Living in the time of a global pandemic can leave you feeling out of control and self-care can slip to the bottom of the priority list when you have to worry about working remotely, staying healthy, and keeping your kids entertained. But taking the time to practice self-care isn’t a luxury; it’s essential. And during this difficult time, when children are home and stress is running high, it’s more important than ever. Here are our top five ways to practice self-care, both during this time and on a normal basis.
Make healthy choices
It can be easy to slip into habits that feel good, such as binging Netflix shows or eating mass amounts of comfort food. But this can be detrimental in the long-term, both to your physical and mental health. Make sure you’re eating well-balanced and nutrient-rich meals to help you feel more energized and stay out of any post-meal slumps. This doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself to some ice cream or mac and cheese, just be mindful of what you put into your body and how it may affect your mood and energy levels throughout the day.
Get regular exercise even though gyms are closed through at-home workouts or just taking a walk outside. Exercise has been proven to release endorphins and help combat stress and anxiety. The YMCA has a variety of online workout classes so you can stay in shape and keep that heart rate up!
Make sure you’re also getting the right amount of sleep. It can be tempting to sleep in later or take naps when you’re just staying at home all day, but too much sleep can cause you to feel even more tired than you would normally feel. Of course, too little sleep will also affect your mood and energy levels. Try to put away all electronics at least 30 minutes before you go to bed to make falling asleep and staying asleep easier. Strive for the ideal 8-9 hours of sleep each night.
Mindfulness can be defined as present moment awareness and is especially important to practice during stressful times as a form of self-care. When you take the time to be mindful of your surroundings, it can help clear your mind, slow your heart rate down and reset your perspective. You can practice mindfulness in a variety of different ways, including:
- Breathing exercises to focus on controlling your breath and awareness
- Meditation, which can be practiced in many different ways
- Taking a bath to relax your muscles and ease tensions
- Practicing yoga and focusing on your body’s alignment and strength
- Journaling your thoughts and feelings
Try a new hobby
Do you have any things that you’ve been wanting to try and learn, but you’ve never had the time? Use the time you’re spending inside to learn a new hobby and have fun! Whether you’ve always wanted to learn to knit, try some new recipes, or teach yourself a new skill, there are plenty of online resources to help you out. You can also just embrace hobbies that you’ve had before but just never had the time to dedicate to doing them. Break out those puzzles that you never got around to finishing or paint a picture that genuinely makes you happy.
If you’re working remotely, it can be hard to distinguish between times you should be doing work and times you should be relaxing. Set hard boundaries for yourself. If you have space, put your office set-up in a different area of your house than where you normally relax. This means try not to use your bed or couch as a desk space, even if you are just working from a laptop. Treat your workday like you would if you were going to an office; start at a consistent time, take a lunch break, and end at a consistent time. Don’t spend the evenings replying to emails or other work projects, but on the flip side, make sure you’re not spending your workday doing tasks around the house such as laundry or dishes.
Give yourself a break
There’s a lot of pressure right now to use this time to better yourself and come out of quarantine stronger and better. That’s great if that’s the mindset you choose to have during this time, but it’s perfectly okay to not be doing that. Living during a pandemic is a stressful time and if all you do is get out of bed and practice a little bit of self-care, that’s also great.
Give yourself a break from social media and the constant pressures that you may feel from others posting about the new projects they’re working on during this time. Remind yourself to also take a break from watching the news or looking up the latest updates and just let your mind think about something else for a short time.
Remember, this time is temporary and we’re distancing for the health of ourselves and everyone around us. The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati is here for you, even if our doors aren’t currently open. Stay connected through our Facebook page, where we have live workouts, Spirit Moments, and family fun activities.