Mind yourself - Self-Care for Self-Isolation
Published on Tuesday, 5 May 2020 12:01 pm by Laura Condon
Communities across Ireland are looking after the most vulnerable in our society by during the Covid-19 crisis by self-isolating, hand-washing and socially distancing. These measures are necessary but the crisis and our collective response to it has triggered the need to focus on self-care to protect our mental health now more than ever.
We need to stay apart, but in isolation, some become disconnected. We can't be at work, but the uncertainty around our income, increases financial stresses. We need to stay home, but home doesn’t feel like a safe haven for all. We need media to follow guidelines to protect each other, but too much news fills us with anxiety and fear.
Most of us, whether we do it consciously or not, have strategies we use to look after our mental health. For some, it’s starting their day with meditation, for others it involves working the day’s stresses out at the gym or spending time with loved ones.
If social distancing has curtailed your usual self-care routine, here are some ideas to continue to look after your mental health:
- Don’t Bottle Up Emotions - We can’t ignore the impact of this “new normal” on our emotions – it’s normal to feel afraid, anxious, angry, sad and frustrated – and it’s important not to bottle those feelings up. If we acknowledge them, we can address them.
- Get Talking – Over the past few weeks, even the most tech-phobic among us are using WhatsApp, Facetime and Zoom to stay connected to family and friends. In times of crisis, humans are driven towards solidarity and togetherness. We can help ourselves and each other by giving each other time to vent how we are feeling – we can’t “fix it”, but there is comfort in solidarity and normalising each others’ experience.
- Consider limiting Media Exposure – If you notice that stress and exhaustion is a consequence of consuming excess news and social media at present, try limiting your exposure. Yes, it’s important to be well-informed to protect ourselves and others but stick to trusted public-health and media sources and take control of your exposure – try muting your social media notifications for a time and set a 30 minute daily limit on consuming coronavirus news.
- Cover the Basics – While the routine of commuting and full days in college and work on hold, it can be easy to allow your usual sleep pattern slip and forget about preparing nourishing meals. It can also be more difficult to sleep if your head is full of worries. Having a self care routine to fill your day can help with preparing your body to rest at night.
- Have a Self-Care Routine – Now there is an opportunity to be creative and try new experiences to support your emotional wellness. If a yoga class usually helps you manage day-to-day stresses, find an online class or test out the hundreds of yoga instructor videos on YouTube. Try Mindfulness to manage stress and anxiety – there are plenty of great apps, like Headspace and Calm, available for free. Set-up scheduled Zoom Dates with family and friends – having something in your schedule to look forward to which brings meaning to day-to-day life. Set yourself a weekly “one new thing” challenge – try out baking, gardening, knitting, calligraphy, drawing, crafting, writing poetry, vlogging – all those things which you never had time for before – you may discover joy and meaning in a new activity which you can hold onto when we return to our busy everyday lives.