"Close to home…. far from ordinary”
14 Small Self-Care Tips That Will Make a Big Difference During the Coronavirus
1. Make a list of activities that recharge and restore you.
What recharges you is unique—it could be taking a walk, petting your dog, reading a book, baking… If it makes you slump or feel obligated, it does not belong on your recharge list.
2. Identify what you’re grateful for.
There’s a lot of upsetting news out there right now, so all the more reason to find things we’re thankful for. Try to write down something you are grateful for—flowers, your friend, good health, a song—and put that slip of paper in a jar. There are many studies that link a gratitude practice with elevating your mood; it makes our mood lighter as we see that jar of gratitude fill up.
3. Try to have a healthy work/life balance.
Especially if you are currently working from home, create more structure to stick to normal work hours. Make sure you get plenty of down time.
4. Make a “done” list.
Instead of endless “to-do” lists—learn a new language, clean out the closets, paint the room, pull weeds—focus on items you’ve already tackled. Include large and small tasks that you normally don’t notice and then pat yourself on the back for all that you do, especially in light of being in the middle of a pandemic!
5. Put limits on your news intake.
Staying up to date with what is going on during this time is important, but make sure to give yourself bad news breaks. Print is easier to digest than disturbing video and the constant chatter of news outlets. Make sure you read about uplifting events of people doing kind things to help others. Avoid opinion-based news and instead check in with the experts, like Johns Hopkins who are diligently tracking evidence-based research and recommendations.
6. Crack open a book.
Try reading for 30-minutes a day if possible. Reading before bed is shown to help your brain relax and gets you away from over-stimulating screens. Even flipping through a magazine is helpful compared to TV, computers, and smart phones.
7. Let yourself grieve losses big and small.
We’re feeling sad about all kinds of losses right now. Let yourself feel all the feels without judging. Then to help calm yourself, write down all the supportive forces in your life—friends, family, co-workers, animals—whomever or whatever you feel propped up by. It’s a good reminder that we have more support than we know.
8. Pause to check in with yourself every day.
Take time to notice what you are thinking, what you are feeling, how your body feels. Pair this check-in with something that is already routine for you, like brushing your teeth or getting dressed. It doesn’t have to be long or heavy, just a simple noticing “I feel a little down today, I’m going to go easy on myself till I feel better” or “My shoulders feel tight, I am going to do some shoulder rolls.”
9. Try a breathing exercise.
An easy breathing technique that will calm your nerves and help with anxiousness is called “box breathing.”
Step 1: Inhale for 4 seconds
Step 2: Hold air in your lungs for 4 seconds
Step 3: Exhale for 4 seconds, emptying all the air in your lungs
Step 4: Hold your lungs empty for 4 seconds:
Step 5: Repeat for several rounds.
10. It’s hard to keep up any kind of fitness routine, especially since gyms are closed and even some outdoor spaces are limited.
Look to online sources to help—check to see if your usual workout place has Zoom classes or YouTube a class. Remember it doesn’t have to be high intensity or formalized—pulling weeds, stacking wood, going for a walk are all ways to get your body moving.
11. Stay consistent with bed times and rituals to wind down and get in sleep mode.
Take a hot bath or shower to lower your core body temp to initiate a good night’s sleep. Drink some Sleepytime tea, read a book, stay away from those screens!
12. Stretch your body.
Working from home can be especially hard on your body if you are staring at a Zoom screen all day. Plus, we tend to hold emotional stress and tension in our body. Even a few minutes of stretching can release and relax. Many yoga studios (including MMHC’s own yoga classes!) are now offered online. Choose a 10 or 15-minute video to give yourself a break.
13. Keep a journal.
If racing thoughts are weighing you down, consider starting a journal where you can get it all out of your head and down on paper. A little reflection to check in with how you are feeling helps keep you grounded and has a mood stabilizing effect.
14. Be EXTRA gentle with yourself.
Cut yourself some slack! It’s ok that you are not baking bread, learning a new instrument, or taking Mandarin lessons. We’re all going through something that has never happened before in our lifetimes. Life has been changed. You are fine however you are doing this. Have as much compassion and understanding for yourself as you would your best friend.