Our current circumstances are unprecedented and our days have been turned upside down. Here is a guide on physical and emotional self care during Covid-19.
We’re going through difficult times, with the Covid-19 pandemic spreading to all countries of the world and the number of cases rising by the day. The worst part is that there is no end in sight. The whole world is in a state of shutdown, with everyone sitting at home and wondering when this crisis is going to end. It’s a depressing scenario, to say the least.
It is this uncertainty that seems to have triggered the most stress and anxiety, along with other worries. People are worrying about their own health and the health of their family members, especially those advanced in age or with chronic health conditions. Others are worried about the economic impact of the crisis, especially since it’s confirmed that a recession is imminent. Then there’s also guilt and sadness when thinking about victims of the disease.
But humans have been known to get through tough situations before, and we’ll get through this one too. However, for this, we have to ensure that we take care of ourselves adequately during this difficult period. Even the WHO has stressed on the importance of mental health during this time. While scientists, healthcare workers and government officials across the world battle the coronavirus, the best thing we can do is to stay at home and take care of ourselves. Self care can be a confusing term at this time, and many are unsure of where to start. Here is a quick guide to your mental, physical and emotional self care during Covid-19.
Mental, Physical and Emotional Self Care during Covid-19
As mentioned earlier, most of the stress is due to uncertainty and the feeling of a lack of control over what’s happening around us. The solution to this is to on what we do have control over, starting with our daily routines.
You most likely had a daily routine before all this started, but the sudden lockdown has probably changed it in many ways. Schools are shut, you and your spouse have to work from home, there is no maid, cook or anyone to whom you can outsource work. This can throw you off balance, which is where a routine can help, by ensuring you have time to take care of high priority tasks.
But that’s not all that routines do; they inculcate a feeling of stability by adding structure to the day. Even Ayurveda prescribes daily and nightly routines, called ‘Dinacharya’ and ‘Ritucharya’, respectively. Routines help remove decision fatigue, so you’re not tired thinking about what to do next.
Routines can help develop good habits, get rid of bad ones, prevent time wastage and gives you time to focus on your family and your wellbeing. When making a routine, set one that works for you and not what someone else is following. Keep it flexible rather than sticking to rigid timelines. Keep reading to know what tasks you need to prioritize in your routine.
The first casualty of stress and anxiety is sleep, and poor sleep can make you feel worse. It’s a vicious cycle which you’d better break from the start. If you only have the mental space to focus on one thing now, let that be sleep. Once you get your sleep patterns right, everything else will start to fall into place.
With no commute or having to reach anyplace at a certain time, it can be tempting to sleep late, but this is counterproductive. Instead, try to wake up at your usual time as far as possible, which means you have to maintain an early bedtime.
Calculate how many hours of sleep you need and set a bedtime accordingly, and then treat this time as sacrosanct. Plan all your other tasks keeping this in mind so by the time bedtime rolls around, you’re ready for it. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, there are a few things you can follow:
- Avoid drinking anything with caffeine after 4:00 PM, including soft drinks
- Avoid watching TV just before bedtime, and definitely avoid the news
- Try to avoid scrolling trough social media at least an hour before bed
- Read something non-stimulating
- Drink a glass of warm milk or a cup of chamomile tea
- Keep your bedroom cool and use cotton sheets
- Use an eye mask to block out any light
Food seems to be a primary focus during this pandemic. People have been over-buying, in spite of official orders not to. Over purchasing will just end up in food wastage and food shortage as the supply chains struggle with the demand in the midst of the lockdown.
On the other hand, our new circumstances may cause us to simplify our meals, which is a good thing from a health perspective. With restaurants shutting down and food delivery services being limited, we are forced to eat more home cooked meals. We are also required to be more creative, thinking up recipes with whatever ingredients we have on hand.
However, being at home all day with the family can lead to a tendency to continue munching on something or the other all day long. Avoid processed foods with too much salt or sugar. Instead, choose natural options like dates, jaggery or dried fruit when you’re craving something sweet. Being at home can mean less exposure to sunlight and low levels of Vitamin D. Prevent a deficiency by eating foods like spinach, mushrooms and berries.
Make sure to include enough fiber to feel more full and ensure your digestive system is working well. Include spices like turmeric, cumin and garlic which have healing benefits. Drink traditional beverages like kadha or turmeric milk along with warm water throughout the day to stay hydrated.
Exercise has a very important role to play in self care, especially during a period of quarantine. Even healthcare workers treating CoVid-19 are asked to get some activity, or at least stretch during breaks. The WHO recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week.
