If you’ve been following this 3 part journal then you know what to expect with part 3: self care! Finally, a little attention on the self. Technically, if I were following the rules of self care this should have been first and foremost, because the number 1 rule in self care is if you aren’t taking care of yourself, you can’t properly care for others.
The CDC has released an article on COVID’s effect on mental health, stating that stress during an infectious disease pandemic can increase things like fear and worry about your own health (or health of the people you love), sleeping patterns, eating patterns, concentration, worsen chronic health conditions (mental and physical), and increase use of substances like alcohol and tobacco. (1)
It is always important to take care of our bodies, which are directly influenced by our brains. Make sure you are taking time for your own Pranayama, Hatha and Meditation practices. Take a nice long hot bath, enjoy an hour to yourself and unwind. Ever tried self-massage? This is a great way to clean out your lymphatic system and can aid in circulation. Start with your feet and slowly work your way up, moving your hands in circles, slowly rubbing every inch of your skin. When you are targeting your lymphatic system it is important to be gentle. If you’d like to target your muscles you can go a little deeper.
Are you exercising? You don’t have to be a marathon runner or lift heavy weights. Take yourself for a nice walk a few times a week. Try to avoid listening to podcasts about the news or reading current social affairs. If you can, use this time to relax and focus on things you’re grateful for. Gratitude is key.
If you can manage it, try not to increase alcohol consumption or use of other recreational drugs. Yes, we are going through a difficult time but wouldn’t it feel better to adopt healthier habits? A glass of wine with dinner won’t kill you, but if you’re looking for something fun to drink how about some nice herbal tea? I’ve recently got into the habit of making a huge brew of herbal tea and then putting it in the fridge. For some reason, iced tea feels like such a treat, and it can do wonders for your body!
Are you making time for yourself? Are you doing activities that YOU actually enjoy? It doesn’t even have to be constructive. If you’re running around frantically with a million things to do, take some time every week to watch your favorite Netflix show. If you’ve been watching a bit too much Netflix, dive into an old hobby. Cross-stitching, painting, knitting, cooking, baking. Anything that makes your heart sing.
Connect with others. This is a big one. Right now we might be feeling very estranged and distant from our loved ones. Make time to call your friends and family. If you are the type of person who struggles with this, put aside one day per week where you call at least one person you love. Try to talk about things other than the current global pandemonium. Feeling supported and in touch with community is important now more than ever.
Above all, be gentle with yourself. Many of you are parents with full time jobs and now may also have your kids at home full time. Don’t beat yourself up for not fulfilling every goal you had set or completing every task on your to-do list. Allow yourself days where you do nothing. Allow yourself days where relaxation is your main prerogative. We don’t need to fill every second with productivity, it’s okay to just be.
Shift your focus from everything that is going wrong to what is going right. Even amongst all the chaos there is always something to be grateful for. Remember to take care of you, and if you feel like you’re spreading yourself too thin, you probably are! Slow down, take a breath, give yourself an extra 5 minutes in savasana, you deserve it.
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