Today I will be talking about self-care during a pandemic and what has helped me adapt to the lifestyle changes that have occurred over the past couple of years.
We are living in uncertain times. Each day brings a new set of challenges and changes to our daily schedule and routine.
Many people are feeling the stress and are not sure what the safest way is to manage it.
Whether we embraced or rejected the idea of social distancing, working from home or not being able to do all the normal things we used to take for granted, this year took a hit on our well-being and affected us by completely changing our lifestyle.
Even the toughest people I’ve known, admitted that it was not easy to go through the lock-down period, to be unable to visit their family and to completely give up your social life.
As time has gone on, anxiety and mental health issues have gone through the roof, so it’s even more important that we make time and don’t forget to look after ourselves.
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WHAT IS SELF-CARE?
Because it’s important we’re all on the same page, right?
Let’s start with a self-care definition from Oxford Dictionaries:
“The practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.”
“The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.”
So basically, self-care is you and I taking responsibility for our own health, both mental and physical.
Seems pretty legit and certainly not self-indulgent.
In fact, for anyone to suggest that taking responsibly for your mental and physical health is anything but common sense, well they’re the one’s sounding ridiculous.
Please don’t let anyone shame you for self-care or listen to anyone that says anything negative about your self-care practices.
You are taking responsibility for your physical and mental health, that is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about at all.
Self-care is not selfish – as mentioned earlier, it will improve you as a person, and that will make you a better person to be around.
SELF-CARE IS THE DAILY ATTENTION AND LOVE FOR YOU!
When you take care of your needs, you feel nourished, content, in balance and this supports your ability to feel at peace. Self-care builds resilience in times of challenge.
Self-care is self-love. When you identify what nourishes and feeds your soul, and as you provide this for yourself, you feel loved.
It’s important to assess how much self-care you give, especially if you have recently (or if you have for a prolonged time), felt emotionally or physically drained or exhausted.
Self-care is also a learned behaviour. We are shown how to do this early in our lives as it is modelled by our caregivers and taught to us.
You may need to teach yourself self-care if it is something that you have not learned.
As self-care becomes a naturally occurring daily habit, your positive feelings about yourself grow immensely – and you feel autonomous as you are able to care for your needs.
Why is self-care so important?
In my opinion, as well in the opinion of a countless number of medical professionals, you should be practicing self-care year-round.
But, on March 11, 2020, the WHO (World Health Organization) declared COVID-19 an official pandemic.
On that day, the reality of our world changed and life hasn’t been the same since.
Many people dismiss the notion of taking care of ourselves. They’re are too busy, there are more important things going on in the world than our looking after themselves.
But the truth is, you need to take care of yourself now more than ever.
The reason is that we are simply living in stressful times, and to prevent our mental health from going down the drain, self-care is a must.
If you are a pro at this, keep doing what you are doing. But, if you have never practiced self-care in your life, there is no better time than now to start.
Below are some tips that I have put together that have helped me during these stressful times.
Self-Care During a Pandemic – Ultimate Guide!
I thought this was complete nonsense a few years ago, now I love it.
The one thing that calmed my mind beyond belief, if done properly, is meditation.
This helps you become at peace with your thoughts, and also mindful meditation helps you stay in the present moment.
Try to meditate before breakfast, if not, then late afternoon/early evening is a good time to do it.
Meditation will seem like a chore at first, but the more you practice, it will become more of an enjoyable experience that you will look forward to.
There are tonnes of videos on YouTube to help you get started.
When you practice Mindfulness you expand you consciousness which brings you peace of mind.
I can’t explain how much this practice has changed my life. When you’re mindful your life will transform massively.
By living in the present moment, you become at peace with your past thoughts and illusions made up in your mind.
Observe your thoughts, become at peace with them, take away the emotional attachment.
When you find your mind wandering, revert back to the present moment.
The more you live in the present moment, the mind quickly loses control over you. The mind is a tool that should be working for you, not controlling you.
This takes a lot of practice, as your mind has spent so many years in control. The mind has been projecting its illusions on you all your life.
Purchase a book, research it on YouTube. The Mindfulness practice is life changing when used consistently and persistently!
Practice gratitude everyday
Focusing on gratitude will instantly shift your mindset to positive.
No matter what is going on in your life, you have the power to shift your focus to gratitude.
