Now months into the pandemic, where everything is uncertain, from whether you’ll be able to find toilet paper in the store to knowing whether you’ll be able to pay all your bills this week, anxiety and stress are on a high for everyone, making the need for self-care paramount. What is self-care? It’s not just about taking a bubble bath (although yes, that can certainly be part of your self-care routine). Self-care centers on taking time to tend to your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Women often have a tendency to take care of everyone else first, leaving taking care of ourselves last, if at all. If that’s you, we’re here to remind you that if you don’t give yourself that TLC to refuel your whole being, you’ll deplete your physical, mental, and emotional reserves. Don’t
mistake self-care with being selfish. Taking these intentional steps to respect yourself and your health is what will allow you to give back more to your family, friends, and your community These six strategies will get you on the healthy path now as we live through this coronavirus pandemic and into the future. While much of self-care goes back to the basics of living a healthy life, when life’s demands or a global pandemic cause us to go astray, we could all use a refresher.
Plan your self-care activities
If you leave your selfcare for when you find spare time, we all know happen. You must plan for what the activity is and schedule it into your calendar. It’s not enough to say, “I’m going to enjoy some me-time this week.” Think about what facet you’re feeling depleted in; say, it’s your physical health, then make an appointment by booking the 6 p.m. yoga class or arranging to hike with your neighbor Saturday morning. Make plans to see your best friend; if you’re still social distancing, then make your plans for a picnic outside, or at the very least a FaceTime call.
Cut out from your life the things that make you unhappy
Too often we get into the habit of doing things that make us unhappy. Don’t let these tasks drain you more than they should. It might be the incessant ping of your smartphone, for example. Set guidelines for yourself to turn off those alerts on your phone, even if it’s limited to a couple of hours a night. Or it could even be an element of your self-care routine that you dread, such as running. While running is a good cardio workout, if the idea of it causes you to feel doom and gloom, it’s time to find yourself a new heart-pumping workout that makes you feel alive— for you it might be Zumba, cycling, or swimming.
Feed your body well
To feel good from the inside out, you have to be feeding your body healthy, well-balanced meals. Your groceries should include a rainbow of fresh foods, including a helping of feel-good foods that boast nutrients and minerals such as essential fatty acids (such as fatty fish— add salmon or albacore tuna to your salads this summer), probiotics (look to fermented foods such as kimchi, kombucha, and yogurt), and vitamin D. When it comes to vitamin D, while it is available in limited amounts in food sources and from sun exposure, the simplest way to ensure you’re getting the recommended daily allowance of 800 to 2,000 IU is by taking a supplement.
Being such an athletic community, D’FYNE readers typically excel at making sure they’re getting enough exercise. But living under quarantine or any other shift in life circumstances can throw you off your game. Taking those first steps to get back into an active regimen can make you feel like a brand new person physically (you can’t deny the satisfaction of muscles feeling spent after an intense workout!) and once you start hitting the workouts again regularly, those mood-boosting endorphins will improve your mental health too.
Get your sleep
Don’t overlook the healing power of getting a good night’s sleep every night. It can become all too easy to scrimp on getting the sizes you need. Perhaps it’s watching that next episode on Netflix that’s causing you to stay up till 4 a.m. or a work deadline that has you burning the midnight oil. But your body needs time to rest and recover (how much you need varies from person to person but aiming for about eight hours a night is a good target) if you want to perform your best. Create a bedtime ritual to set yourself up for a night of sweet slumber; that might include sipping some chamomile tea, using an essential oil that promotes sleep, and playing some calming music.
Living in the moment can benefit not only your emotional well-being but also your physical health. If the idea of sitting quietly with your eyes closed and pausing to reflect on being in the here and now sounds impossible, consider starting by applying mindfulness to other areas of your life. When you’re eating put away your phone,
book, or laptop and focus on and savour each bite. Alternatively, you can even turn chores into a mindful exercise. If you’re weeding the garden, take note of the scents surrounding you, the sensation of the soil in your hands and the sun on your shoulders. And if these mindfulness approaches still aren’t working for you, try other relaxing, calming hobbies such as knitting or colouring. The act of concentrating and the repetition of such activities have been shown to ease anxiety and relieve stress.