It doesn’t seem so long ago that ‘self-care’ meant a treat or indulgence. Perhaps, going for a facial or spa session? Something special just for ourselves squeezed into busy lives. Now, self-care has never been more important as we continue to face the challenges and uncertainty of living in 2020-2021. It’s time for a new definition of ‘self-care’, one that is really about taking care of the whole self, physically, mentally and emotionally.
Just as the COVID virus has moved in waves around the world, we’ve had to continually adjust our individual response to changing situations. The need for daily self-care has become an essential part of life. Being able to cope with isolation, anxiety and stress, and staying balanced and centred in our state of well-being is now so, so important. To be able to cope with new reality, self-care activities that work for us are non-negotiable.
The following suggestions are things I’ve been doing in recent months, strategies that have helped me maintain a (more) grounded and balanced physical and emotional self in these ‘lockdown days’. They haven’t been regular or consistent because I’ve focused on doing what I need, when I need to do it. And that has been changing over the weeks and months depending on my personal state and that of the world around me. Try to be instinctive, as well, and follow your intuition about what you need on a day-to-day basis. You can always make adjustments if you feel like it.
Manage your MOOD
In the first months of a stranded and locked-down life, managing anxiety was a priority. Keeping blood pressure and stress levels under control was something I needed to do, so I consciously decided to ‘stop worrying’. This is not as easy as it sounds, of course. But using colour, light therapy and some aromatherapy to manage mood and physical signs of anxiety helped a lot. Over time, and along with positive affirmations and visualisations, I did make changes to my naturally worrying mind. It doesn’t hurt to remind yourself that “worrying about things you have no control over is NOT going to help!” Here are some more suggestions:
- Colour therapy. Use coloured lighting to enhance your environment and living space. https://workinmind.org/2020/07/23/the-power-of-colour-using-design-to-create-calm/
- Light. The sun is a natural mood-booster, triggering the release of serotonin and helping you to feel calm. https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/benefits-sunlight
- Sound as therapy. Listen to specific frequencies if you have trouble sleeping. There are some good links here: https://balance.media/sound-for-sleep/
Find your JOY
After a year or so living in an unchanging environment and situation, my self-care needs changed again. Mindset and motivation were being tested and I began consciously looking for things that made me happy. Hobbies I’d tried had lost their appeal. Trying to be ‘productive’ – because, after all, I had so much time – wasn’t working either. I needed to find other interests to bring joy. Something new to focus on will bring positive energy. And I notice that even small things can make a big difference.
Really, this was about ‘raising vibration’. Finding joy in something, no matter how small, can raise your energy – the vibrational field – so that emotions are lifted and fear/anxiety minimised. With the ‘normal’ distractions of the outside world no longer available to us, we have to look for other ways to pass time. Getting through each day with joy-filled moments, makes the time spent – even if you’re alone – meaningful. This is what I’ve been doing:
- Music. Research shows that music stimulates ‘feel good’ chemicals (endorphins, oxytocin), which can help energise our mood. https://www.abc.net.au/classic/events/music-for-wellbeing/
- Art. Artistic activities are known to lower stress levels and promote calmness. It takes your mind off everyday problems and is a relaxing distraction. https://www.riseart.com/guide/2278/art-collections-art-and-wellbeing-the-healing-power-of-art
- Even if you don’t feel it, fake it. The simple act of smiling can trick the brain into lifting your mood, lowering your heart rate and reducing stress. https://www.healthline.com/health/affects-of-joy#Wondering-if-you-can-actually-trick-your-body-into-feeling-happy?
Make time to MOVE
At some point, I had moved on to ‘couch-potato mode’, and life was, oh, so sedentary. At that time, too, the sound of sirens started. An audible reminder of the sadness in the world beyond my walls. Emotions became more – what’s the word? Well, just ‘more’. My instinctive response was to start moving. Walking around the neighbourhood. But also around my living space. It’s better than nothing, right? And it was what I needed to do.
If you do have access to outdoor spaces, that’s the best choice for exercise, fresh air and connecting with nature. Where I am, public spaces were/are closed so I do what I can, with what I have. Grounding and balance can be found in other ways, if you are open to exploring different energy practices.
- Yoga. This is a nurturing practice for body, mind and spirit. https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/18-reasons-to-practice-self-care/
- Walking. A simple activity we can all do to improve our mood and the quality of sleep. It can also reduce stress and anxiety with physical benefits, too. https://mindshift.org.au/walking-and-mental-health/
- Dance. Just moving to music can help improve wellbeing, physically and mentally. If it feels good, do it … no-one is watching, right? https://www.calmmoment.com/wellbeing/how-dancing-can-improve-your-mental-and-physical-health/
Let your self-talk support all your self-care actions. That means no guilt is allowed. Self-care isn’t selfish. If you take care of you, then you’ll have more to give to others. Oh, and do give yourself that facial or mani-pedi as well – if you feel like it! xx