I also encourage the use of a gratitude journal – Every day write down or even just note in your mind at the end of each day, focus on everything you’re grateful for in your life and also how those things impact your life.
Always aim for at least 3 things.
Here’s some examples from my own journal:
- I am grateful for the increase in traffic to my website today
- I am grateful for the nice walk I had with Jo and Alfie (the dog) today
- I am grateful for seeing the twins today
Try to make your gratitude note specific to today. So rather than me writing I’m so grateful for everyone who visits my website.
I would write, I’m so grateful for all of the people who visited my website today, and I’m especially grateful for the lady who took the time to leave a message saying how helpful my post was to her.
Gratitude is life changer when practiced regularly.
Self-care is the emotional expression of giving yourself permission to heal, to return to peace – to be whole. It is the permission to release past hurts and self -recrimination.
When we forgive our self, and as we use our experiences as a learning ground for how we wish to be in the present and future, we can hold comfort in knowing that the experiences of our life, and our actions may hold presence – they are towards something pure and of meaning.
If you hold yourself in contempt for the actions of your past, you are not allowing yourself to heal – nor integrate what new information and choices you are now choosing.
We learn through trial and error – of not always knowing the right answer, of not having the capacity in some moments to live from our heart – to do our best.
If you want to practice self-forgiveness, begin with your gentle urging – your willingness to accept all of you as imperfect and perfect – as a work in progress towards all that you desire to be – and of the knowledge that everything serves to teach you much if you allow it.
Start with these words, said out loud: “I forgive you. I love you.” Notice how these words resonate at a much deeper level, offering you the permission to forgive yourself.
Say these words with compassion – allow yourself to take them in, to feel their weighted presence and relief.
Focused breathing can help activate the body’s relaxation response, just 20 to 30 minutes of abdominal breathing every day can reduce both stress and anxiety.
Tapping into your breath is one of the quickest and easiest ways to calm your nervous system, Try an exercise like box breathing to begin feeling more centred immediately.
Square breathing involves inhaling, holding your breath, and exhaling, all in counts of four.
Make sure you’re in a comfortable position, whether it’s sitting down or lying on your back.
Take in nature
When you ground yourself in nature, you discharge negativity, and even more importantly, you recharge yourself with the loving and nurturing energy from Mother Earth.
After grounding yourself you’ll feel renewed, refreshed, centred, and balanced.
Whether you simply walk barefoot in your garden, or go to the beach or the wood, just get out in nature, allow yourself to be present by opening all your senses: see, taste, hear, smell and feel.
If you live in a big city or work in an office, you may feel you don’t have much opportunity to connect with nature.
Nature time could be:
- Spend time in your garden.
- Walk around a park.
- Go to the woods.
- Plan your next vacation around nature time.
- Visit a lake or river
This is also where crystals, essential oils and houseplants come in. You may want to bring little bits of nature with you and consciously tune into them at home.
Keep a routine
Sticking to a regular routine can help you regain a sense of stability and keep a better structure to your days during a time when it feels like we can’t even keep track of what day it is.
Have you ever slept in way too late and just felt like your whole day was ruined and like you were so behind on everything?
I have for sure and it’s not a good feeling!
So, try to wake up and go to bed at the same time every day, and stick to somewhat of a consistent routine to reduce your stress
As hard as it may be, be sure to stay active. Staying active will strengthen your immune system, which will help your body to fight off any type of illness.
Not only that, but during a time in which we are often feeling distant from the world around us and incredibly uncertain of what the future might hold, staying active will also help to strengthen your mental health as well.
Do an at-home workout, or go for a 30-minute walk or run outside, even lift heavy boxes in your garage – be creative, but just make sure you are remaining active.
Yoga may be considered exercise but it is more about a philosophy, a mindset – and a way of approaching life that includes the union of body, mind, and nonphysical awareness (as energy).
Whether some gentle asanas (postures) to stretch and strengthen your body first thing in the morning, as a healthful break during your work day, or perhaps an online class, you are choosing to nourish all aspects of yourself through mindful attention, posture awareness, breathing, care and love of yourself.
The benefits of yoga are remarkable.
Maintain a healthy diet
Staying motivated to eat healthy is extremely difficult during a lockdown, and that can be hard if your energy levels are down from your body trying to process a bad diet.
