It goes without saying that we’re living in unprecedented times. Many of us are forced to hunker down at home with no way of knowing when we’ll be able to go back to our regular routine. Our new normal now consists of working from home, working out at home, finding ways to keep ourselves preoccupied at home—pretty much-doing everything at home.
While staying at home for an extended period seems easy in theory, it actually has an unspoken toll on most people: loneliness. As noted by The New York Times, all the shelter-in-place orders carried across the world can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. Humans are naturally social beings and when we suddenly experience a lack of proximity to others, our bodies react accordingly. A study published in PLOS Medicine revealed that lacking any social connection is akin to smoking up to 15 cigarettes per day.
Now that we’re most likely going to continue staying at home in the foreseeable future, it’s vital that you take extra good care of yourself to keep your physical and mental health in check. We’ve already shared a list of ‘Self Care’ tips you can refer to, but here are some more essential self-care tactics that can help you weather the crisis:
Take breaks from consuming news stories.
While it’s important to keep up with the news to get the latest updates concerning the pandemic, you shouldn’t expose yourself to it 24/7 as it may be detrimental to your mental health. Psychology Today notes that chronic exposure to news may only result in incurring vicarious trauma or PTSD. Constantly hearing about the situation can be upsetting, so make it a point to take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media.
Find ways to connect with other people.
Social distancing does not equate to social isolation. According to the Harvard Health Blog, you should make it a priority to stay connected with your friends and family, even if you’re all far away from each other. This could mean having virtual dinner parties, engaging in online lessons with friends, or even just having a simple chat over video calls to catch up. Since loneliness and isolation can only exacerbate anxiety and depression, it’s important that you maintain your connection with the people close to you as best as you can and reach out for support whenever you need it.
Sometimes, even taking quick breathers can help with your anxiety. Pain Free Working recommends the following breathing exercises for dealing with stress:
1) deep breathing, which entails leaning back on a chair, placing your left hand on your chest and your right on your belly, breathing in through the nose, letting your belly fill with air, then breathing out through your nose for five consecutive times; and
2) 4-7-8 breathing technique, which involves placing your feet flat on the ground, sitting up with your back straight, breathing in through your nose for a count of 4, holding for a count of 7, then releasing your breath forcefully for a count of 8. Be sure to press your tongue on the ridge behind your two front teeth when you breathe out.
Allow yourself to be a little “gross.”
It may seem absurd, but Self notes that letting yourself be “gross” is another way of self-care. That could mean showering less, eating weird food (and in bed, no less), and letting your brows and peach fuzz grow unruly. Now is not the time to allow socially acceptable behaviours to dictate your life, so from time to time, don’t be afraid to be gross—whatever your definition of gross is.
Remember that this is a hard time for everyone, and you’re not alone in feeling anxious and afraid. But as long as you take care of yourself and cut yourself some slack, you can get through it all.
Written for NoPanic.org.uk
By Rona James
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