I recall at the beginning of the pandemic and first period of lockdown in March, being thrown into a tailspin as I tried to make sense of how an invisible and silent virus could sweep through the world causing so much suffering. Closer to home, the sudden loss of routine and freedom was shocking. The security and comfort of our concept of time was dwindling away as I suddenly felt unsure about what day it was and for a short period of time I felt well and truly de-railed.
As we enter a second period of lockdown in our quest to control the virus, I reflect on what has helped me to navigate my way through this period of time and I realise that self-care has become a priority. It isn’t a luxury or a commodity, but essential to our physical and emotional wellbeing, which we can then share with others in our lives. We may all be familiar with the analogy of placing the oxygen mask over our own faces before helping others, but even though this makes sense, how often do we actually prioritise our own self-care? Self-care doesn’t need to be complicated, time consuming or cost anything, but does require an intention, motivation and action. I recently heard someone say:
“I feel so much better now because I go outside for a short walk at lunchtime, instead of sitting all day at my desk…I listen to the birds and rustling of leaves as I walk, I smell the fresh autumn air and breathe deeply… I feel calmer, more energised and ready to continue my day with a positive mindset”
As we navigate our way through this unprecedented period of time in our lives, perhaps our awareness is drawn towards re-evaluating, prioritising and reflecting on the benefits of our own self-care.
7 Self Care Tips:
Practice mindfulness. Formal and informal mindfulness practice can help to settle an agitated and busy mind, allowing us to connect with the present moment and calm the body. Practising mindfulness can help to cultivate kindness towards ourselves so that we are more able to ride the waves of difficult emotions, helping us to become more resilient. You might like to practice this short 3 minute Self-Compassion Break
Go outside for a mindful walk, run or cycle. Incorporating some time in nature each day will benefit your body and mind. Allow your awareness to move away from thinking and into the present moment of your senses – feel the body move and breathe in the fresh air, listen to sounds, take note of what you can see. What is it like to notice the simplest of pleasant events around you?
Take regular breaks away from screens. Many of us are now spending even more time staring at screens, which is allowing us to continue to work, stay connected with family and friends and enjoy watching films. It’s also helpful however to be mindful of taking regular breaks away from screens. Perhaps set some periods of time each day without a phone, TV, laptop etc and enjoy a mindful pause with a cup of tea or a nice meal or even an afternoon nap if this is possible.
Reduce your time watching the news each day. The news naturally draws us in with a heavy bias towards the negative. This feeds our own internal negativity bias and we can easily find ourselves feeling anxious as we feed those worrying thoughts that arrive in our minds. I regularly hear people say that they are now limiting their exposure to the news perhaps to once a day and this helps them to gain perspective and feel calmer. I do the same!
Start a new hobby. Many people tell me that they are enjoying exploring new hobbies and activities at home such as cooking, jigsaws, board games, painting, growing vegetables, watching comedy, online yoga, listening to music and reading an interesting book. All of these activities can help to trigger our parasympathetic nervous system, helping us to feel a sense of calm and connection to the present moment.
Practice Gratitude and Appreciation. Bring to mind or write down three things that you feel appreciation or gratitude for each day. There are significant benefits to our physical and emotional wellbeing when we develop a habit of being grateful.
Present Mind Mindfulness – October Newsletter – Gratitude READ HERE
Ask for help. I have found it incredibly useful to remember that “it’s ok not to be ok”. We are all human beings and part of being a human is that we will experience some kind of physical and or emotional pain in our lives. We are not on our own. Accepting that we are feeling fed up, angry, anxious etc and knowing that this is ok can be helpful. We can then ask ourselves “what is it that I need right now?”. Listening to whatever arises may result in us simply taking a pause and resting for a while or practising mindfulness to turn towards the emotions with kindness and compassion; perhaps talking to a friend or a professional or going for a walk in the woods.