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5 Self-Care Techniques to Rely On during COVID-19

March 19, 2020 Deana LaFauci

As many cities begin to adopt greater preventive measures to halt the spread of COVID-19, many of us are finding ourselves working from home, separated both from our teams and organizations—and our regular schedules.

The shift can feel colossal, especially for those who are officially confined to their homes due to shelter-in-place orders.

All of us are taking on a new role: Parents are now home-school teachers, bosses are serving as emotional support systems, 20-somethings are becoming impromptu delivery people carrying much-needed supplies for at-risk or elderly loved ones, and neighbors are becoming caregivers for one another. It’s truly inspiring to see so many rising to the occasion.

At the same time, all these new roles require emotional labor, and that can be truly exhausting. In addition to being responsible for others, we all have an obligation to take care of ourselves. During times of crisis, #SelfCare can seem like a trend or even self-indulgent, but it’s important to our overall health—and our health is vital when it comes to caring for others during times of crisis.

Simply put, self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health, and nothing could be more important as we face this public health emergency.

Here are five self-care tactics you can put into play right now to benefit you and your family:

1.Recognize the symptoms of stress

“The World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 as a pandemic to highlight the level of concern and spark measures of precaution,” writes Shainna Ali PhD, LMHC, in Psychology Today. “In a parallel process, your stress is doing the same for you as it sets off a warning alarm that calls you to action.”

The World Health Organization emphasizes that preventive care has an impact on fighting the coronavirus, which means that our ability to cope with stress is crucial. Ali recommends reviewing the symptoms of stress—which can range from sadness and confusion to reduced energy and sleeping problems—as a first step to managing emotions.

2. Look for the helpers—and the good news stories

In recent years, a particularly touching quote by Mr. Rogers has often been shared on social media during times of crisis or disaster: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

Mr. Rogers was right—there are always helpers around, especially in times of uncertainty or crisis.

There have been hundreds and hundreds of good deeds—large and small—in the weeks since the beginning of this epidemic: Cleveland Cavaliers player Kevin Love donated $100,000 to support the arena’s hourly arena employees after NBA games were suspended. As Italy’s hospitals have run out of equipment, one hospital is making its own using 3D printers and local experts. And, a husband recently celebrated his 67th wedding anniversary outside of his wife’s nursing home after coronavirus restrictions kept them apart.

All these stories are about resiliency, hope, and lending a hand to those in need, using the skills, resources, and abilities we already have. Acknowledging the presence of these “helpers” can empower us to gain a new perspective and some positivity in the face of uncertainty.

3. Adopt an attitude of gratitude

Gratitude is key to psychological well-being. Here are just a few examples of what gratitude does for our mental health: Gratitude makes us happier, and it helps us improve our relationships. Beyond our mental health, there is good reason to suspect that gratitude also has an effect on our physical health. In fact, people of all ages and various nationalities who have more grateful dispositions report fewer health complaints than their less-grateful counterparts. Feeling and showing gratitude can take many forms. At the end of each day, reflect on your feelings and experiences by writing down your thoughts: What was a challenge for you—and what are you grateful for? Writing in a gratitude journal even improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being.

You can also demonstrate gratitude in simple but meaningful ways. Start video conferences by asking about others, take time to send check-in emails to every member of your team, and say “thank you” when others extend you the same courtesy.

4. Take a walk—no, seriously

Chances are that you’ve probably already been told to get outside and take a walk…. But have you actually taken a walk today? Turns out, there’s a reason taking a walk is so highly recommended—it works! It’s one of the best things we can do to improve our overall health, from lower BMI and lower blood pressure and cholesterol, to better memory and cognitive function. There are many reasons why taking a walk is beneficial, but here’s why taking a walk is even more important as we work from home: Walking, especially in nature, stimulates the production of neurotransmitters in the brain (think endorphins!), which help improve our mental state.

If you manage a team, take time to add a “Mindfulness Moment” to their calendars. That means blocking off at least 30 minutes a day (which doesn’t fall during the lunch hour) to allow your team the flexibility to unplug, get moving, and decompress.

5. Incorporate creativity into your life

Now that schools and colleges are closed, and many students are taking online classes from home, a “typical” schedule—filled with commuting, activities, trips to the gym or exercise classes, and social events—is out the window. When that happens, it’s easy to forget to incorporate new activities to fill the time usually dedicated to our regular lives. Sure, Netflix is great, but try to identify new activities that will help you actively learn, think, or get creative.

Here’s an easy way to incorporate creativity in your life: BRIT+CO is now offering all their online courses for free through 3/31 using promo code SELFCARE at checkout. Choose from a variety of courses on tons of fun and creative topics like cake decorating, digital illustration, family photography, acrylic painting, and even “unlock your planner potential” for those of us who find joy in organizing to-do lists.

With these self-care tips, you can unlock wellness during this time of uncertainty and change. What self-care tips are you incorporating in your life? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter.

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