01 Apr Coronavirus & Mental Health: 15 Ways to Practice Self-Care While Social Distancing
Right now, you’re probably glued to the television, YouTube or Netflix with chips in one hand and ice cream in the other. Bottom line, we’re bored. Given enough time, this can be pretty unsettling. To put it lightly, COVID-19 has us on edge. A restless culture in quarantine. In the brief moments we do go out, we see it in the stores. We see it in the news. People seem different, but most of all we see it in our health. The comforts of home have become our sanctuary…and adversary.
No one expected the unassuming coronavirus would take root so quickly, compromising life as we know it and redefining what it means to stay safe, stay healthy, and practice self-care.
How to Practice Self-Care During Difficult Times
At any difficult time, it is essential that you learn the art of self-care and how it can affect not only you, but your loved ones. Whether you are enjoying the extra time at home or fretting over the future, implementing a self-care list will help you to get through this difficult experience with a bit more peace. Take these steps to ensure that you…and your loved ones….feel better:
1. Take a Break From the News
Nothing breeds negativity like negativity! Yes, it is essential to stay aware of breaking news and new situations that are developing, but you don’t need to be on a vicious cycle of negative news consumption all day long. Unplug, play some board games with the kids, take up a new craft or hobby, or just enjoy being together. You have opportunities like you never have before to deepen and redefine connections with your loved ones; take the gift.
2. Get support from your community
With technology, it has never been easier to get support from those that you need support from at this time. Need a medical question answered? Call or text your doctor’s office for answers. Are you looking for ideas with regard to how to improve your remote work performance? Apps like Zoom and Google Hangouts make collaborating with your team much easier. Churches have now begun to hold online services as a way to stay connected to church families and instill a sense of normalcy and faith that things will improve. Stay connected to those communities that you care about, and it will boost your mental and emotional health.
3. Maintain a Routine
In these days of disjunct activities and long days that seem to stretch on endlessly, it is important to establish a routine and stick to it. Kids will need to complete schoolwork; set hours for that and there will be little wiggle room for arguing. Mom and Dad will inevitably need to work; have a start and end time, and leave some time at the end of the day for family check-ins and activities that can strengthen relationships. A routine gives a sense of normalcy and comfort that is much needed at this time; create a schedule that works for everyone in your home.
4. Focus on Improving Your Habits
Now is an excellent time to focus on your health and wellness, improve a skill, set a new goal and work toward achieving it, or changing habits that no longer serve you. Prioritize self-care by establishing new habits, take time to evaluate what is truly important to you, and set about creating the life that you truly want.
5. Refuse to Indulge in Self-Destructive Behaviors
Tension and stress are at an all-time high. Your temper may be short, your list of grievances long, and you may be looking for a way to deal with all of the extra emotional upheavals. Resist the temptation to indulge in binge eating, drugs, alcohol, or family arguments that are detrimental to everyone. Focus on your mental, physical, and emotional health as a way to help your children get through this difficult time as well.
6. Check-In With Loved Ones
Social isolation is hard on everyone. It is important to strengthen relationships and connect with others who may be experiencing fear and anxiety with no one to talk to. Call that grandma who lives alone, or set flowers on the doorstep of a neighborhood friend. There are ways to connect that still make people feel loved and cared about, we just have to get more creative with how we express this.
7. Play Relaxing Music
The healing power of music has long been celebrated for centuries. You have every right to feel anxious and upset about recent events, but dwelling on those feelings will only exacerbate them. Put on your favorite music and dance, meditate, or lie down and let it wash over you; no matter how you choose to experience it, let it heal and refresh your soul.
8. Get Creative With Indoor Activities
Living under the same roof with many family members is going to get messy; it will be essential to get creative with indoor activities to make sure you don’t all get stuck in a rut at this time. Consider crafting, or reading stories and eating s’mores around a “campfire”. How about a Just Dance marathon to get those bodies moving, or engage in a service project that the whole family can get into. Creative indoor activities and quality time will make this time a fond memory in your minds rather than something difficult you all had to get through.
Meditation has been practiced for centuries around the globe. The mind/body benefits of meditation are numerous, and it can help to calm the mind and improve the health of the body if practiced regularly. Spend a few minutes each day in quiet contemplation, slowing your breath and mastering your thoughts. You’ll be able to handle what life throws at you much more readily.
10. Take Care of Your Body
It is now more important than ever to take care of your body with exercise, proper nutrition, and adequate sleep. A balanced diet of quality proteins, whole grains, and lots of delicious, fresh produce are your best defense against viruses and bacteria that can threaten your health.
Exercise your body for at least a minimum of 30 minutes daily–for those of you who don’t like the thought of a lengthy cardio session, why not go for a family walk, or play a game of catch in your front yard? You don’t have to strain and struggle to incorporate fitness into your daily life; it can be in the form of activities that you love doing already, with a little more intensity.
11. Use Technology Responsibly
It can be easy to get sucked into a technological wormhole at this time; it seems that this is our only connection to the outside world, and we spend countless hours in front of the computer and television, which is not good for the body or the soul. If you must use technology, use it for established work periods only, and then unplug when you get the chance to. Make time for relationships, reading, cooking, and other leisurely pursuits that lower stress and improve the quality of your life.
Anxiety, stress and depression take their toll on the body; in these times of additional chaos, we revert to shallow breathing that irritates all the systems of our body, especially the brain. Take some time to slow down and engage in conscious breathing; close your eyes, take a slow inhale, hold for a few seconds, then release slowly. Your body will release tension and stress, your brain will slow down, and you’ll feel better almost immediately.
It is easy to worry about your own situation and your own needs at a chaotic time. Why not choose to focus on the bigger picture instead? Bake some cookies and leave them at the doorstep of your neighbors, donate time delivering medical supplies and groceries to elderly people, or think of creative ways to inspire and uplift others. We have wonderful opportunities to create new habits and new ways of being at this time; step out of your own cyclone and see how you can improve the lives of others.
There is a lot going on right now, and with all of the loss, chaos, and confusion, we are on high alert with our thoughts, feelings, and emotions. It is OKAY to grieve–whether you have lost someone as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, or you are struggling with a financial loss due to all of the economic restrictions, it is okay to have and to process these feelings. Expressing them in a healthy manner will help you to come through a bit stronger on the other side of this adversity; feel and let go. This too, shall pass.
15. Ask for help
If you are experiencing thoughts, feelings, or even physical conditions that seem too big to handle on your own, please ask for help. Getting the support you need at this critical time will reduce those feelings of isolation, fear, and anger that come with facing seemingly insurmountable issues. Connect with others and reach out in any way you can–you will see enormous gifts that come with being vulnerable and accepting assistance from others.
Auburn Crest Hospice: Your Help in Time of Need
At Auburn Crest Hospice, we care about you and your family; we know that you are going through a difficult time right now, and we want you to know that we are here to help. If you are in need of hospice care and support for your family right now, we offer services that support and value all family members, even in the final days of life. We all need a little extra help and support at times, let us help you through your struggle. We will get through this together; contact us today for more information.