Maintaining a healthy diet doesn’t mean you need to give up on all the unhealthy foods you love.
It’s all about moderation, listening to your body, and being mindful about what goes into your body.
Eating better has also been shown to increase overall brain function, energy levels, and self-esteem (because when you look good, you feel good!).
Limit your social media/ news consumption
Even for me, limiting social media or even unplugging completely is the hardest for me. Asides from trying to drive traffic to my blog and grow my accounts grow, social media helps me stay in touch.
It also keeps me informed about the state of the world and the new rules surrounding the current lockdown.
But all of this, to be honest, can be too much – right now, except you work for a news publisher, it’s not healthy to keep track of the current coronavirus cases.
You need to detach yourself from it to be able to cope with the situation.
Already, people are mentally struggling with the lockdown – subjecting yourself to daily news is just going to do more harm than good.
I’ve already starting limiting my news consumption and I can feel the difference in my health – you should try it too.
Choose your focus
Self-care and mental health are all about understanding what you want your focus in life to be and what choices you make based on that.
This could involve moving your focus to a new hobby or passion, or changing your attitude towards the things that bring negativity to your life.
By choosing what you focus on in your life, this means you stay busy and concentrate on those things that make you feel positive, happy, and in control of yourself and your mental and physical health.
Make sleep a priority
Both your body and mind are experiencing a lot of changes right now. We have never had to be cooped up for this long.
One of the best things you can do for your body and mind is to give them time to rest and adjust to what is the new normal – at least what has been the new normal during recent times and looks to be for the foreseeable future.
Regardless of the time you normally wake up, try to get to be a half-hour earlier or even an hour earlier.
Give your body and mind the rest they need so that they can perform to the best of their ability.
Strive for no less than 7-8 hours of sleep per night. If you are having a difficult time getting this amount, ask yourself what’s more important: sleep or Netflix?
Read self-help books & articles
In the worrisome times of this pandemic, the perfect means of both learning and escape are: books!
As you social distance at home during this COVID-19 outbreak, it is a great opportunity to dust off books that you always wanted to read, or add new ones to the list – and an even better time to work on improving ourselves.
One of my favourite things to do when I feel overwhelmed is read.
It makes you realise that the things you are feeling are not uncommon and that things will get better. I also find that it can open my mind and allow me to see something in a different way.
I can’t recommend the following books enough, the below have been life changing for me:
Schedule time to connect with friends/family weekly
Connecting with family and friends may increasingly fall off your radar as the pandemic stretches on, so that’s why it becomes even more important to keep up with outreach.
Connecting with those you love will help you feel grounded, and remind you about the world and people outside of your immediate living space.
Spending time with loved ones may seem more difficult due to lock downs, but with technologies like Zoom and Google Hangout, it’s actually easier by most accounts.
Adding hangout time to your new routine will help give the brain a break from whatever it is that may be causing heightened stress and anxiety (for most, a dangerous pandemic).
Seeing and conversing with people is also a good way to escape from the heavy dose of negativity that the news steadily delivers.
With screen sharing capabilities, there are a lot of fun things you can do with friends via your computer, like playing board games or even watching a live stream concert together.
Declutter your home
Tidying up your home can be a real mood changer. Being disorganised can increase a person’s cortisol and stress hormones levels in body. It makes you feel distracted and disrupts your concentration. Take time to organise your home everyday.
Pretty much any sort of negative mental aspect is temporarily flushed out when you’re laughing. In addition to the mind, it also relieves stress in the body by relaxing the muscles.
There is a chance you’ve already made it through every episode of your favourite show, but if you have an internet connection, YouTube has lots of free content to keep you busy.
Self-Care During a Pandemic – Final thoughts
Your body and mind are always going to be your most valuable assets. To get through each day, you need to do whatever you can do in order to keep both in good shape.
Remember to cut yourself some slack and to go easier on yourself during these challenging and pressing times. Schedule time for yourself and make yourself your own number one priority. Your mind and body will thank you.
I would love to hear your thoughts on what you are doing to change your life in the coming days and years!
If you have any questions please reach out to me via firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you!
I really hope you found inspiration in this article.
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Hello! My name is Adam and welcome to my space on the internet. Here you can find me writing about subjects such as spiritual growth, self-discovery, wellbeing, addiction recovery and mental health. Please connect with me on my journey and join the community!