With World Mental Health Day coming up on October 10th, we wanted to bring you some self-care tips to help you get through this bizarre time that the world is going through right now.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is the general term for the things that we decide to do regularly which benefit our physical and mental health and wellbeing. These can be super basic everyday things such as making sure you brush your hair every day. They can also specifically be things to lower stress or increase happiness, such as setting aside time to read a book.
Why do we Need Self-Care?
Anxiety is a natural human response that occurs when we perceive that we are under threat. With the global pandemic affecting the world, it’s normal to feel constantly at risk. Everyone has been impacted by COVID-19 and more and more people know someone that has been directly affected. We are currently living through an unprecedented situation that has not been seen before in our lifetimes. This can lead to higher levels of anxiety and depression. By making sure that we do things to positively influence our mental and physical health, we can help lower our levels of anxiety and help keep ourselves (relatively) sane in these troubling times.
Sometimes it can be easy to get into a rut, especially if you’ve been self-isolating or even working from home. By starting with small things like brushing your hair and getting dressed into neat and tidy clothes each day, you’ll be able to build up to bigger, even more impactful things. And while these things might seem trivial, you could be surprised with how much of a difference they make to your overall well-being.
Get Good Quality Sleep
This may seem like something that isn’t really self-care, but getting enough sleep can have a big impact on a person’s mood. If you think about how you feel the day after you get a restless night’s sleep, you can probably figure out the issue with regularly getting too little sleep. Many studies have shown that people who are sleep deprived report increases in negative moods and decreases in positive moods. Practice good ‘sleep hygiene’ to make the most out of your sleep.
Water makes up two thirds of our body. It’s essential that everyone drinks enough fluid to keep their bodies healthy. Oftentimes, people can get dehydrated by not drinking enough fluid, and this can lead to complications such as headaches, constipation or dizziness and confusion. It’s recommended that you drink 8-12 cups of water a day, and that you drink them throughout the day rather than all at once. Staying hydrated can help increase your mood by preventing headaches and other nasty symptoms. If you struggle with drinking enough water, try adding fresh berries, lemon or mint to a water bottle to infuse the plain water with fresh and tasty flavors.
Get Some Fresh Air
The CDC states that travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19 and suggests that staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Having said that, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stay in your home 24/7 for the foreseeable future. Be sensible when you’re out and about - find a nice local walking route and get out into the great outdoors. Stay socially distanced and wear your mask where necessary but make time to explore your local area. The CDC recommends 2 hours and 30 minutes of weekly physical activity for adults, so a few brisk walks each week can be extremely beneficial!
Just because you can’t see people in person, doesn’t mean you can’t still hang out. With apps like Zoom or even Facetime, you can manage to get some virtual ‘face to face’ time with your friends and family. Don’t forget to check in on those relatives who may not have access to technology, such as grandparents or older family members - call them from time to time to check in and keep them from feeling lonely.
Though it may not be something that seems like self care, eating well can really make an impact on your mood. A diet that’s good for your physical health can also be good for your mental health. Foods that release energy slowly can also help keep your mood and energy levels stable throughout the day, so avoid things that can make your blood sugar rise and fall quickly, like candy, cookies, sugary drinks, and alcohol. Slow-release energy foods that you should be adding to your diet include pasta, rice, oats, wholegrain bread and cereals, nuts and seeds.
Schedule your Days
While working from home, you might be tempted to roll out of bed five minutes before you have to log on to your computer and begin your day. You might decide to take a few breaks here and there to get some housework done. You probably haven’t thought about changing out of sweats for months. This can have a negative impact on your mental health. If you try to plan out your days to mimic what they were like when you were in the office, you’re likely to be more efficient and have better days.
Whether you’re a pro at meditation or just want to spend a few minutes each day clearing your head of unwanted thoughts, mindfulness can really help. From simple breathing exercises that can help you strategically calm your body and mind to guided meditations on a variety of different apps, this can help reduce mental stress.
Keep on Top of the Chores
Making sure that your home stays clean and tidy can really have an impact on your mood. It might not feel like self care, and you might really not want to do it, but keeping on top of the housework can help make you feel less claustrophobic.
Learn a New Skill
Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn the violin but never had the time? Or perhaps you wanted to learn to code? Whatever skill you’re interested in, have a look online and see if you can find a course that you can enroll in. More and more institutions are offering online classes for a wide variety of skills.
Do nothing. Seriously. Sometimes you might just need to reset. Have a nap, a bath or just sit in a comfy chair with a mug of hot cocoa and relax. It may be hard to do when you know what’s happening outside in the world, but try to just sit calmly and not think about it.
It is important to carve out time every day to practice self care. Without it, we can begin to experience high levels of anxiety, low moods, and poor mental health can manifest as poor physical health. While we can’t become complacent about the situation in the world, we must make space in our minds to relax, otherwise we may find ourselves burning out. If you’re struggling with mental health, consider seeking help from your doctor, or looking online for telemedical assistance.