As the global fight against COVID-19 continues, many countries are still under lockdown with strict social distancing guidelines in place. Weddings, graduations, and birthday parties have been canceled. Children are out of school, and parents are working from their laptops at home. Fear and uncertainty are rampant as the death toll rises each day.
While there are some perks of spending more time at home, many people feel isolated and frustrated. Feelings of loneliness combined with coronavirus fears are causing serious mental health issues for some. In this trying time, self-care plays an important role in mental and physical wellness. If you've been feeling stressed out by the impact of the coronavirus, here are the best self-care practices you can implement during this crisis and after it's over.
Self-Care During the Pandemic
The best part about self-care is that it can be easily practiced at home. Here's what you can do during the pandemic to boost your mental, physical, and emotional wellness.
1. Focus on Your Sleep
When was the last time you went to bed early and woke up early? Can you remember the last time you woke up feeling refreshed and well-rested? If not, you can use this time to develop a better sleep routine that your mind and body will love. Take naps, experiment with aromatherapy in your bedroom, and limit screen time before bed to come out of quarantine caught up on your sleep.
2. Get Comfortable in the Kitchen
You don't have to go to culinary school to become a whiz in the kitchen. Learning how to prepare healthy meals has never been easier thanks to the internet. While it may be tempting to finish off an entire box of cookies while binge-watching latest Netflix series, your body will thank you for fueling it with nutritious fruits and veggies. As a bonus, you'll experience a sense of accomplishment after successfully executing a new recipe. It's a quarantine win-win.
3. Intentionally Move Your Body
Just a few small exercises each day can make a huge difference for your physical and mental health. If you weren't big on exercising before the pandemic, now is a good time to get in the habit of moving your body daily. Getting in shape doesn't require cute workout gear, expensive equipment, or a gym membership. There are plenty of simple workouts you can do in the living room that will help you work up a sweat.
4. Tidy Up Your Space
Now that you're spending more time at home, you're probably more aware of the clutter that has accumulated over the years. Mess and clutter can worsen feelings of anxiety, reduce productivity, and make it hard to keep an efficient daily routine. If the coronavirus crisis has left you with more time at home, taking time to clean and get rid of clutter can be a great way to reduce stress and get some physical activity. If you're feeling adventurous, you can rearrange your furniture or redecorate using things you already have on hand.
5. Be Mindful of Screen Time
Social media and television are overtaken by coronavirus coverage right now. Even when there isn't a pandemic going on, too much screen time can negatively affect all aspects of wellness. Whether you are guilty of endlessly scrolling through social media, mindlessly watching the news, or binging Netflix shows, taking frequent, mindful breaks from your screens can have a positive impact on your health. Turning off your phone doesn't mean you have to be bored. Use your screen time breaks to practice the other self-care tips listed here.
6. Keep a Regular Routine
If you are at home with nothing to do during the pandemic, creating a routine for yourself can be very helpful, especially if you suffer from depression or anxiety. Routine helps create a sense of normalcy. Wake up at the same time each day, shower, get dressed, and have a few activities scheduled for the day to keep you occupied and help you feel productive. Each night, you can plan a few tasks and activities for the following day to create structure and prevent you from sitting around all day on your phone.
7. Start a Gratitude Journal
Taking time to jot down what you're thankful for is an easy self-care practice that many people enjoy. By focusing on the positive aspects of your life, you will spend less time dwelling on your fears and uncertainties. You can keep a gratitude journal on paper or on your phone. Include journaling in your list of activities when you are planning your daily routine and reap the benefits of this popular self-care practice.
8. Call Your Friends and Family
Just because you live alone doesn't mean you have to be lonely. Make it a habit to call your friends and family regularly. Even introverts need regular social interaction with those they care about, so be sure to reach out and check-in with others, even if you don’t feel like you need to. It will benefit both of you mentally and emotionally. If you can, try to call or video chat with at least one person each day.
9. Give Yourself Praise
Without compliments from strangers, friends, and coworkers, it's important to fill those gaps with self-praise, especially if your love language is words of affirmation. You can praise yourself any time you wish by complimenting yourself out loud, writing down affirmations on notes and placing them where you will see them often, or by telling yourself "good job" after completing a task. It may seem trivial, but praise can help create a positive feedback loop that can keep you mentally strong during quarantine. If words don't matter much to you, you can reward yourself in other ways to reinforce positive behaviors.
10. Watch Something Funny
Kicking back with a drink and watching something that makes you laugh is always a good idea during quarantine. This is a stressful time for everyone, and laughing is one of the best ways to relieve pent up stress. Whether you enjoy professional standup comedy or crazy cartoons, there's nothing wrong with taking a day to relax and laugh until you’re hoarse. Make some snacks, put on your sweatpants, and show yourself some love through the power of laughter.
Self-Care After the Pandemic
When the pandemic is over and life returns to normal, the transition won't be easy. These self-care tips will keep you sane once the world starts turning again.
1. Learn to Say No
As life returns to normal, expect to be inundated with invites, projects, and requests for help. While it may be tempting to commit to going out every night, taking on more responsibilities at work, or helping others, don't forget that your time is limited and valuable. Just because social distancing is no longer required doesn't mean you can't take time to be alone if that's what you need to feel well.
2. Treat Yourself
Post-pandemic is the best time to support local businesses by treating yourself to a massage, manicure, or haircut. After being cooped up inside for several months, feel free to treat yourself to a tension-melting massage. It will loosen tight muscles, reduce stress, and help you feel relaxed and ready to go back to normal life.
3. Notice Who You Didn't Miss
Everyone has people in their life that they wish they never had to see again. While you may not be able to avoid all negative people, like coworkers, post-pandemic is a good time to evaluate your friendships and potentially cut ties with toxic people. If you found yourself secretly happy that you were quarantined away from certain friends, show yourself some love and cut out toxic friendships.
4. Keep Sleeping Well and Eating Healthy
Just because quarantine is over doesn't mean you have to go back to sleeping and eating poorly. You may have to make adjustments once you go back to work, but sticking to your healthy sleep routine and nourishing diet will keep you mentally and physically well long after the pandemic is over.
5. Do Something You've Missed Dearly
What's the one thing you've been longing to do since the lockdown began? Whether you are craving food from your favorite restaurant, or you can't wait to go to the beach with your friends, be sure to make those activities a priority when it's safe to do so. Getting out and enjoying yourself will boost your mental wellbeing after the pandemic.
6. Take a Trip
Once the pandemic is over, take a trip to celebrate. Even if you don't leave the country, you can shake off cabin fever by taking a road trip or a plane ride to another state. Get out of the house and see something you've always wanted to see. You can bring your friends along with you for a post-pandemic celebration that you'll never forget.
7. Spend More Time Outside
After being cooped up for so long, your mental health will benefit from time spent outdoors. Sunshine and fresh air are great wellness-boosters, and there is so much to enjoy in the great outdoors. Go camping, hiking, or swimming with your friends to get some much-needed exercise and social interaction after the pandemic.
8. Get Started On Your Bucket List
Whether you dream of going to Paris or taking a cooking class, accomplishing items on your bucket list will bring you happiness and fulfillment. Travel restrictions may remain in place after the pandemic is over, but you can get started on other bucket list items. This pandemic has been a stressful event, so don't feel guilty about taking control of your life and finally realizing your dreams.