Self-care during COVID-19

I’ve been hearing the term “self-care” being used more frequently in conversation over the past few years, both in person and via social media. For me, this prompts the questions of what is the meaning of self-care, and what does it look like?

According to the Oxford dictionary, self-care is defined as “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health,” and “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.” 

To take care of ourselves, we need to play an active role during the process. This means becoming aware of our current situation, being present within this situation, and planning what we can do to move forward.

Everyone experiences stress for a variety of reasons, whether it’s from the COVID-19 pandemic, work, or our relationships with family and friends. Self-care is a strategy that can be effective in regulating and managing our stressors. By bringing us peace, clarity, and energy, self-care can help us cope with the stresses of everyday life.

Self-care is important, especially during a pandemic, because we may experience many ups and downs due to the fluid situation. This affects our moods and emotions, thus affecting our overall health and well-being. When we are stressed, our cortisol (stress) hormones release from our bodies, leaving us feeling tense, anxious, and tired. 

This uncertainty can manifest itself in many ways, like anxiety, which may lead to self-neglect. When we are stressed out and overwhelmed, we can forget about simple things like getting enough sleep, eating properly, and getting physical exercise. This can become a negative cycle, one which can be difficult to break. 

Self-care is important because it allows us to step back from the stress of everyday life and focus on ourselves. Self-care is a time and space in which we allow ourselves to heal and help ourselves become healthier and happier. We owe it to ourselves the opportunity to be the best that we can possibly be.

With the current public health crisis, finding ways to take care of ourselves can not only be difficult because of the restrictions in place but confusing from not knowing where to start. COVID-19 has had more than its fair share of social, economic, and political disruptions and has been devastating for many. The uncertainty and unpredictability of the situation is alarming but we can’t let it devour our lives or ruin our day. 

We may not know how to take care of ourselves right now, and I think during these times especially, it goes without saying, self-care is important. But self-care doesn’t have to be complicated, costly, or time-consuming, and can look different from day to day and person to person.

Self-care could be anything from preparing that special Friday night dinner in the kitchen with your partner or family member to blasting your favourite music you dance and sing your heart out to while the oven preheats. 

For some, self-care may be enjoying that first morning cup of coffee that smells too good to be true! Or perhaps it’s simple self-affirmation, reassuring yourself that you are worthy and deserving of love in every way possible. Many will find opportunities for self-care outside, such as taking a stroll through the garden, playing catch, or catching up with neighbours, from a distance, of course.

My approach to self-care is the spare room in my basement. That’s right, a little room in the corner of my parent’s basement. It’s not much, but I like to call it mine for the time being. Maybe it’s the fact that it shows me how little I need to actually help make me feel good. 

Besides life’s necessities, it turns out I don’t need or want much. Finding half an hour a day to retreat to my little escape, with some music or a good book, is often just what I need no matter what the world has thrown at me. It works for me, and I enjoy spending time in this safe space.

Now more than ever, we need to take care of ourselves first, so we can give our best selves to others as we face an uncertain future together. Whether we realise it or not, we are all affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in some way. 

Taking some time for yourself is not selfish, but necessary to maintain our health and well-being. No matter how stressful or overwhelming our days are, we need to try and take the time we deserve to check in with ourselves, so we can do it all again tomorrow.

 When the day comes when we’re again able to travel by plane without the threat of a pandemic, we should listen to the voice over the intercom system. They will say something along the lines of, ”In the case of an emergency, place your oxygen mask on first before assisting someone else with theirs.” 
Perhaps we can take something from that, and understand that sometimes, we need a little bit of self-love, and self-care is a great place to start.

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