Written by Veronica Adler, LMT, Reiki, CST
In times like these, it’s important to take care of yourself. Whatever you’re experiencing, I honor you. I hope that everyone is staying healthy, happy, and safe during this time.
Doing your best to practice self-care can help you move through difficult situations like these with more ease and grace. Not only can you help yourself, but you can also help your family and community stay positive and healthy.
Here are 10 sure-fire ways to take care of yourself while staying at home:
1. Get Moving
Whether it’s Tai Chi, yoga, or kickboxing, movement is a great way to elevate mood, boost energy, and promote restful sleep. Physical activity stimulates those happy brain chemicals, which will help you feel happier, more relaxed, and less anxious.
If you’re working from home, make sure you take regular breaks to get up and move. It’ll help reduce both physical tension and mental stress.
If your gym has closed, there are a lot of great free resources online. Youtube.com has numerous yoga, Tai Chi, cardio, and even strength training videos for free. Dailyburn.com is also a good resource for working out at home, but it does require a paid subscription.
2. Keep a Journal
Journaling is a great way to increase mental health by helping you to understand your thoughts and feelings more clearly. This can be especially important now as we’re practicing social distancing. Journaling can help manage anxiety and reduce stress. It can also help you identify negative thought patterns and increase positive self talk.
Get out your notebook, put on some relaxing music, and allow yourself to let go of all those negative thoughts and emotions.
3. Take a Hot Bath
This is one of my go-to self-care rituals. Applying heat to the body can help increase blood flow and relax the muscles. It can also be a great way to wind down at the end of a long day. Bathing with epsom salts can help with sore muscles, arthritis, swelling, and tired feet. If you enjoy aromatherapy, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Lavender is a great choice for relaxation.
If you do not have a bath or hot tub, you can also use a heating pad or thermophore and apply it to the area of tension. You can also use a bucket to create a hot soak with epsom salt for the feet, or apply a hot towel to the neck and shoulders.
4. Start a Tea Ritual
Brewing tea can be a soothing, relaxing ritual for many, and teas have many herbal benefits. I find it exciting to learn about the medicinal properties of different herbal teas, which can help with everything from anxiety to menstrual cramps. Having a cup of tea at the end of the day may help you wind down, while starting the day with tea may help you invigorate and energize.
Jesse Jacobs, the founder of Samover Tea Lounge writes, “The simple act of brewing, sipping, and savoring tea leaves in a cup elevates you above the chaos in life today. Filling you with flavor, calm, and vitality, the tea ritual is a vehicle for both inner peace and health, and interpersonal connection and happiness.”
For those looking for a relaxing herbal tea, chamomile is a great start. Green and black teas are wonderful for invigorating in the morning, and green teas have many health benefits.
5. Connect with the Breath
Having a meditation practice, or simply connecting with the breath for a few minutes a day may help you cope with stress and anxiety. The great thing is there’s so many free resources, apps, and methods of meditation to suit everyone’s needs, whether you’re an experienced meditator or just beginning.
One simple technique that I recommend is full belly breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, to reduce anxiety and stress.
This two minute Youtube video will show you how: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xQJ2O4b5TM
Laughter is the best medicine. While it can be difficult to laugh or find humor in trying times, it has scientifically proven benefits for our bodies and minds.
The Mayo Clinic lists the many short term benefits of laughter, including increasing the endorphins released by the brain and stimulating your heart and lungs with oxygen rich air. In the long term, laughter can actually boost immunity, relieve pain, and help you cope better with difficult situations.
7. Be Gentle with Yourself and Others
In stressful times it can be easy to put a lot of pressure on ourselves or others. We may feel like things are out of our control. It’s easy to be frustrated, hurt, or anxious while practicing social distancing. Remembering to be gentle with yourself can be a great way to cultivate self compassion, and in turn cultivate more compassion for others. As we’re all in this together, the more gentler we are with ourselves, the more support we can show for others.
8. Practice Gratitude
Staying grateful for all the wonderful things we have can help us feel better even in the worst of times. According to Psychology Today, gratitude can actually help foster mental resilience, allowing us to cope with stress more effectively. By writing down a list of things you have to be grateful for, you can shift your focus away from any stress or fear you may be experiencing.
A 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being demonstrated that spending just 15 minutes writing down a few things you’re grateful for before bed may actually help you sleep better and longer.
9. Schedule Screen-Free Time
It may be tempting to stay glued to the screen, waiting for the next news developments, but I encourage you to spend some time away from your phones and screens. Not only do our laptops, phones, and other screens strain our eyes, but they elevate dopamine and adrenaline levels in the body, similar to some drugs.
Getting some screen-free time may help you give time to other hobbies, such as reading, knitting, or exercising. It can also increase mindfulness and help you stay in the present moment.
10. Self Massage
Self-massage is an easy way to connect with your body that can help increase circulation, reduce stress, and reduce muscular tension. Give yourself a gentle, soothing foot rub at the end of the day. If you spend a long time at your computer, take a few minutes to rub your neck and shoulders while taking a break.
For some simple, soothing massage techniques for the face and neck, follow this link to my new video: https://youtu.be/-f4Ejle0kE4
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