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COVID-19 Stress: 5 Simple Self-Care Practices to Build Resilience

It’s been more than three weeks since our normal daily routine was affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) global crisis. We were caught unsurprised by how it will impact every one of us and it’s still uncertain how long this will last and how big its damage will be.

How are you coping? How are you navigating the sudden uncertainties? How are you maximizing your time during this quarantine period? How are you connecting with your loved ones? I hope you have positive responses to the questions. If not, it’s okay. It’s normal. At least you have an awareness of it. How do you plan to adjust and move on along with this crisis?

According to Psych Central, self-care is defined as any activity that we do deliberately to take care of your mental health, emotional, and physical health. Yes, we want to ensure that the ones closest to us are cared for, but it’s also important to not forget about caring for yourself, most especially during a crisis. Pay attention to your needs and feelings.

“Take care of yourself, so you can take care of others.”

1. Be (or stay) healthy.

Now is the best time to be (or stay) healthy, definitely. Our health is one of our strongest defenses from the virus, apart from practicing the standard safety precautions of proper handwashing, social distancing, wearing facial masks, etc. Since we are free of some normal day-to-day activities, we can allot the extra time to things we wish we had time for before.

Try:

  • Nourishing yourself with healthy meals like whole foods and vegetables. Currently, supplies are limited, but if you look hard enough, you can still find online suppliers that can support your intentions of being conscious of what you put in your body.
  • Prepping and cooking your favorite meals.
  • Working out indoors or adjusting your home environment to help you move throughout the day, placing things far away from each other, or setting up standing desks, etc; Doing any physical movements you most enjoy or perhaps challenging yourself with new workouts through phone apps. We especially need the happy hormones from movement to boost our mood, and reduce our stress and anxiety.
  • Getting enough sleep. You can try not setting the alarm, allowing your body get its needed rest. Also, try to reduce your screen time at night, allowing your body to truly rest while you sleep.
  • Being the role model to everyone whom you’re living with. Everyone’s health is important too.

2. Connect and reconnect purposefully.

Humans thrive and survive on interaction. Yes, including us, introverts. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we don’t want to interact with people, but we are selective of whom we interact with. Depriving yourself of social connections doesn’t feel good long-term. So, stay connected with your loved ones. It would be your happy pill for your mental health.

Try:

  • Scheduling a regular face time call with your family, friends or partner every week or daily if you want to. Allot time to talk to them to nourish your relationships.
  • Talking your heart out to people you trust. Share your worries, anxiety and fear with them. They might be feeling the same, and you might find relief in someone who listens to your inner thoughts and feelings.
  • Enjoying each one’s company at home. This might be the longest period when family members or friends are all staying at home at the same time. Use this time in doing group activities, sharing stories and laughs, and updating each other on experiences. The normal days may be too busy for all of you to do things together.

However, connecting also means staying informed with current events through news and social media. A few new updates a day are enough to gather information and be in solidarity with our communities. Set limits on time spent consuming content. Too much information can fuel anxiety.

3. Establish a new daily mindful routine.    

Creating your new normal routine can provide stability and security. Base it on new work and personal goals which are adapted to the current situation. It might take days or weeks before you get the hang of working or staying at home, and it’s alright as long as you’re mindful of it. Find your own balance of productive and relaxation times.

Try:

  • Setting your new normal schedule sans preparing and commuting to and from work.
  • Experimenting on schedules to know which works best for you. You might be comfortable working for a straight 8 hours or you prefer more non-work sessions in between.
  • Including separate times for working out, cooking food, reading a book, playing with kids, watching TV, browsing social media. Schedule them in a way to avoid multitasking. Focus on one activity at a time. It lessens the stress of thinking and doing so many things at a given time.
  • Creating a conscious morning ritual. 

4. Recognize and reframe your stress.

Hearing constant bad news about COVID-19 cases in our country and around the world can take a toll on our mental health. These can be triggers for breakdown and anxiety, especially with stories of the people who have or suffer because of it. It’s really heartbreaking sometimes. If it does stress you out, it’s important that you recognize it. Be aware of it. And then manage it.

“Manage what you can; release what you cannot.”

Try:

  • Expressing it through your preferred media: words, art, music or any of your preferred forms of expression.
  • Meditating.
  • Practicing gratitude. Ask/remind yourself what you are most grateful for.
  • Focusing on what you can learn or develop at this time.
  • Focusing on how you can contribute positively to the situation.

5. Give back.

If you’re in a position of abundance in any way, consider donating or giving back to those who need help. It’s not only you who’s struggling. There are others who are affected, perhaps far worse.  

Helping others is good for your mental and emotional health. It makes you feel better knowing that you’ve contributed in any way to causes that are important to you. It may be providing PPEs (personal protective equipment) or food to the medical front liners, feeding the urban poor, helping out the farmers or small businesses, uplifting the patients through cards, sharing your professional services for a cause, and many other ways to help out. This is a global situation which calls for the togetherness of its citizens.

If you need more ideas on how to help, check out the list of current initiatives in Help from Home,  an information hub that helps folks at home support those who aren’t: The frontliners and families at risk in the Philippines.

Let’s invite and practice more compassion by taking care of yourself, and your community and your neighbors.

Do you have other ideas of how to take care of yourself, others and your community in our current reality? Share your comments/insights with us. Let’s discuss.


Sources:

Roni Matalog

Roni is a Registered Nutritionist-Dietitian. She completed her certification in Plant-Based Nutrition from eCornell University and T.Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies. Her interest in plant-based nutrition, holistic wellness and sustainable living only intensified in recent years, but she has long been passionate about helping individuals make positive and sustainable changes to their health, to be able to live and enjoy a better quality of life while being mindful of the environment and all beings. She founded Plants & Purpose where she offers her services and shares things about plant-based nutrition.

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