Self-Care During and After the Pandemic
Rev. Dr. Kitty Boitnott, NBCT, RScP
Heart-Centered Career Transition and Job Search Coach | Stress Management and Sleep Science Coach
The last couple of months have been tough. They have been hard on all of us mentally, emotionally, and physically, and spiritually.
That's just a fact. Everything ground to a halt, practically overnight. And our lives were disrupted in ways we could never imagine might happen.
Unless you were able to work from home or were considered an essential worker, you might have stopped getting paid. Financial pressures can mount over time.
And that adds to the other pressures.
It is important that you take care of yourself all the time, but it is especially important during times of heightened stress. And once we start to come into Phase I of our economic opening, it will continue to be important for you to take care of yourself.
People often think that self-care is separate from the basics of taking care of yourself. They think of self-care as getting massages or going for spa days. But self-care is far more fundamental than that. Self-care is about taking care of your body, your mind, your emotions, and your spirit.
There is no point in getting a massage if you’re not getting enough sleep every night. Likewise, exercising at the gym once a week isn’t going to do much good if you are raiding the refrigerator every night gorging on junk food.
Taking care of your basic needs is the first step to self-care and relieving your stress.
Self-care is acting in a way that will promote your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. To overcome life’s stressors we have to build resilience.
And you can’t have resilience without practicing self-care every day.
Unfortunately, many of us look at self-care as a luxury. It’s something that "other people" do. It’s not a priority because you’re not one of those people who has the time or money to invest in self-care. Massages are expensive. So are spa treatments.
But self-care is about the basics. Are you eating well? Do you drink enough water? Are you getting enough sleep? If not, you feel tired all the time. You may often feel overwhelmed. You may feel that you are unable to deal with the challenges and changes that life throws at you.
There are acts of self-care to cover every area of your life and some of them are outlined below:
You have to take care of your body. It isn't an option that you can choose to overlook.
And don’t forget the link between your mind and body. Acting in your body’s best interests will enhance your mental health, too.
Physical self-care isn’t just about exercise, either. What food you choose to eat is important to your physical self-care.
Getting the sleep you need is critical. And looking after yourself medically as well is important. If you need to see the doctor, don't put it off. You just make things worse when you do.
How you think influences your mental well-being. Pay attention to your thoughts. Are you generally positive? Or are you a complainer because you see everything in a negative light?
Your outlook is important and you can choose to be positive or negative.
You also need to keep your mind sharp. You can do that by completing puzzles and reading books. Watch content that inspires you and sparks your creativity. Choose things that will help you stay healthy mentally. That also means practicing self-acceptance and compassion for yourself.
Are you making enough time for the activities that stimulate you mentally? Are you being proactive about staying healthy mentally?
Your social health requires self-care, too. Yet, it’s often one of the easiest aspects of our lives to ignore. Life gets busy, it’s hard to keep up.
It’s crucial to your overall health and well-being that you maintain close connections.
You may have had a hard time keeping up your social life in the flesh in recent months. But I hope you have stayed connected virtually. I know I have been in touch virtually with my family for a birthday and Mother's Day. I have hosted two Happy Hours, and I am attending my Toastmasters meetings more regularly than I probably would otherwise.
I know the virtual connection isn't as good as the physical one. But it beats nothing, don't you think?
It is important for you not to neglect the spiritual side of yourself.
And when I speak of your spiritual life, I don't necessarily mean religion.
The reason we have so many religious denominations is that people can't seem to agree on a lot when it comes to religious beliefs and doctrines.
The one thing most religious bodies agree on whether they are Christian, Jewish, or Buddhists, however, is a belief in a higher power.
Most of us feel that there is some power greater than each of us--a spiritual force--that we feel at an intuitive level. We can't touch it. We can't see it. But we can feel it.
So, if you want to practice self-care, find a spiritual practice that works for you and nurture it.
We all need to have coping skills to address negative emotions. Sadness, anxiety, and anger are natural parts of life. But they will cause you lots of hurt if you don't learn to manage them and develop healthy coping mechanisms.
You can practice emotional self-care by doing activities that address your emotions. If you feel that talking it out with a therapist would help, do that. There is no stigma in that. If you can't afford a therapist, find help in some other way. But don't neglect your emotional well-being.
When considering emotional self-care, think about how you process your emotions. What activities make you feel recharged? What makes you laugh? What makes you sad? What makes you angry?
We all have feelings.
The difference between being a mature adult and an immature adult lies in how we manage those feelings.
We have all been anxious during the time of the pandemic. And that's a natural reaction. We don't like uncertainty, after all. And we worry about what we hear in the news which is often contradictory.
I have chosen to look at this time as one of opportunity as opposed to one of challenge.
If this situation has made you rethink your career choices or you realize that you don't have a job to go back to, this is a good time to think about what you want to do.
What is YOUR dream job?
And is it really just a dream or could you make it happen with a little help?