Self-care is always important, but with the current COVID-19 pandemic, and the overwhelming change and uncertainty it continues to bring, self-care has taken on new meaning.
As we move into a new season, we’re going to start spending more time indoors again, and even more of our connections will take place by phone and computer screen.
When the pandemic first started, I was stress eating, losing sleep, and exercise while anxiously maintaining balance while working from home. I’m slowly but surely getting out of that rut because there are healthier ways to cope as we adjust to our “new normal.”
So, I thought I’d put together a list of self-care ideas that we all can implement at home. After all, we need to deliberately make an effort to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.
**Self-care is a simple concept, in theory, but it’s something we all often overlook. Proper self-care is key to improving your mood and reducing anxiety. I also think self-care is crucial to having the best relationship with yourself and others.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SELF CARE DURING THIS CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
One challenge of switching to working from home is continuing to practice self-care while managing everything that requires our attention. I’ve been used to having my personal life separate from my work. So, making adjustments to balance my work and personal life was crucial to recharge and start the next day refreshed.
According to an Indeed study, over 50% of respondents said they would describe their feelings towards COVID-19 as “concerned,” “cautious,” and “worried.” Those feelings, paired with a significant change in your work routine, can lead to burnout and decreased motivation.
SELF-CARE IDEAS TO TRY AT HOME
1. GET BETTER SLEEP
Getting enough sleep helps reduce stress, preventing depression, and, most importantly, maintaining a healthy immune system. Fall short, and it can take a severe toll on your energy, productivity, emotional balance, and weight.
When I have trouble falling asleep, I like to:
- Limit my screen time before bed. According to the Sleep Foundation, those who spend a lot of time in front of a screen tend to go to bed later, take longer to fall asleep, and sleep fewer hours than those with less exposure.
- Take part in a relaxing bedtime ritual to prep my mind for sleep. I enjoy taking a warm bath/shower, dimming the lights, and listening to soft music or an audiobook podcast. I love to light a few candles too.
- Reserve my bed for only rest and sex. When I first started working from home in March, I did so in my bedroom (literally, the bed’s edge was my office chair). AND I almost lost my mind! By not working on my bed or in my bedroom, my brain better associates my bedroom with relaxation, making it easier to wind down at night.
SPEAKING OF BATHS…
2. TAKE A RELAXING BATH
I’ve loved baths since I was a teenager! I like them with bubbles, salts, milky powders, tea leaves, rose petals…you name it. I am very inclusive.
A long, hot bath easily tops my list of most relaxing things to do. It pairs well with candles, a book, and a glass of wine or a cup of mint tea. I often have an R&B playlist humming in the background too.
I mean, bath time is the ultimate “me-time.” Baths are a great way to escape, daydream, and wash the day away. And I usually sleep like a baby afterward.
3. GIVE YOURSELF A FACIAL
Now, I know most people are running to make appointments with their esthetician since facials are allowed now. But, a weekly at-home facial never hurt. One of the easiest ways to relax, I’d argue, has been by bringing a facial experience into my NYC apartment.
4. BUILD BETTER EATING HABITS
Good nutrition is another cornerstone of self-care. Without the nutrients your body needs, your metabolism suffers, affecting your mood, energy, hormones, and countless other functions.
I have a love for sweets, but that has been my worst enemy during this pandemic. I have gained 15lbs by not walking around the city like a typical New Yorker and emotionally indulging in food and drinks.
I’m resetting my body by incorporating healthier eating habits and moving more daily. I’m cutting down on sugar and refined carbs, which make me lethargic in high doses. And I’m eating more vegetables and healthy proteins and fats. Eating this way and drinking more water helps with my sleep, my energy, and my joints.
I’ll keep you all posted on my journey as I lose my “COVID 15”.
5. GET MOVING
It’s no secret that physical activity helps to improve your mood, energy, and sleep. But, since I’m not ready to go back into a gym any time soon, I’ve been trying to figure out other ways to work out consistently.
I haven’t really enjoyed working out in my home due to room constraints, but I have to suck it up, given the circumstances. I am committing to a few strength training classes at JTW FIT, biking and a yoga/stretching class. I’m also starting to run again because that’s always been an effective way to maintain my weight. Running also releases endorphins that give you a lovely, natural high. Talk about a mood enhancer!
6. GET ORGANIZED
We may not be able to control what’s going on in the world, but we can control our clutter. When the pandemic first began, I was heavily into re-organizing. But, as time has passed, so has my motivation to do another spring clean.
I know too well how a disorganized space can make you feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and distracted.
So, now that the seasons are changing, it’s a perfect time to pull out the sweaters and put away the swimwear to create a more comfortable and safe living environment. And let’s update our Fall Skincare Routine while we’re at it.
7. CREATE/UPDATE YOUR SKINCARE ROUTINE
Beauty brands have been launching left and right since the idea of skincare as self-care correlates heavily to buying their products.
My take? It’s more about skin health! While I’m all about a daily skincare routine, the benefits are way more than skin deep. So, as you update your skincare routine, think less discomfort and irritation, and more protection, hydration, and nourishment. My blog post on How To Build A Skincare Routine can help you get started! You can also check out my Summer Skincare Routine and Winter Skincare Routine for guidance.
8. GET A PET
As many animal lovers know, having a pet is one of the very best forms of self-care. Natalie has been such a great source of emotional support during COVID. And to think, I didn’t even like dogs before her!
Natalie provides companionship, cozy snuggles, emotional support, and unconditional love! And apparently, there’s no better time to become a foster or adoptive parent to a pet than now. During COVID-19, countless animals have received homes.
If you’re looking to add a furry friend to your family, check out your local shelter or Humane Society.
9. NURTURE YOUR SUPPORT NETWORK
It’s human to experience feelings of loneliness, sadness, and uncertainty, so giving and getting support is crucial. Even if you can’t see friends and family in person, you can make plans to stay in touch regularly by phone, text, email, or video chat. I talked about this in April when I discussed how I’m passing the time while social distancing and self-isolating.
Community service and offering a helping hand to others can also adjust your perspective. Consider picking up groceries or prescriptions for your elderly neighbors, like my girl @samnicolewhite, or provide babysitting services to health care workers and teachers. There are also more prominent organizations that have more formal volunteer opportunities.
If you’re like most people, your day begins and ends with you looking at your phone. But, what if you dedicated that time to take a moment and just enjoy being with yourself instead?
Meditation doesn’t need to take long, but it can powerfully shift your mindset. Meditation allows for self-discovery and improves our happiness and satisfaction because we become more in-tune with ourselves and what we desire.
Meditation also helps you appreciate all the good things in your life instead of dwelling on the negative.
10. PLAN A GETAWAY
Given the circumstances, most people want to escape their daily routines and enjoy some of the simple indulgences associated with getting away. Rather than elaborate, long-planned vacations, many of us are enjoying spontaneous, shorter driving trips where we can relax and unwind, and participate in outdoor activities that are safe if reasonable precautions are taken.
Research has shown that one of the happiest parts of taking a vacation is planning and anticipating it. So, seek out a hotel or Airbnb within driving distance. Make sure the location has a pool, rooftop, and outdoor space and take off from work. Taking time off for a staycation (even if you aren’t physically going anywhere) can be just as beneficial to your health as a traditional one.
11. LAUGH LIKE NO ONE’S WATCHING
There’s nothing funny about a global pandemic, but laughter is an excellent coping mechanism. Laughing is healthy for you since it releases tension, reduces stress hormones, lowers blood pressure, and even boosts the immune system. So, put on a comedy or giggle with a few friends.
How are you practicing self-care right now?