Why do we keep going on about self-care? Well, I can tell you that since the beginning of 2020 practices of valuing and taking care of yourself (body and mind) has never been more important. For Ontarians, the lockdown that we thought was going to end early 2021 with a bright light of happiness and normalcy was quickly halted and extended leaving us all in our homes with friends, lovers, family and yes ourselves! You heard that right, from 2020 until now this is the most time that a lot of us have spent with ourselves. The start of 2020 gave us a lot of time to analyze ourselves for good and bad with the chance to work on perfecting perfection and/or filling in the cracks. If anyone out there was quarantined with their significant other and family it made working on ourselves a lot harder because let us face it, often taking care of ourselves takes the back seat to taking care of others. For some, this may not be the case! When we take care of ourselves first it makes it easier to take care of others around us. When we are calm, and patient because we have just come back from a massage, our family benefits from that. When we workout and improve the way, we feel and potentially look, our family benefits from that too. With 2021 still early on the horizon some of you may have this whole self-care thing down to a science and others may still be attempting the first step.
I read an article by Brigitt Earley in Oprah Magazine 25 Self-Care Tips to Boost Your Mental Health. I am here to analyze that article and break down realistic tips for lockdown for those who need help in that first step or those who need a little variety in their routine. The tips were taken directly from this article, but the descriptions are my own interpretations. These are my own opinions and in no way are a scientific or researched guide on these topics, I am not an expert. I have done or have been doing a lot of these and can tell you it works and has been helping me through quarantine and lockdown 2020-2021.
Realistic for lockdown-
- Stop hitting the snooze button—causes disrupted sleep which makes you more tired.
- Open the blinds as soon as you rise—getting in some sunshine will help balance your stress levels.
- Start a side hustle/hobby—something that you enjoy and that you look forward to doing will help reduce stress and increase happiness.
- Put on a face mask—good skin makes for a happier you, if you can try to do this on the regular.
- Banish your phone from the bedroom—we limit screen time with our children, so why not us too. Screen time has been linked to depression among many things, so put it away in the bedroom and leave the bedroom for what it meant for.
- Eat a healthy snack—this one kind of seems like a no brainer but chips, chocolate and candy are good for your feelings but not good for your body. Switch something with actual nutrients and you will probably begin to feel better.
- Get a houseplant—it’s ok it you are not a green thumb, there are many plants out there meant for people like you. A plant clears the air, improves your mood, and increases your sense of calm.
- Read a joyful story each morning—this one seems too good to be true, trade your morning news reading ritual with something funny, and uplifting.
- Trade your coffee for a soothing cup of tea—this one is on both lists, for me, I am already doing this, have been limiting my coffee intake since November 2019, but since October 2020, my coffee intake is maybe once a month, I prefer tea and notice the positive differences between tea versus coffee.
- Meditate for five minutes—taking a quiet breather away from everything is never a bad thing and can only help to make you less stressed and calmer.
- Look at pics of cute animals—this one is an easy one unless you do not like animals. Looking at cute animals increases your mood making you less stressed, easy.
- Do something nice for someone else—this one is an easy one! Kindness to others boosts your mood and makes you feel happier for longer than anything materialistic.
- Doodle or color—this one kind of goes back to a hobby, if you are an artist this one might be for you, along with painting. Your mind and body relax when you are engaged in such an activity, making you less stressed.
- Take a break—right now travelling is not recommended but that does not mean we cannot take a break right in our own home, have you tried a hot shower, or a nice bath?
- Get outside—with our lockdown in place during the middle of winter, going for a walk, run or to go get essentials is really the only reason we are going outside. Try to enjoy the short time you spend breathing in fresh air and exercise you are giving your body. Time outside reduces stress; helps you sleep better and boosts your mental health.
- Exercise regularly—just a few times a week can make a difference in your mental health. Taking a walk, going for a run, or doing a home workout (while gyms are closed), will boost your happy hormones and make you feel more like you.
- Write in a gratitude journal—take the time in the morning to say something you are thankful for and before you go to bed think of something in the day you are thankful for. Having a positive outlook on the day ahead and the day that is past will increase the positive vibes in your life. While writing it down may be unrealistic for some, so even if you mentally envision it, it will improve your day.
- Get ample sleep—we are all at home, most of us working from home, and not allowed to leave the house, what better excuse is there to head to bed early or sleep in. A well rested body and mind makes a world of a difference on your mental and physical well being and leads to self-care.
- Have a release—this one is for the lovers (solo lovers included) out there, take the time to take care of yourself and your partner sexually. This will boost everyone’s mood and make for a positive atmosphere in the home.
- Light a candle—I will also add using an essential oil diffuser. Aromatherapy and the part of our body that controls the olfactory scene plays a part in helping our emotional state.
- Spend 10 minutes a day decluttering—I will add to this one and say cleaning too! Getting ride or re-organizing your space/home will increase your sense of accomplishment and make you feel happier. Cleaning is also a good way to get rid of COVID germs while, feeling like you have accomplished something. There is no better feeling than a clean, organized space.
Unrealistic for lockdown
- Get a massage—we all know the benefits of a massage but right now with lockdown and COVID this may not be the safest option.
- Say no—this one is a tricky one and I debated which side to put it on but ultimately, I choose to put it here because right now we are not obligated by saying yes to social hangouts or other obligations because of COVID, so saying no to things like reduced workload, or exercise, or even an extra episode of something is not an option right now.
- Trade your coffee for a soothing cup of tea—its on this list because coffee tastes good, and it a must for a lot of people. Right now, everything feels like it is being taken away from you so if you want and need coffee, have a cup of coffee.
- Learn to anticipate problems before they arise—this one is unrealistic for me because thinking about potential problems that could happen to me that day make me more anxious than just tackling problems IF they even arise that day.
- Unplug after dinner each night—it put this one down as for many who are running a business, trying to stay connected with friends and family, after dinner, when the kids are in bed is a great time to catch up. However, I will say that taking a break during the day or putting the phone away an hour or 30 min before you go to bed would help.