Why Self Care Matters More Than Ever
Over the past few weeks, the world has found itself in uncharted water. Current events have led to chaos all over the globe, with governments everywhere telling their citizens to stay at home and save lives. Daily life as we know it has fallen by the wayside. Many people are now faced with the prospect of spending weeks or even months inside their homes with none of the usual activities that they usually rely on to help them cope with the everyday challenges. Without the classic routine of going to work, the gym, regular classes, and to visit family and friends, even those without pre-existing mental health issues are finding it hard to get by. This is why self care matters more than ever in this time of lockdown.
Current Events’ Impact On Mental Health
Around 25% of the population suffer from fragile mental health at the best of times, so in the current situation, it’s all-too-easy to see why the nation’s well-being is at risk of becoming a crisis in its own right. For those who live alone, the prospect of spending an indefinite amount of time behind closed doors without any company or physical support can seem unbearable. Meanwhile, for those cooped up inside with housemates, friends, or family members, there is a raft of other potential issues. Spending 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in close quarters will inevitably cause tensions to rise and arguments to break out, even in the strongest and most stable relationships. Humans may be social creatures, but they also need their own space, and without it, and without any other distractions to focus us, it’s no wonder that more relationships are breaking down, more arguments are taking place behind the world’s closed doors, and more calls are being made every day to domestic violence helplines.
For those already suffering from mental health problems, recent health and economic concerns are only adding to the issues they face. Worries about their own health, as well as that of their friends and loved ones can become overwhelming, while the media coverage of the death toll and suffering around the world will naturally cause deep concerns and fears. When traditional coping mechanisms such as seeing a counselor, attending support groups, and having a regular routine of work, outdoor exercise, and social activity are taken away, it isn’t too hard to see why self care is so important to get through this crisis without suffering from a complete breakdown.
So, how can you care for yourself in these troubled times? Here are a few self care ideas to help you to cope more effectively with the challenges that we’re all facing at the moment.
Although we can’t physically be with our friends and loved ones, we can still stay connected thanks to technology. Just talking to family members on a regular basis is an important aspect of self care, helping to bring us closer together even when we are unable to enjoy physical contact. Humans are social animals, so checking in electronically with others in our social circle is a valuable source of comfort. Simply giving a friend a call, messaging a loved one, or video calling family members is something that we can all do to help us to manage self-isolation more effectively.
An important coping mechanism that most of us use to get by in normal circumstances it establishing a routine that we can follow to give us structure and rhythm in our lives. With none of the usual activities that we rely on to keep those routines in place, it can be very difficult to keep any kind of structure in daily living.
Lockdown makes it very easy to lose all track of time. Sleeping too much, eating at irregular intervals, staying up into the early hours and then getting up late are all dangers of this way of living. When carried out for extended periods, this can lead to more mental health issues. Poor quality sleep, paired with fluctuating blood sugars due to irregular eating patterns can all lead to worsening mental health.
Although it’s hard, it’s important to set up a new routine for lockdown. Get up at the same time every day. Plan some activities to give each day rhythm and structure. Eat at regular times and go to bed at a set hour so that you can stay on an even keel.
Spending all day at home behind locked doors can lead to us dwelling on the negative. Surrounded by bad news on social media and on TV, it isn’t too surprising that those of us with mental health issues can find it difficult to stay positive.
Finding distractions is an important aspect of self care at the moment. Reading a good book, listening to calming music, or finding a boxset that you’ve always wanted to watch is a good way of staying occupied while minimizing exposure to virus news while indoors.
If you’re finding it hard to cope with all of the depressing tales in the news and on Facebook and other social media platforms, be kind to yourself and take a break. While keeping up with the latest happenings is advisable, you don’t need to be glued to a screen 24/7. Check the news once per day, and try limiting the number of times you log into your social media accounts. Taking time away from your devices is important for your mental well-being.
Although some areas have restricted outdoor exercise, many people are still permitted to go outside to take a short walk, jog or bike ride. If you have an outdoor space that you can make use of, this is even better. Spending time in nature is important for mental well-being, so if you’re able to get outside, even for a short while, it can help you to clear your head, stretch your legs, and give yourself a mental break. If you can add some exercise into your outdoor time that would be even better since exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good and more upbeat.
