“Self-care means giving yourself permission to pause.”
~ Cecilia Tran
“By Taking care of myself I have so much more to offer the world than when I am running on empty.”
~ Ali Washington
The outbreak of the coronavirus may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety can make one feel overwhelmed and cause strong emotions in adults as well as children. Finding healthy ways to cope and care for yourself can make you and the people you care about stronger. Many people are uncertain about what the next day, week, or even month holds for them. This uncertainty is warranted and understandable. One can become consumed with the “what if’s” regarding the pandemic and what the lasting consequences means for them and their family.
Concerns such as “how do I cope during this time of uncertainty, fear, and stress?” are a resounding theme I have heard when working with clients. I often respond with, “what have you done to care for yourself during this time?”, “How have you shown yourself grace?”, and “How have you displayed gratitude?”. Life has a way of pressing the “pause” button in order to force us to take time and pour into self. If you think back prior to COVID-19, were you taking time to ensure you were recharging? Taking care of your mental, emotional, and spiritual self? Were family and friends getting the best version of you? Yes, this time is scary and difficult, but we cannot stop taking care of ourselves. The risk of doing so can leave us overcome with stress, anxiety, or even depression. During this time, we can discover or rediscover who we are, what we like, and where we want to be in this world. Only when we have a secure sense of self and purpose are we able to give of ourselves to others.
As we are required to stay at home to be safe, it is important to practice self-care to maintain mental and emotional health. Below you will find ways to practice self-care during this “time out”. Self-care is not only for you, but also for those around you during these difficult and uncertain times.
- Contact a mental health counselor – It is important to recognize that you are not alone during this time. During this pandemic, many mental health professionals are providing telehealth services to ensure individuals are able to have their mental and emotional needs met. Taking the time to talk to someone to help you process your thoughts and feelings can help to develop coping skills to manage stress and/or anxiety.
- Practice mindfulness techniques- Carve out 15-20 minutes most of the days of the week to practice mindfulness/meditation. For example, there are free guided meditations from Deepak Chopra and Oprah, Dr. Tara Brach or other meditators on InsightTimer app.
- Get plenty of rest – Do you remember when you said, “I wish I could just sleep in!”? Well, here is the time to take full advantage of waking up late or going to bed early. Some of us might even have the opportunity to take a nap. Use this time to sleep when you are tired to re energize your body and mind.
- Give yourself positive affirmations daily – You are doing your best! It’s okay to acknowledge it! These are difficult times, and everyone is trying to figure out a new normal. Show yourself compassion on the days you feel inadequate or unproductive. Saying to yourself, “I am in control of my feelings”, “I am grateful for what I have”, or “I am doing my best”. These types of words of encouragement increases emotional well-being and decreases the intensity of frequency negative stress.
- Connect with friends and family – While we are required to practice social distancing it does not mean we have to completely disconnect from those we love. Take this time to use family and friends as a support system. Continue to keep the lines of communication open with one another using the different platforms offered such as Zoom, Google Hangout, or the Houseparty app.
- Discover new ways to entertain – Are you home with the kids? How can you keep them entertained and distracted? Incorporate new family activities! This could include a family scavenger hunt, painting art pieces, family musical chairs, or creating family home videos. Are you home alone? What new hobby can you pick up? This could include creating a new dish in the kitchen, writing a blog or chapter in a book, learning a new art skill.
Patience Ruffin, EdD, LPC-MHSP, NCC