do you need to feel your best? Is it exercise? Time to read, or just sit in quiet? It doesn't have to require hours of time, simply being aware of what you need and being intentional about making it happen over the course of a week, may be the act that you need to remind yourself that no matter what happens, you have your own back.
We find ourselves in the middle of unprecedented times where we are learning and adapting to so much change at once. Focusing on what you can control in times of uncertainty is one of the best well-being and resiliency strategies there is. Establish your self-care non-negotiables. Identify ways you can make them happen in small and meaningful ways and remember, be gentle with yourself. One choice or one day will not make or break you. What you do most of the time is more important than what you do some of the time, global pandemic or not.
These Tips are bought to you by L’aJayde&Co & Eating Well Aus.