Practicing Self-Care During a Pandemic
Whether you already have existing mental health issues or began experiencing them during the pandemic, it can be a frustrating, lonely, and even scary thing to deal with. Some individuals may feel anxious and depressed from the social isolation and extreme life changes. Others may be dealing with grief from the loss of a loved one. And some may be overwhelmed with trying to juggle life at home with kids and a spouse.
It’s a lot.
Things can begin to feel like too much; however, there are coping strategies that you can do to help them during this difficult time.
It’s all about self-care!
Did you know that the idea of self-care (along with the research surrounding it!) has been around for over 70 years?
There has been an impressive rise in the number of self-care publications over time. A search of PubMed conducted in June 2019 revealed that the first self-care publication was in 1946, with a peak in 2015 when 2457 articles were published on the topic. The term self-care was added to the Medical Subject Headings of the National Library of Medicine in 1981 and defined as caring for self when ill, or [engaging] positive actions and adopting behaviors to prevent illness (Science Direct).
Psych Central has a wonderful definition of what self-care IS and what it IS NOT.
What is self-care?
Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with oneself and others.
What self-care is not…
Knowing what self-care is not might be even more important. It is not something that we force ourselves to do, or something we don’t enjoy doing. As Agnes Wainman (in the article) explained, self-care is “something that refuels us, rather than takes from us.”
Self-care isn’t a selfish act either. It is not only about considering our needs; it is rather about knowing what we need to do in order to take care of ourselves, being subsequently, able to take care of others as well.
It’s time to reflect…
What does self-care mean to you?
Do your self-care methods actually restore your physical and emotional well-being?
It’s also time to start building your self-care toolbox!
Some self-care practices include:
- Using deep breathing, temperature change, and touch to regulate emotions
- Practicing mindfulness activities such as coloring, listening to nature sounds
- Going on nature walks, laying in my hammock, going on hikes
- Challenging negative self-talk with positive affirmations
- Snuggling with a pet or loved one, laying under my weighted blanket, reading
- Eating healthy and exercising
- Practicing just being—literally not doing anything and taking it all in
- Talking on the phone or Zooming with friends and family
- Giving yourself grace
It is important to remember that your experiences may not look like others’. Your feelings, emotions, and reactions may be completely different than another individual and that’s okay.
Be sure to find self-care strategies that work for you and start practicing them to help alleviate your stress during this unpredictable and difficult time.
Hang in there!
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