Besides maintaining your physical health, moving about also changes your mood. The gyms may be shut and you may not be allowed to go on walks outside, but there are many ways you can exercise at home. Several websites and YouTube channels are offering free home workouts that you can choose based on your age and activity level.
Yoga is an excellent option during Covid-19, as it increases mental wellbeing along with making you move your body. Other than this, find ways you can move around as much as you can, like walking while talking on the phone. If you have a step or a sturdy stool, you can use it to do steps while watching TV.
We have been asked to maintain social isolation, which puts us away from some of our loved ones, and in very close proximity with others. This can put a stress on relationships in several ways.
Parents who find themselves stuck at home with energetic kids may find themselves bickering about who has to entertain the kids. With no maid, the burden of all the housework is also now a point of contention. Solve all these problems from escalating by setting boundaries and dividing tasks from the beginning. Take turns and do things in shifts, like working while the other parent is with the kids.
We may be away from our parents who are probably dealing with more anxiety since their age puts them in the high risk group for Covid-19. Make the most of technology to stay connected with them every day. Exchange reliable information about Covid-19 so that their fears are assuaged and you feel better too. Make sure to check on anyone else who may be spending this quarantine time all by themselves.
Be particularly careful with children during this time. Kids can easily pick up on the parent’s anxiety and it’ll reflect in their behaviour as well. Instead, be open with them, talk about what the disease is and give them age-appropriate information. Assure them that we’re all safe, and that this will pass.
You can also have group chats with extended family members which will help cheer everyone up. Take care of your mental health too, and avoid toxic people if it’s affecting your well bein\.
Now that you have nowhere to go, personal care may not be high on your list of priorities. But that can backfire and make you feel frumpy and unattractive. Instead, every morning, get ready for the day just as if you were going out. It’ll immediately change your mood and that of those around you.
This is the perfect time for all those intensive hair treatments or face masks you didn’t have time for earlier. Since we are washing our hands and using sanitizer much more than usual, we can end up with dry hands. So make sure to moisturize with a hand cream or a thick moisturizer in between washes.
Take care of your facial skin and wash it every day even if you’re not going out, so you can get rid of any excess oil and prevent breakouts. For body skin, try a simple scrub of sugar, used coffee grounds and coconut oil just before your bath. Your skin and hair are a good indicator of your overall health, and not going outdoors can make it dull. That’s another reason to get moving, so skin and hair health is restored.
We all probably had hobbies as kids and teenagers, but gave them up as we had to deal with job and family responsibilities. Well, this is the perfect time to revive your creative spirit!
Practicing hobbies isn’t just fun, it’s also a kind of relaxation for the mind, as we move our focus away from the problems of the world. Many creative activities don’t need too many supplies, like Origami, reading, writing, calligraphy or sketching. If you’re a beginner, there are many people offering free classes online, especially during this Covid-19 period. For instance, even Disney animators are offering doodling classes.
Other common hobbies that are also productive are sewing, knitting or gardening. You can also get creative by learning new skills like a new language or computer programming. You know yourself best, so choose an activity that has been relaxing for you in the past – chances are it’ll work perfectly now too.
To avoid making your hobby time seem like work, consider having a separate area in your home for this. Decorate it with a few things you make yourself or some inspiring pictures and soft cushions to make it an inviting place and increase the enjoyment of your creative pursuit.
While all the tips mentioned above should help relieve stress, sometimes you just have to deal with it head on. People react differently to adverse situations, and those who are more vulnerable to anxiety and depression may have a harder time dealing with the current situation.
Avoiding bad feelings or brushing them aside does not help, as unresolved issues always tend to pop up sooner or later. Instead, find ways to vent, like writing in a journal, drawing or even dancing. These activities will help you face your fears and help you process your thoughts.
The news is a source of information, but it can also be a source of stress. Completely staying away from the news may not help, since you may feel like you are missing out on important information. Put breaks on the news you take in through any means – watching, reading or listening. Make sure you get your updates from reliable sources and toss everything else.
Besides these, try a guided meditation for a few minutes every day. Over time, you’ll start noticing the difference. Watch happy movies or cheerful TV shows and listen to calming music. This is also a good time to practice mindfulness. Whatever activity you’re doing, put all your focus into it, whether it’s washing the dishes or having a cup of tea.
At the end of the day, remember that you’re not alone; we’re all in this together. Although some each person deals with it differently. Some people may appear to be learning two languages, cooking nutritious meals and homeschooling their kids while you feel like you’re barely managing. Do not compare yourself with anyone else. This is the time to be gentle with yourself and give yourself time to adjust to the new normal. If you’re having severe bouts of despair or are finding it difficult to get out of bed in the morning, talk to a friend or family member – there’s no shame in asking for help.
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