Written by Michelle Ritchie
It's always important to take time for yourself and to practice self-care. Now, during these uncertain and difficult times, it's more important than ever.
Increased uncertainty and the loss of our regular daily routines can lead to elevated anxiety and stress. Acts of self-care can help reduce this stress and increase joy, which not only helps improve our mental well-being, but also our physical health and immune system. With this in mind, we’re sharing our top tips for taking better care of yourself now and always.
Create a New Routine
Our normal daily lives and routines have changed dramatically and we no longer have the same structure, predictability, and sense of purpose. Creating new routines can provide an anchor to help us better manage the uncertainty and stress and make our lives feel more controllable and predictable. Follow these 9 tips on how to make new habits stick.
Connect with Loved Ones
It's important to connect with people you love as isolation can lead to anxiety and sadness. While you may not be able to physically get together with your friends and family, find other creative ways to connect. Use Facetime to see and talk to loved ones. Set up virtual social gatherings via Zoom, Google Hangouts, or Netflix Party (a Chrome plugin that allows you to watch movies and shows with your friends). Use the app House Party to video chat with multiple friends and play games together. See these great ideas on staying close with family and friends!
Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep is essential to maintaining optimal health and well-being. Sleep helps the body repair, regenerate, and recover. It also helps strengthen your immune defenses, reduce stress, improve concentration and productivity, and lower inflammation. Follow these sleep tips to help create your own healthy sleep habits.
We all know that healthy food improves our overall health, but did you know it also elevates your mood, improves sleep, and gives you more energy? Planning ahead and cooking meals at home is one of the best ways to make sure you eat well. For ideas, check out our tasty recipes. Another tip: make sure to stock your fridge and pantry with healthy snacks and remove tempting (less healthy) options.
Connect with Nature
Studies show that regular exposure to nature can increase resilience against stress and adversity, enhance happiness and well-being, and improve self-esteem, concentration, creativity, cognitive development, and self-awareness. So, go on nature walks and hikes, sit on the beach, gaze at the mountains, and enjoy the sun on your face! Learn what happens when we connect to nature.
The scientific evidence is overwhelmingly clear—physical activity helps improve your overall health, can reduce the risk of various chronic diseases, and can make you feel better, function better, and sleep better. So, don’t wait to get started! While your local gym may be closed, there are plenty of other ways to get exercise. Take your dog for a walk, go for a run or a bike ride in the park. Can’t get outside? Find an online exercise class or create an at-home calisthenics routine. Start small and build exercise into your daily routine so you’re more likely to do it.
Play with Your Pet
Studies have shown that pets, especially dogs and cats, can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness, and even improve your cardiovascular health. Pets are a great source of comfort, love, and joy. Don’t have a pet, but still want to ogle at cute animals? Here’s a couple of cute videos for dog and cat lovers!
Keep a Gratitude Journal
There is a strong connection between practicing gratitude and mental health and well-being. In fact, studies have shown that gratitude increases happiness, enhances relationships, reduces stress, improves sleep, increases mental strength, improves self-esteem, and more. All fantastic reasons to practice gratitude, right? Make it a habit to spend 15 minutes a day counting your blessings with these helpful tips.
Check out these 12 science-based benefits of meditation. Overall, the benefits are clear: reduced stress and anxiety, better emotional health, improved sleep and focus, and increased positive feelings and kindness. If you’ve never meditated and need help getting started, we recommend this guide.
Cook or Bake
Studies have shown that cooking and baking can make you feel more relaxed and can boost confidence, concentration, and emotional well-being. It’s a great way to distract yourself from the uncertainty of our times and to de-stress. An additional benefit is that you’ll eat healthier by making food from scratch rather than eating packaged or processed foods. Visit our recipes page for tasty and healthy ideas!
Take Breaks From the News
We know this is a hard one right now, however, it's extremely important to take a mental break. Watching too much news can add significantly to your fears and increase anxiety and the feeling of uncertainty. This can ultimately affect your sleep. You need to balance this with more positive influences and activities in your life.
Learn Something New
Have you always wanted to learn a new language, learn how to cook, write a book, or take an online class? Now that you have more time on your hands, there’s no time like the present! Learning something new will keep your mind engaged, improve your self-esteem, and give you a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Get inspired by this 3-minute TEDx talk: Learn Something New For 30 Days.
The act of decluttering not only reduces anxiety and stress, it also gives you a sense of accomplishment, increases mindfulness and gratitude, and also lightens your overall mental load. Start small...like that messy kitchen drawer you’ve been meaning to clean out. Sort your clothes and set aside items you no longer wear for donation. Check out these 18 decluttering tips to help you get started and conquer your clutter.
Limit Anxiety Triggers
Too much of the news or social media, nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol can add to your overall level of stress and anxiety and ultimately impact your ability to get a good night's sleep. There may also be other things in your life that trigger stress, so it's important to become more mindful and aware of what these stressors might be for you.
Listen to Relaxing Music
Music has been scientifically proven to be a useful therapeutic tool for reducing stress and improving emotional health, sleep quality, mood, mental focus, and quieting the nervous system. Read about the benefits of music, listen to some relaxing music, close your eyes, and feel the stress slowly leaving your body.
Please take time for yourself during these uncertain times and practice self-care. Start by adding small steps and habits into your life and make sure to celebrate each accomplishment.
How do you practice self-care? Please share your ideas and tips in the comments section below; we’d love to hear them!