As we’ve discussed on the blog recently, the current coronavirus pandemic has changed the way most of us live our day-to-day lives and will for the foreseeable future. We have all had to adjust to major changes in our routines in addition to worries about finances, safety, and how long this will all be going on. It might feel like a weird time to think about yourself, but taking care of yourself is especially important right now. If you’re unsure of how to get started with self-care during the COVID-19 pandemic, here are some tips from our Houston therapists:
Figure out who your support system is
It’s more important than ever to have a solid support system in place. No one can go it alone, and it can be a great comfort to know that people have your back. You might have an idea of who is in your support system, but make sure to be realistic. Make sure your support people are folks who are actually able to help. Not the people who say “Let me know how I can help,” the people who actually show up and help or who have a proven track record of listening to you with empathy instead of judgment.
Set up regular check-ins
If you know you’re struggling, setting up regular check-ins with your support system might go a long way toward helping you feel taken care of. Instead of waiting for someone to come to you, you can make a plan to meet regularly to discuss how you’re feeling. If you’re struggling right now, chances are people close to you are struggling too. Even though you might not be able to come up with solutions or change the way things are, it can be nice to feel solidarity with another person who understands what you’re going through.
Remember you’re not alone in your grief right now
Life has changed for so many of us, and we’re all still processing the whirlwind of emotions that goes along with that. If it helps you, remember that there are millions of other people grieving right there with you right now. We are all processing this the best we can, and feeling grief is an absolutely acceptable response.
Tend to your physical needs too
Your schedule might be weird right now, and you might have a hard time even figuring out what day it is. If that’s the case, you’re definitely not alone! One way to break up the monotony of days at home is to schedule in ways to take care of yourself. Set regular reminders to take breaks during the day so you get up and away from your work once in a while. Put movement on your calendar for each day, so it doesn’t slip your mind. You don’t need to be pushing your body or punishing yourself for any physical changes that have happened since the pandemic broke out – just take a few minutes every day to move your body in a way that feels good to you. Exercise is a great way to manage stress, and in this incredibly stressful time, it can make a huge difference. Make sure you are sticking to a sleep schedule as well – rest is important, especially during times of intense stress like we’re in now.
Try breathwork or meditation for self-care
One of the hardest things for many people is slowing down. We’re usually rewarded for hard work and productivity, so it might feel strange to intentionally slow down. Trying breathwork or meditation has never been easier – there are tons of apps and videos that are available for free to help you build the habit. In particular, the app Headspace is a great place to start – their goal is to teach as many people mindfulness and meditation as possible, so they have options for everyone. They offer guided meditations, educational information, articles, and videos all on the topic of improving your self-care skills. You might be surprised by how grounding it can be to check in with your breath regularly and to slow down with intention.
Allow yourself to rest
You don’t need to keep busy or keep hustling right now. This is a trying time for many of us, but remember that you can’t help others if you don’t help yourself. We all need rest, and we probably need more rest right now than we typically do. Part of self-care is honoring your own needs, so listen when your body tells you it needs rest. Life isn’t all about being productive – it’s also about being kind and gentle to ourselves and others.
Don’t try to bury your feelings right now. We’re all going through complex emotions, and they’re changing all the time. One great way to process and release those feelings is to write them down in a journal. It can be freeing to release the words onto the page instead of keeping them in your head. You might be able to see patterns and make connections once the words are on paper so you can help yourself cope in a way that will be effective for you.
Thankfully, therapy is still an option during this pandemic. Many practices have now switched to offering virtual appointments for therapy, so you can still meet your therapist via video for your session. This ordeal is probably going to last a while, so prioritizing your mental health might go a long way toward making you feel more in control right now.
There’s no fool-proof way to practice self-care right now. You might need to do some trial and error to find out how to best care for yourself during times of extreme stress like we’re going through right now with the COVID-19 pandemic. Be gentle with yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.