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Coping with COVID-19: Self-Care / Wellness ActivitiesBy Melanie White
Life as we know it has changed drastically over the last few months due to the social distancing guidelines and protective measures that have been put in place to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve. Many of us are now working from home, while others have been laid off and have no choice but to rely on government benefits just to make ends meet in the interim. To those who have continued to attend their workplace in order to provide the essential services and products that we all rely on throughout this difficult time- your hard work and dedication does not go unnoticed and many thanks to you for all that you do.
Those of us with children are now wearing multiple hats at the same time and are juggling to balance working full-time from home while caring for and teaching their kids. Our children may be feeling confused, scared, and bored as they no longer have the opportunity to interact with peers in their age group (unless they have a sibling close in age). They are likely missing their friends and extended family (as we all are), as well as the structure of school and/or daycare. Parents who rely on extended family for much needed breaks from parenting every so often no longer have that option. While we can connect with our family and friends via social media platforms, FaceTime, or apps like Zoom it is just not the same as being able to see one another in person (without having to worry about keeping a safe distance and staying inside our invisible bubbles).
Even as the Government of Manitoba unveils the phases of reopening, many are hesitant to return to some semblance of normalcy due to fears of contracting or spreading COVID-19 to loved ones; some of us would prefer to continue to shelter in place and only venture out into the public for essentials, just to err on the side of caution. As the saying goes: it is better to be safe than sorry. We have no idea when life will return to “normal” so it comes as no surprise that during these uncertain times many individuals feel significant amounts of stress or burnout. For those of us who are now spending most of our time at home, this is a great opportunity to make a conscious effort towards incorporating healthy habits into our lives that we don’t typically have time for… self-care.
While simple in theory, self-care is neglected by many and not considered a priority because there “just isn’t enough time” in the day to take care of all of our responsibilities as well as make time for ourselves. But what happens when we forget or refuse to take time for ourselves? After a while we may begin to feel exhausted, irritated, unmotivated, overwhelmed, and just generally unhappy. We put ourselves at risk for falling into negative thinking traps and may find ourselves over (or under) eating, neglecting (or slacking on) our hygiene, having difficulty falling (and staying) asleep, and unable to focus. Engaging in self-care/wellness activities can help nourish us physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Self-care can also be practical (crossing things off or your to-do list) or social (interacting with others). Practicing wellness activities regularly can help us to regain a sense of calm and control over our lives. It can also lead to feeling more relaxed so that we’re able to live in the moment and be present when spending time with loved ones.
Ideally, we should try to do at least one self-care activity per day, but in order to do so we must be intentional and make our own wellness a priority. This may sound impossible but don’t worry; some activities can be done in as little as thirty seconds to five minutes and have no (or minimal) cost. If you’re a parent try to include your children whenever possible, or set up other activities, and practice self-care with or in front of them. Modeling self-care will help your children learn effective coping strategies that they can carry with them into adulthood. Try to choose wellness activities that are of interest to you, as what works for one person may not work for another. For example, someone who is more extroverted may choose to plan an activity that involves getting together with others (which looks different right now), while those of us who are more introverted may feel the need to set aside some time to be
completely alone (which is very difficult these days, unless you live by yourself). If you’re not sure where to start and are looking for some ideas on how you can take better care for yourself, please see the list below for suggestions. The list is not comprehensive, so feel free to get creative, and remember:
¨ Listen to music
¨ Get outside and enjoy the sunshine
¨ Ride a bike
¨ Take a bath (add bubbles or bath bomb for ambiance) or shower
¨ Read a book/magazine
¨ Listen to an audiobook or podcast
¨ Watch a movie
¨ Grow a garden
¨ Look at old photos (or take new ones)
¨ Take a nap/sleep in
¨ Go for a drive
¨ Call a friend (or reconnect with an old one)
¨ Give yourself a manicure/pedicure
¨ Clean a closet/pantry/cupboard
¨ Wear something that makes you feel good
¨ Put on makeup
¨ Play a card or board game
¨ Treat yourself (buy something nice online or get take out/delivery from your favourite restaurant)
¨ Try guided meditation (YouTube has some great videos)
¨ Journal (write down things your grateful for or jot down your emotions)
¨ Pet an animal