As I’ve talked to clients over the last several weeks, there’s one topic that has consistently worked its way into our conversations. The matter of self-care. It seems that many have been so focused on the news and how prevent or limit infection that they have forgotten what self-care is, why it’s important, and how to do it.
Quite simply caring for oneself on a daily basis. Grant it, many may know the term, but not realize what it all includes. It includes caring for our physical, mental, and emotional needs.
Physical self-care is more than just eating each day. It includes eating healthy meals as often as possible. Drinking enough water to stay hydrated and doing some exercise to help relieve stress and keep up your strength.
Mental self-care helps your brain function and alertness. You can do this by reading, journaling, crossword or other puzzles like sudoku, and other activities that will keep your mind stimulated. It’s easy to shut down and desire not to think anymore so-to-speak. Doing activities that not only bring you enjoyment, but also stimulates your mind, will enable you to stay sharp, alert, and maintain clear thinking ability.
Emotional self-care enables you to focus on how you’re feeling any given moment. Being in tune with how you’re feeling helps to reduce stress, feelings of anxiety and depression, and can minimize emotional eating. This could be the biggest challenge for many of us because it requires us to truly confront our every feeling.
Daily? Yes, daily!
Given that the situation with COVID19 is, at present, an ongoing battle has brought into focus the very real need to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves each day. We’re more cognizant of the fact that we have to wash our hands, take steps to “decontaminate” ourselves after being in public, and keep every aspect of our lives disinfected. With those steps being part of our current (and possibly future) “normal” it would behoove us to also include self-care as part of our regular daily routine. But, how?
How to Practice Self-Care Daily
Prior to COVID19 or coronavirus impacting every aspect of our lives, many of us may have already felt the challenge of doing self-care…period. This is especially true for parents (do I see you nodding your head in agreement?), caregivers (where do you find the strength?), students (between heavy class loads and possibly working a job..or two..or three, how is it possible?), and many other situations.
Despite your circumstances, you can be successful at self-care. How? Here are five key tips that can help:
- Incorporate self-care into your routine. Create a daily schedule for meals, exercising, and an enjoyable or relaxing activity. If you can’t exercise or do your enjoyable activity each day, plan to do it a few times out of the week. The goal is to have it scheduled as part of your life’s routine so that it a consideration in everything you do. If you there’s a day where you can’t spend as much time as you’d like in your schedule for self-care, then at least step outside your door and breathe in some fresh air. Just a couple of minutes outside your home can help rejuvenate you in ways you may not have imagined. No matter what, do what you can to keep this time as a priority for you.
- Have a regular sleep schedule. One of the biggest challenges many of us face, before and during COVID19, is having a regular sleep schedule. Barring any health concerns, getting enough sleep each night helps us to wake up more refreshed, mentally alert, and focused. Going to bed and waking up at the same times each day has been proven to improve overall health – physically, mentally, and emotionally.
- Eat as healthy as possible. I won’t lie, I’ll be the first to tell you that I have been snacking, grazing, eating, binging, and everything else during this COVID19 crisis. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s not healthy either. Knowing that has prompted changes I’ll suggest to you. Be conscious of what you are eating, when you are eating, and why you are eating. In other words, are you bored, tired or sleepy, truly hungry, or just in need of some comfort? Eat healthy, well-balanced meals. That helps to provide energy to your body warding off getting sleep while working, a lack of energy, and brain fog that can result in not being able to think clearly.
- Get active. Schedule some time to get more physically active, if you’re not already doing so. There are plenty of online apps, some free and some are low cost right now, to help you get moving. Otherwise, check out YouTube for exercise videos that can help you get more active. If you are currently physically active, find ways to change up your routine – try new work outs that are outside of your current comfort zone.
- Stay socially connected while physically distant. Manage your emotional and mental health by maintaining your social connections. That doesn’t mean staying on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok all day every day. It’s great to check in with those from time-to-time, but plan virtual activities with you, your family, and friends. Virtual happy hours or dinners, game nights, dance parties, or just setting aside time to talk with your friends each day via Skype, Facetime, or other mediums can help you feel more socially connected by minimizing the feelings of isolation.
I have no doubt that you will develop a self-care routine and activities that work best for you. Encourage your family or roommates to support you in your efforts. Set alarms on your devices to help remind you of what you want to be doing and when. Also, use alarms to limit the time you’re spending on activities, such as social media, so you can stay motivated to keep your routine.
We may all be in this together, but we our parts require individual attention. Take care of yourself to help minimize the impacts of this virus on you physically, mentally, and emotionally. That way, when we come out of this, you will already be in a position to keep taking care of yourself for a better, healthier you.
Take care of yourself,