Updated: Jan 12
I think we can all agree that 2020 has been one heck-of-a-ride. Given that we are in the middle of a global pandemic, it is more important now than ever to ensure we are taking proper care of ourselves both physically and mentally.
Being on lockdown for months at a time is draining, especially with so many uncertainties. There are people who have lost their jobs, who are still working, considered “essential” workers, people who are able to operate their job remotely, and people who are in school taking classes online. Even if you’re someone who is working as normal- the stress of this pandemic is completely warranted. No matter what your situation is, you are adjusting to huge changes and that can be really difficult, especially when the whole world is basically shut down.
I’ve been seeing a lot of people in both my friend group, and random people on social media taking advantage of the pandemic. Some have created their own business, some have focused on their fitness goals, and some have picked up new hobbies. This is great! However, I’ve noticed there’s this idea going around that if you’re not taking this time to be more productive, then you’re being lazy or not doing enough.
The truth is: It’s okay to take this time for yourself. You don’t have to be picking up hobbies, losing weight, enrolling in classes, or building a personal brand. You’re allowed to relax and do whatever you want! Why? Because we’re in a global pandemic! The stress of this alone warrants you to take time for extra self care. If you’ve made time to be more productive and you are following a more efficient exercise routine or learning new things about yourself- then that’s great, too! But don’t ever feel guilty for not doing more.
Here are some self-care tips to try out in case you’re struggling with this or just need more guidance:
Implement a well balanced diet- and no I don’t mean go on a diet. I mean make sure your body is getting the nutrients it needs for you to continue growing, be energized each day, and sleep well each night. Implementing this in your day-to-day routine will help in overall health and wellness both physically and mentally.
Exercise- You don’t need to exercise to lose weight. Exercise delivers nutrients to your tissues, giving you energy to be more efficient each day. It optimizes heart and lung health and will improve muscle strength and endurance. It’ll also bring you a sense of accomplishment and increase endorphins which will increase your mood and ultimately make you happy. Exercise doesn’t mean you have to run everyday for an hour or lift heavy weights. Simply going out for a walk through the neighborhood (as long as you’re following social distancing guidelines) would suffice. Don’t let intense forms of exercise intimidate you. There are plenty of fun ways to get yourself moving!
Take a moment each day to focus on your breath and practice deep breathing- Taking time to focus on your breathing will bring you to a whole new level of awareness in your body that you might not have ever realized you had! Deep breathing fills your body up with oxygen and helps to slow your heart rate. This alone can help to reduce stress and bring you a sense of relaxation.
Get outside - Even if it’s just sitting on your front porch. Fresh air is useful for processing, clears your lungs, increases mood, and helps to strengthen your immune system.
Stay hydrated- Drinking water impacts energy levels and brain function. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate amount of water intake each day is about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of water for men and about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of water a day for women.
Avoid harmful behaviors- Stay away from excessive alcohol and drug use. Keyword is excessive. Enjoying a nice “cold one” every now and again isn’t a bad thing. However, engaging with unprescribed substances can cause depressive symptoms and actually induce stress and anxiety, which is exactly what we want to avoid - especially during this time when we’re already feeling it at such a high level.
Follow public health recommendations- It’s hard staying home and basically avoiding people all day everyday, but following public health guidelines will reduce your chances of becoming sick and reduce the risk of spreading illness if you have one- whether you know it or not.
Create a routine or schedule to follow each day- Doing so will keep you on track and help organize your time throughout the day. I try my best to follow a schedule that includes all of the recommendations listed here, along with household chores, or anything I need to complete for work.
Create to-do lists- This helps me stay on track with my routine each day. I also love the feeling of crossing something off my list- even if it’s something small like making my bed. Crossing something off is a great feeling of accomplishment, providing more motivation to continue following the list to get more crossed off!
Take an “off” day- It can be difficult following a schedule each day. Following a schedule is helpful, but we all need a break sometimes! Give yourself a day to relax if needed. Doing things like taking a bath, watching movies, or eating what’s easy and convenient is always allowed. Productivity doesn’t need to happen each day. Giving your mind and body the rest it needs will make you come back even stronger the next day! Don’t ever feel badly about “taking a day.”
Focus only on what's in your control- Most of the anxiety stemming from this pandemic is because of all the unknowns. As hard as it may be- try not to focus on what’s out of your control. If it’s something you can’t change anyway, why let it take up space in your mind? Instead, focus on the little things you CAN control. This includes practicing self care techniques, wearing your mask, and doing what you need to do to get through each day. Focusing on things out of your control will only bring you more stress and anxiety. I know- easier said than done sometimes, but keep at it! Don’t let your overthinking take over.
Connect with loved ones- Although we’re stuck at home only connecting with the immediate people we live with, doesn’t mean you can’t still connect with other family and friends. Make time to call or video chat loved ones you haven’t seen in a while. A fun way to connect is to send letters through the mail. This old school technique is used so rarely that in the small occasions I receive mail, I get really excited! Somehow find a way to continuously check in with your loved ones. This can be done through a phone call, Facetime, Zoom call, or even a quick text message! You can even add a time to do so on a given day (or a few days) each week so it gives you something to look forward to. Connecting with loved ones is so critical during this time. It’s easy to become lonely when you aren’t staying connected. Loneliness can cause depression, impaired immunity, and poor sleep quality amongst others. These are the exact things we want to avoid as much as possible, so don’t be afraid to reach out!
Unplug- Social media can be A LOT to take in right now. There’s so much negativity and fake reports out there that do nothing but bring us down. Unfortunately the media shares more negatives than positives. This gets exhausting! Make sure you take a day (or a few) every once in a while to stay off social media. I’ve found myself deactivating my Facebook account quite a few times since this has all started and it truly feels like a breath of fresh air!
Defriend/Unfollow- I’ve noticed now more than ever people (myself included) are getting really irritated with some of the content their friends are posting and sharing on social media. If what’s being put onto your feed is causing you stress, allow yourself permission to unfriend or unfollow them! Don’t feel bad about it. At the end of the day your mental health is far more important than maintaining an online acquaintance.
Hopefully these tips are helpful for you, especially during these difficult times. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me in the “contact me” tab. I’d be happy to connect with you!
Stay safe, stay healthy, stay you!