By Anne Peters, LMFT
Greetings! I hope you have all found time to care for yourself this week. Boy, do we need it. The news continues to provide us with highs and lows, but it feels like the lows have been much more persistent. We are in unprecedented times within our nation. Now more than ever, it’s important for us to care for ourselves. We talk often about how we are caring for our children, our parents, our neighbors, and all our loved ones, but it’s time we focus on ourselves. Let’s talk self-care!
1. Fresh air: Step outside, take some deep breaths, and go on a walk. Look for small details – find the tallest tree, listen for birds chirping and try to get them in your sight, and stop and smell the roses (or lilacs, or lilies). Nature is healing.
2. Connect: Social distancing is rough, especially when it comes to distancing ourselves from our support system. Get out your favorite electronic device and connect with someone! Face-to-face is the next best thing, so give someone a Skype call!
3. Submerse yourself in a book or movie: Pick a comedy or easy-read fiction and dive right in. Reading or watching a movie gives us a chance to “escape” the stresses in life and get away in our minds. I recommend Emily Giffin – she’s a personal favorite author of mine! I’ve watched Bridemaids more than once during this pandemic. What’s your favorite comedy?
4. Take a “time out” from news and social media: I’m guilty of wanting to be “in the know” of all things COVID-19. Although this is OK sometimes, we all need a break. Give yourself a specific time period that you will not look at social media or the news, and abide by it! I turn it all off by 8 p.m.
5. Mindfulness: Mindfulness is all about being present; noticing where you are right now, in this moment, and not thinking about what happened yesterday, or worrying about what tomorrow might bring. Just focusing on the here and now. Luckily, there are apps that can be downloaded to help guide you into a mindful state of mind. You will notice your anxiety symptoms decrease after a few mindfulness activities. A couple of my favorite apps are Calm and Mindspace.
6. Play with a pet: If you read my introduction post, you know this coping skill is my go-to! It’s been scientifically proven that simply petting our animals causes our brains to calm. Give your pet a cuddle or play a game of fetch outside. Fresh air AND your pet – win, win!
7. Clean/organize: We are now spending every hour of our day at home, so now’s as good a time as any to get that garage cleaned up or closet cleaned out. It gets our minds on something else and gives us instant gratification. The feeling of seeing your hard work paying off – priceless.
8. Journal: We are in an unprecedented time. We have not experienced anything like this and will hopefully never again within our lifetime. Journaling holds two purposes: It allows us to really reflect on how our lives are affected, but it also provides us with a snapshot in time of our experience and resilience.
9. Craft/create: Let those creative juices flow and create a masterpiece! Art has a way of allowing us to express ourselves. Give yourself the opportunity to repaint that dresser or put your sewing skills to the test and sew some masks for your local healthcare providers. Try something new and be creative.
10. Laugh: Mayo Clinic shares that laughter fires up then cools down our stress response, giving us a relaxed and calm feeling. The after effects of a good dose of laughter are lower blood pressure, increased circulation, lower heart rate, and muscle relaxation. My family and I always turn to America’s Funniest Home Videos when a good laugh is needed. What’s your go-to for a good laugh?
It’s so important to care for yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so what do you do for yourself to keep your cup full? Share your ideas with us by emailing April.Howe@LSIowa.org!