Infuse your social distancing with a dose of self-care.
Self-care today looks a lot different than we’re used to. It’s no longer as easy as spending a weekend out with friends or stopping by your favorite local hangout. It’s more about finding a new normal in a situation that is anything but.
As we all work to navigate the changes and challenges brought by COVID-19, focusing on your well-being is more important than ever. That includes your mental health. Even those who aren’t prone to anxiety or depression may find themselves struggling in ways they didn’t expect. That’s why, as we focus on getting to the other side of these uncertain times, we wanted to bring you different ways to mitigate stress and prioritize self-care as we do our part to flatten the curve:
1. Unplug before you burn out
Did you know there’s such a thing as bad-news burnout? According to distinguished psychology professor and “compassion fatigue” expert Charles Figley, a constant stream of bad news is pretty toxic for our mental health. He recommends asking, “Can I do anything about this now? Is this additional information going to be useful to me?” If the answer is no, turn off the news and consider taking a walk outside or diving into a book instead.
2. Activate your endorphins
For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate activity (or 75 minutes of vigorous activity) a week, along with muscle-strengthening exercises at least twice a week. Fortunately, there are heaps of options to help you stay active from home. For a zen workout, check out Yoga with Adriene, a popular YouTube channel with yoga classes ranging from five minutes to an hour. There’s also Nike Training Club, a free workout app endorsed by sports scientists. Another option? Johnson & Johnson’s J&J Official 7 Minute Workout app, designed to provide the maximum health benefit in the shortest amount of time.
3. Eat an apple a day
Well, not really. But the old phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” is a good reminder to maintain a healthy diet. That’s because nutritious food doesn’t just benefit your body, but your mind, too. According to Harvard Medical School, studies show that healthy diets can help lower the risk of depression by 35%. To stock up on fresh fruits and veggies while social distancing, consider services like Instacart or different grocery stores’ delivery systems. And of course, balance is key. If your sweet tooth is acting up, it’s perfectly fine to eat the cookie you’ve been eyeing. After all, feeding the soul is important as well.
4. Foster a furry friend
Stave off loneliness while saving a life by fostering a pet from a local animal shelter. With the cancellation of adoption events around the country, countless shelters are relying on fosters even more to help care for their animals. And it’s a win/win. A homeless animal gets to be part of a family and you get to reap the health benefits of having a pet, which can include lower blood pressure and stress levels (pets can even promote healthy childhood development). Another perk is that it’s temporary, so you won’t feel pressured to make a permanent decision during a stressful situation.
5. Reassess your to-do list
If you’ve felt pushed to be extra productive lately, you’re not the only one. But let’s be realistic. We’re all trying to get through a global pandemic, and you shouldn’t feel pressured to create the next Instagram, Uber or WhatsApp (all of which were founded during the 2008 recession). However, you can use this time to cross off tasks you normally don’t have the chance to tackle. Consider writing a to-do list of everything you’d like to get done at home and work to complete one task each day.
6. Subscribe to self-care
Indulge in retail therapy and practice self-care with the help of a monthly subscription box. There’s TheraBox for $35 a month, which includes wellness goodies and “research-inspired therapeutic activities to wire your brain for more joy.” For a blissful, at-home spa experience, consider the Sweet Escape box for $36 a month. And to satiate your taste buds’ wanderlust, check out boxes like Try The World and Universal Yums, which bring international snacks right to your doorstep for $40 or less.
No matter how you choose to use this time, try to take heart in knowing the loss of normalcy we’re all experiencing is temporary. We will get through this, and we’ll emerge stronger and wiser for it. Till then, make sure to take care of yourself.
Sources: npr.org; au.reachout.com; businessinsider.com; health.gov; health.harvard.edu; mytherabox.com; cratejoy.com; foxbusiness.com; today.com