Life sure does look different right now, doesn’t it?
You’re obsessively washing your hands, practicing social distancing, and probably watching too much news.
While you completely understand the need for the self-quarantine, it can be a challenge for even the sturdiest among us.
But, as always, there are blessings that come from adversity.
This time spent at home gives us a unique opportunity to consider what matters the most and to assess how we have been living our lives.
As you take a look at these things, ask yourself…
Are the two aligned?
Every situation has a silver lining, and in this time of crisis, I believe it is the opportunity look within and hone in on our deepest desires, and then determine how to put them into play.
Could we be in the middle of a global self-correction that is guiding us to live with intention and focus on core values?
Much like after 9/11, this pandemic has brought the world together; it has served to highlight our oneness.
I believe that this is a time for each of us to dig deep, find the leader within, and carry on with grit and grace.
As a psychologist, my advice to you is this…
Self-care is essential now. It’s not an option for those who wish to remain strong.
Here are nine self-care strategies that will make a difference for you. I encourage you to put these ideas into daily practice.
Doing so will not only decrease your stress and anxiety levels, but it will improve your mental fitness, and strengthen your immune system.
You cannot overdo belly breathing. It is the antidote to anxiety, and when practiced intentionally and regularly it will become more automatic and internalized. You cannot be anxious and belly breathe at the same time. If you are feeling anxious, consider that a reminder that it is time to stop what you are doing, take 2 minutes and focus on belly breathing.
There are so many free yoga, pilates, workout classes online. You don’t have to commit to one practice; take this opportunity to mix it up and try something new and different. No matter what you do, walking is essential. Unless you’re restricted for some reason, get out and walk in the fresh air in uncrowded spaces every day. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul. It also will strengthen your immune system
Social distancing does NOT mean social isolation. We need to connect with each other now more than ever. We are stressed by all of the unknowns we are facing. Will I, or someone I love, be diagnosed with this virus? How will my job be affected? How long will this last? It’s easy to feel isolated and alone, but we are all in this together.
Coming together by phone, texting, zoom, video chatting, on a walk with proper spacing are some of the ways we can connect. This is not the time to be a lone wolf or go at it alone! Social isolation is associated with poor mental health, and conversely, social connection is associated with a strong immune system.
This is a wonderful time to catch up on sleep [unless of course, you’re on the front lines of the health care system—which is simply put a disaster at the moment]. Even within the medical system, everyone is best served when every team member has the time for self-care and proper resources. If you have the opportunity to take a nap, or even just a meditation break, please do so. There is no better way to build up your immunity.
Limit the news to once a day.
Every day Coronavirus and the impact it is having on the global economy is dominating the news cycle and while it is important to stay informed, too much news is contributing to heightened anxiety.
Especially for those in at-risk groups, being vigilant about every update in the news can be traumatic. This constant exposure is not good for the mind, body or your, general well-being. Better to stay focused on work, projects, decluttering, reading books, articles, blogs, etc.
Keep your daily routines.
By sticking to your regular routines (with a certain amount of creative interpretation) you’ll create a feeling of normalcy and predictability which we need and crave now.
Be kind to everyone you connect with on the phone or through any medium. This pandemic is the ultimate reminder that we are all in this together and in fact, we are all one. Challenge yourself to show kindness and compassion for everyone—especially when it’s difficult to do so. Loving-kindness for others will help elevate your self-esteem and self-compassion and will alleviate your own fear and anxiety.
Keep a journal.
I’ve always advised my patients to keep a journal. Journaling is one of the best ways to sort out ideas, reflections, and feelings. You can track the progression of where you’ve been and how you’re doing. Most importantly, keeping a journal helps you to go inside without having to filter or explain—you can truly give yourself that sacred space.
Practice being grateful. Before bed, write or list 3-5 sweet memories from the day—big or small. Say ‘thank you’ from your heart often.
And know that no matter challenging your situation may be at this very moment there are so many others for whom it is worse. Many among us are suffering and we need to step up and help when we can and simultaneously be grateful for every bit of sweetness that we can find in our lives.
This is a time when grit, grace and, connection are required.
You have the opportunity to honor yourself and others by stepping into leadership mode and your own self-care a priority.
Together, we will triumph.