Self-care has never been more important than it is right now. As we face these uncertain times, our collective future depends on how we respond to this quickly evolving global pandemic. We are loving beings who have a responsibility do everything we can to stay well, and to avoid overburdening our fragile healthcare system. Those who will need medical care in the coming days and weeks are depending on us to do this for them.
But the changes we're being asked to make feel pretty overwhelming. We're being asked to change our familiar routines. We're being asked to spend more time in solitude. We're being asked to adjust our resources. We're being asked to change every part of our daily lives.
But we're also being given an opportunity to learn how to take better care of ourselves -- and each other. If you're struggling right now, here are some self-care strategies to help you move through these challenging times.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Feel the air come into your lungs as you inhale and allow the air to leave your lungs gently. Give thanks for your precious life. You are alive.
Deep breathing exercises can help you relax and move through intense emotions. It can help you return to a state of calm, so you can process what's happening and make good decisions about where to go from here.
Move your body. Go for a run. Take the dog for a walk. Practice yoga in your living room. Take an online fitness class. Ride your bike. Dust the spider webs off the hand weights you shoved in the corner of your guest room four years ago. Pull your pajamas off the handles of the exercise bike in the basement.
Move your body in whatever way that feels good. Physical activity releases the body’s natural “feel good” chemicals called endorphins. These hormones have been shown to improve mood, reduce pain, and increase happiness.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults get 150 to 300 minutes of physical activity each week, or 30 minutes, three times a week.
Give your body time to recover from all the emotional and physical demands that have been placed on it. Sleep deeply. Nap. Rest your eyes and rest your soul. You're going to need energy for whatever lies ahead.
Lack of sleep is associated with compromised immune function, weight gain, and challenges with problem-solving. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that most adults get 7 or more hours of sleep each day. Getting enough restful rest is essential to your well-being.
Your body is naturally designed to protect you, but it needs high-quality essential nutrients to do so. Your body needs water to circulate nutrients and release toxins. It needs a wide array of colorful, phytochemical-rich fruits and vegetables to support a strong immune system. It needs sufficient calories in the form of protein, carbohydrates and fat.
Be sure to honor your body with healthy, nourishing foods so it can protect and support you effectively.
Unplug. Turn off the news. Put down your phone. Spend time in quiet, even if it means locking yourself in the bathroom for a few minutes now and then. Create sacred spaces where you can retreat to when you need find peace and calm. Find healthy outlets for intense emotions, like exercising, journaling, or talking with a friend. Press the pause button and give yourself space to process.
Give what you can to support your family and community. Keep paying for your gym membership even if you don't go. Keep ordering takeout from your favorite local restaurants. Keep money flowing within your community, so you can weather this storm together. Generosity is healing, too.
Love your family. Love your neighbors. But don't forget to also love yourself. Love begins within, so be gentle with yourself. Be forgiving. Give yourself grace. You're doing the best you can.
Allow all the messy feelings and emotions to move through you, so you can let go of them. That's the only way you'll have the capacity to love and care for others.
But if you're still feeling overwhelmed, start by asking these simple questions:
Those two questions will keep you focused on what's most important, one moment at a time. The Rate Your 8 self-assessment tool is also a helpful way to identify your needs.
P.S. If you need more support right now, the Simplify online course can help you clear the clutter, so you can live with more ease and better health. Stay well, friends.
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