Be Kind To Yourself
Self care is all about being kind to yourself. Too often, we’re kinder to others than we would ever be to ourselves. We say things to ourselves that we would never dream of saying to other people, and treat ourselves in ways that we would never treat others. So now, more than ever before, it’s important to demonstrate compassion, kindness and gratitude to yourself.
Don’t be afraid to reward yourself for small victories. Did you manage to go to bed and wake up at your designated times? Why not reward yourself with a hot bubble bath? Did you clean the kitchen like you promised you would? Why not paint your nails or watch a movie that you’ve always wanted to see? Although it may not seem much, showing yourself these small acts of kindness can make a big difference to your mental health as it helps to remind you that you’re valuable and you’re worth caring for.
Take time to think about some of the things that are most important to you in your life and develop a stronger sense of gratitude for them all. This is a great opportunity to tell your loved ones that they mean so much to you. It’s also a great time to begin a gratitude journal. Simply by finding a few things each day to be happy and thankful for can turn a negative mindset into a positive one.
You may find it helpful to introduce mindfulness practice into your self care routines. Stress is known to exacerbate many different physical conditions as well as mental health ones, and mindfulness has been shown to be very helpful in reducing stress and anxiety and helping you to stay grounded in the moment. Since lockdown is a very stressful experience, finding ways to combat it is very important for your physical and mental well-being.
You can introduce mindfulness into your everyday routine quite easily by starting breathing practices. This begins with just noticing your breath. Focusing on the simple act of breathing is very calming and can help you to focus in on yourself. You can also use grounding tools to help you to stay in the moment. Simply notice what you smell, hear, see and feel at any given moment. It’s a simple technique but it can help you to resist catastrophizing and can help to reduce the feelings of helplessness that you are experiencing in self-isolation.
Self care means caring not only for your mental well-being but for your physical body too. Eating healthily will help you to stay in good overall health and will help boost your immunity so you can be sure of optimal protection from disease and the virus itself. Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables will ensure you get the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that you need to stay in good shape, while getting plenty of exercise is also important. Not only will it help you to stay strong and healthy, it will also release feel-good chemicals in your brain that boost your positivity and mental well-being. If you can’t go outdoors, you could try an indoor exercise routine. There are lots of free videos on YouTube that will take you through a wide variety of workouts from yoga and pilates to HIIT or dance classes.
Clear The Clutter
Physical clutter only serves to clutter up your mind too, so take this opportunity to go through your home getting rid of the mess and accumulated odds and ends. Clearing away anything you no longer want or need and physically tidying up will help to clear your mind. Not only that, but vigorous cleaning tasks will help to keep you moving and will help you to stay physically active, distracted from your worries, and releasing endorphins.
Making Time For You
If you’re sharing your home with others, whether those people be family, friends or housemates, you’ll need to make sure your self care plan involves taking some time for yourself. Everyone needs their own space from time to time to recharge their batteries, unwind and calm down from the frustrations and anger that will inevitably arise from time to time due to living so closely with others. If you have your own room or private space, this is the perfect retreat, but even if you don’t have a separate area to call your own, you can still get some me-time in a shared space as long as everyone in the property understands the boundaries. Ensure everyone has their own chill-out zone where they can go if they want to be left alone. This could even be a corner of the living room as long as the rules remain in place to leave you alone while you’re in that spot. Even knowing you have a place to go to when it all becomes too much can be enough to give you a positive mental boost and the strength to carry on with your day.
Reconnect With What You Love
In the busy world that we live in, we’re always rushing around, and often struggle to take the time to enjoy the activities and pastimes that we love. Try to use this enforced isolation to reconnect with some of those hobbies once more. Think proactively of how you can spend this time at home. Perhaps you’ve always loved knitting or needlepoint but struggled to find sufficient hours in the day to embark on a project. Or maybe there’s something you’ve always wanted to try but never got around to because of the pressures of daily life. This is the perfect chance to learn a new skill or practice an art. Self care means enjoying yourself, so seize the opportunity that presents itself to indulge in something you wouldn’t normally do.
Although self care can be difficult at the best of times, and especially during this crisis, it’s more important than ever before to look after yourself, and your physical and mental well-being, so that you can face the challenges that lie ahead and emerge on the other side stronger and happier.
If your work on self-care doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere, get in touch with The Meadowglade! Our trained staff is ready and willing to help you manage your stress responsibly and teach you how to balance self-care with self awareness!