Everyone is struggling with the pandemic prevention measures in one way or another. While their lifestyle and work situations may be different, collectively almost everyone is feeling some degree of anxiety and isolation. If you are, too, you’re not alone. This kind of stress can have many subtle effects on your mental and emotional health, but there are ways you can address its impact.
Something many people are experiencing is a lack of energy, when they feel that they should be using their increased spare time to be productive: learn a new skill, organize their house, work on their creative projects. If you’re finding that staying busy is helping you cope, hustling through stress can work for you! But, if you’re having a hard time with your normal routine right now, let alone adding anything extra onto your plate, that is 100% okay!
Self-care doesn’t always have to be a massively productive undertaking, or even indulgent and luxurious, like spa days or blowouts. Sometimes self-care is pushing yourself just a bit, to tend to yourself in small ways. What would you want to do for a friend who was struggling? You are that friend, and you can step up to take care of you, in manageable ways.
1. Complete an achievable chore
Completing a task, no matter how small, can help you feel capable - even if it’s just tidying the top of your desk, making your bed, or rinsing out a few tea cups. Sometimes momentum can help you continue to further productivity, but if not, that’s okay, too! Even just one task ticked off your list can make you feel better. Think of it as helping your future self out, both with a sense of achievement, and making sure she doesn’t have to stare down a day’s worth of dishes.
2. Connect with plants
Whether it’s tending to a houseplant jungle already in place, buying your first potted plant to care for, or laying out your backyard garden, connecting with plants can have a positive effect on your mental health, as well as multiple other benefits. A vegetable garden or even just a few tomato plants on your balcony can give you fresh produce later in the year; seeing something growing is positive and provides you something to look forward to day-to-day. Houseplants can brighten up your living space; my pride and joy is my Monstera Deliciosa and I love checking her out every morning to see if a new leaf has unfurled!
3. Stay Hydrated
Hydration is essential! This tip might seem fairly obvious, but if you are one of the people whose routines have shifted, you’re at home throughout the day when you’d normally be at your workplace, and your habits might have changed. I’m strangely great at drinking water at the office, but terrible at remembering to drink water at home, where I have kombucha, where I can easily make another cup of Earl Grey, and where I don’t have a water cooler I’m used to walking to every day.
Remembering to fill a glass or water bottle and leaving it somewhere you will see it can help. I painted myself a little sign saying “Drink Water!” and hung it above my workspace to remind myself. If you’re working from home, getting up and doing a little dance around the kitchen while you refill your water bottle is a great way to take a break from sitting.
4. Move your body
I’m definitely not suggesting you start an ambitious exercise routine out of the blue! But maybe you had your favorite gym time dialed in, a yoga studio you really like, or a go-to jogging route, but now you’re nervous about even leaving the house, and everywhere you usually go is closed. That can be really discouraging.
I’ve been doing yoga classes from home that my studio is now offering online, but there are some days where even that can be a struggle if I’m feeling bummed. If you aren’t able to complete a workout in the way you prefer, maybe try something gentle: going for a socially distanced walk around your neighborhood, or even just doing some stretches and a few laps around your home can help increase your heart rate, release endorphins, and allow you to feel that you’re caring for your body.
5. Share your emotions with others
Stay in touch with your loved ones! When in isolation, people need connection more than ever. Reach out to a friend or family member, either in person if you live together, or over the phone or video chat, to ask if they have available emotional space to listen. If so, share your worries, and offer to reciprocate so you can give some comfort to them, too. It’s important to know that you’re not alone in your anxiousness right now, and the sense of having shared your concerns and provided a comforting ear to someone else can help bolster you emotionally.