Five Ways to Prioritize Self-Care in a Pandemic
Amid a never-ending pandemic, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. It’s even easier when the months are cold and our loved ones are held at a distance. Avoiding illness and putting our physical health first has become a priority for most, but what happens when we let our mental health go unchecked?
It’s crucial that we identify ways in which we can practice self-care and maintain our mental health. Neglecting it leads to anxious thoughts and allows for feelings of powerlessness and irritability to creep in. In a world of uncertainty, feeling worried is to be expected, this is all the more reason that we must prioritize self-care.
There are many forms that self-care takes; from mindfulness activities to spending time getting to know yourself, self-care is vital for building resilience against life’s stressors that we, unfortunately, can’t physically remove. With this in mind, it’s saddening that people tend to view this self-care as a luxury, rather than something everyone is capable of practicing. This article will detail a few ways we can focus on ourselves in simple and cost-efficient methods.
Taking care of your body is the easiest form of self-care, as there are a variety of ways to do it. Physical self-care can include things such as how much sleep you’re getting, what sorts of food you’re consuming, physical activity, or just managing your overall physical well-being. Some ideas to practice can include:
- Developing a morning/night routine
- Eating nutritional food, or eating food that you love
- Spending an hour stretching or doing light exercise
- Going for a walk
- Getting enough sleep
- Cutting back on caffeine and drinking more water
Your psychological well-being is just as important as your physical. Keeping your mind sharp and engaging in mentally stimulating tasks are great ways to practice self-care. Focusing on subjects you enjoy, or things you find to be fascinating can make mentally engaging activities feel both more enjoyable and more intimate. Some ideas can include:
- Reading a book, or watching a movie
- Doing a puzzle
- Creative tasks like writing, drawing, singing or photography
- Journaling about your day (like a grown-up diary!)
- Listening to music or a podcast that you love
Now, this one is a little bit more difficult with the pandemic, as avoiding the virus is especially important, however, there are ways you can still engage socially with your loved ones. This is crucial because isolating yourself from the world entirely can cause more harm than good. Some COVID-mindful ways to practice social self-care include:
- Spending time with pets
- Zoom calls/group FaceTimes with your friends
- Social distanced outdoor walks
- Streaming media with friends through platforms such as Teleparty or Youtube Watch Party
Taking care of your spirit does not have to be a form of religious practice. It can involve tuning your body into anything that helps you achieve “deeper thought”. This can be done solo or with others but is ultimately done as a means to better understand your connection with the universe. Some ways to do this can include:
- Meditation (solo or guided– there are great videos on youtube for this)
- Channels such as Calm, Michael Sealey, or Lavendaire are good resources!
- Listening to calming music
- Pondering existential questions
- Journaling or writing
- And if you are religious; prayer, practicing cultural beliefs/traditions, studying your religion
Developing healthy coping mechanisms to manage unpleasant emotions is especially important. Activities that help you understand your feelings, challenge them, or express them are excellent ways to practice emotional self-care. This too can be done solo or with a close friend and can be a great way to better understand yourself or the partner you practice with. Some ways to practice:
- Discussing feelings with a friend (or writing them down)
- Artistic or creative expression (cooking/photography/painting etc.)
- Making a gratitude jar
- Creating a self-love playlist
- Removing negativity (things that don’t make you happy)
Self-care is something especially important that we should practice daily. You don’t have to do everything listed, but picking one thing to do each day is beneficial for your mental health. Having a personal self-care routine can dramatically improve the way you feel, and the way you carry yourself.
Hopefully, these ideas can help you further develop personal self-care plans and improve your overall mental health during this challenging time.