Self care amidst COVID-19, what does that look like? While we have all been told to ‘do one thing every day that scares you’ to build our resilience, with the current COVID-19 pandemic it feels far more appropriate to do things that makes you happy instead. For some, it can feel like our livelihoods are deteriorating along with people’s physical and psychological health, but we can help ourselves heal and protect ourselves with an appropriate and achievable self-care plan, to keep ourselves positive and help others do the same. If we are unable to keep ourselves psychologically healthy, how can we expect our bodies to remain strong and healthy too? Implementing and maintaining a routine that includes fitness, nutrition and meditation, in whatever form is most suitable, can give our minds a break from the information overload of social media and the news, in order to overcome a spiral into fear and anxiety.
What does self-care consist of?
Just by waking up in the morning, making your bed, eating breakfast and washing and getting dressed can set the pace for the rest of the day. Cooking healthy meals, keeping your home clean and tidy can be the first things we neglect as we slide into a downward trajectory while being forced to stay indoors. However, these simple tasks can make an incredible difference to how we feel about ourselves.
With isolation meaning, for some of us, being completely alone within our four walls, it can quickly force us to shut off other human contact. With smart phones as our only faithful companions, we can either fall into a world of paranoia by continuously checking the news, or we can manage our time effectively, giving ourselves some structure and still communicating with people close to us or using social media posts to find some humour in our situation without feeling isolated or overwhelmed.
Why is self-care so important right now?
Isolation can easily affect our cognitive functioning; we developed over time by learning from other human’s body language, signals and gestures, so care should be taken to find a way to communicate in any way we can. Furthermore, if you usually use messaging applications such as Facebook messenger or Whatsapp; perhaps try to use the voicenote function, voice or video calls, like FaceTime. This shift from typing on a screen to using your voice can create a release which you didn’t know you needed; a sense of closeness to other people, even if you don’t say a word, somebody on the other end of the phone can be a secondary solution while face to face contact is impossible. A simple wave, or a hello from across the street, if possible, can make all the difference to yours and another’s’ day. Otherwise, apps such as ‘Houseparty’ and ‘Zoom’ can let you talk amongst a group of people you know and have a virtual social life, or even a party as people’s birthdays, weddings and other social events are forced to cancel.
It is easy to remember moments in work, longing to be doing something else, or complaining to our friends how we wished we had more time to learn a language, instrument, work on our gardens, allotments or even take more time for our families. While the amount of free time suddenly introduced into our schedules may feel overwhelming; it is important to remember that this can be seen as a rare opportunity to use our isolation to practice our creativity, new skills in the hope of adjusting to the new normal. Utilising spare time to work on ourselves can boost self-esteem, protecting our wellbeing and to have some fun and laugh which is invaluable to our mental and physical health.
The importance of self-care on our relationships with others
If a person has found themselves in lockdown or isolation with a partner, it might have placed a terrific strain on the relationship with the fear of the unknown, limited space and financial stress. Attempting to take up new hobbies together, like salsa dancing, drawing, writing or exercise can help keep tension at bay, while creating a bond and sense of togetherness; something which may have been missing due to hectic schedules before the pandemic.
The initial motivation to do these things is the hardest bit, but as soon as we get moving the endorphins (the happy chemicals in our blood stream), we feel from exercise will keep us ‘up’ and make us want to do more and more. In turn helping us sleep better and continue the process of doing one thing a day that makes us feel happy.
So much attention is being focused on social distancing that we can easily feel like we should not even breath when in the same vicinity as others. This segregation could soon start to crack our managed emotions and create a sense of hostility and suspicion to others when we leave the house for food, medicine or our daily exercise. We must remember that we are all together in this pandemic and it is affecting us all, in different ways, so focusing on solidarity with others in our communities and households to practice tolerance, patience and empathy. This, in turn, will help others practice the same to us, helping us feel cared for and considered, in a time when conflict is to be expected.
What can self-care do for us in the long-term?
These times may make us realise what we really value in life and what we really need. Reducing our online shopping and fast paced consumerism we have become accustomed to, can help us retain some of our core values. Taking the time to bake, cook, or repair something broken that we were going to throw away can make us feel proactive and self-sufficient in a time when we may be battling feelings of hopelessness and lack of control. We can think back to previous times of social difficulty, when people realised the value of each other’s skills and resources, making the most of what they had.
While many may feel that their ability to be creative, active or constructive is stifled due to isolation; now is a time to think outside the box and put psychological health at the forefront of our minds. Looking through old photo albums to remember happy memories, calling and catching up with an old friend can help you remember to smile and remember that there is life beyond this situation. Furthermore, if you are not feeling well enough to talk to others, writing a journal, or creative writing can be incredibly cathartic. Putting pen to paper, especially when writing about our feelings, hopes, fears and angst can be an excellent release, lowering stress levels and therefore boosting immune system and psychological wellbeing.
If you are in doubt about what you can do, there is lots of information online; so don’t wait until things become unbearable, practice self-care regularly and fastidiously to help pass the time constructively, healthily, keeping yourself safe.
Equally, if you have a client, or know of someone who is struggling to find the right help for any form of mental health issue during this pandemic, reach out to us at Khiron Clinics. We believe that we can improve therapeutic outcomes and avoid misdiagnosis by providing an effective residential program and out-patient therapies addressing underlying psychological trauma. Allow us to help you find the path to realistic, long lasting recovery. For information, call us today. UK: 020 3811 2575 (24 hours). USA: (866) 801 6184 (24 hours)
*Photo Credit: https://tinytribes.co/