5 Self-Care Tips to Elevate Yourself Above the Darkness and Uncertainties of Today
It’s really no secret that these are exceptionally stressful times. The streets of New York are quieter than they’ve ever been and yet, instead of a peaceful hush of a city at rest, the air buzzes with the strained silence of millions of minds overwhelmed with very real worries. Slowly but surely losing grip on a conventional sense of time (3 A.M. increasingly feels more like 3 P.M. day after day) and gradually merging with the couch cushions can sometimes make it feel like there is no escape to this time-sucking, reality-bending capsule that we’ve been thrown into. But self-isolation doesn’t have to be this despairing, Groundhog Day-esque trap of anxiety and darkness! Practicing optimism and self-care can help to uplift our minds above the gloom and view our situation from a whole new angle, setting us up for being the best versions of ourselves that we can be when we finally emerge from the fog. Here’s five tips for nurturing your physical and psychological self to make this time of self-isolation a time of self-improvement:
- Allow Your Creative Side to Shine Through
However your creativity shines through-- music, art, food, written word—allowing yourself to engage in some of these activities does not only act as a necessary distraction during these stressful times, but it can imbue you with a sense of accomplishment that you may not ever have the chance to fully realize without the surplus of time that you have now. So, use this time to start that novel you’re always talking about writing or partake in a daily writing challenge like the Escapril poetry challenge. If you’ve never been a singularly creative person, perhaps try finishing a puzzle or invest in adult coloring books (yes, they are as entertaining and soothing as they claim). What’s more, engaging in creative activities that involve other people such as singing slightly-off karaoke with your housemates, cooking for your loved ones, or sharing your work online with others can help foster that sense of community and sociability that this period of isolation has deprived us of. Creativity is invariably about feeding and nurturing your soul through release—something that our souls could use a little extra of during this time.
- Exercise (It’s Not Just Your Mind That Needs to Stay Active)
Clearly, regular exercise is always an important aspect of self-care. It helps with our sense of satisfactions and happiness within ourselves and provides those endorphins post-workout that makes you feel like you can take on anything. But, now more than ever, it is important to field any feelings of restlessness that are sure to come from being stuck within the confines of your home for days on end. There are plenty of online fitness classes that you can stream for free on YouTube and elsewhere from pilates, to yoga, and even more intense forms of cardio. Even if you aren’t typically the most active person, use this extra time to come out of quarantine looking and feeling the better than ever! Not only will you be combatting the fatigue of your constant quarantine snacking, you’ll be combatting the boredom of having too much extra time to exhaust your Netflix options. Even better, with the addition of exercise in your routine you’ll be sure to sleep better and more soundly! No more middle-of-the-night Instagram scrolling!
- Have an Indulgence Day
While it is important that you keep yourself productive and busy during the quarantine, it is just as important that you leave time to relax and do things that don’t strain your mind. Remember, there’s room for mindless activities like binging Tiger King on Netflix or serial snacking in your daily schedule. A suggestion is that you leave scheduled time—either a day or a few hours each day—for your indulgences. Maybe dedicate a day as an at-home spa day complete with fridge-facials, feel-good movies, and toothsome snacks (you know, the ones that you can eat a whole bowlful of in one sitting). Giving in to these indulgences every once in a while is just as vital to keeping your sanity as anything else. It’s important to relish in the small victories day by day, even if it merely entails mindless, guilt-free scrolling through Instagram and a nice, warm bath.
- Sleep Well (And Not Too Long)
Even with this surplus of time, it seems that many people are not coveting their sleep as they should. Between getting too much sleep and getting too little, the extra available hours for R.E.M. sleeping are not being used as they should. Sleep has remarkable effect on both your emotional and physical health, and so it is important that you take those hours in your bed to prioritize the quality of your rest. Pay special attention to your pre-sleep habits: don’t eat or drink anything sugary or caffeinated before bed, wind down and put your phone/electronics down (in a location nowhere near your bed) at least an hour before you plan to go to sleep, and form a bedtime routine that conditions your brain to associate hours of rest with the ritualized series of practices. For many people during this time, it can be difficult to find the respite of sleep when anxiety levels are at an all-time high. Ways to remedy this include the avoidance of stressors (work-related content, the news) right before bed as well as the utilization of sleep apps such as Calm, which provides support for sleep, meditation, and relaxation through the words of a soothing voice. Try to go to sleep at a reasonable hour (hint: if it counts as early morning, it’s not reasonable) and don’t sleep in too late as you could wind up feeling just as groggy as if you didn’t get enough sleep. With the very real threats that we are facing in our reality, it may be extremely difficult to calm the mind completely, but these practices can at least help to mitigate the stress and help us escape into the restful, connection-forming realm of R.E.M. sleep.
- Take it Easy with the News
Lastly, although it is tempting to constantly keep yourself updated with the news, you do yourself more harm than good by continuously watching the influx of information that is thrown at the public day after day. Yes, it is important to stay informed in light of the situation, but you can do so by reading the major headlines of the day instead of keeping the news on as an anxiety-inducing backtrack to your everyday routine. Refrain from sources that work to prey off of you’re the fear and anxiety surrounding our beings daily such as the often rumor-filled posts on Facebook and Instagram and instead look to objective and reliable sources like the CDC for quick and direct updates that don’t heighten your already skyrocketing anxiety levels.
While there is really not much that is within our control during this time of unpredictability, these self-care practices can help in grounding us within a true sense of self that we can use to light our way through this present darkness and even use in the future after we’ve emerged from the shadows with a more vivid awareness of the interconnectivity between the mind, body, and soul.