Practicing self care in times of uncertainty
During these uncertain times, many people are experiencing higher levels of mental health challenges. It is important to do what we can to help not only ourselves, but also others around us. One of the most important things one can do at this time is to take care of ourselves and encourage others to do the same through the practice of self-care. Encourage your family, friends, and those around you to engage in self-care activities.
Self-care can be different for everyone. How we may have practiced self-care in the past may be challenged right now. As things outside of our control continue to change, we may have to keep adapting.
One of the most basic ways we can improve on our self-care is by establishing a routine. This routine does not need to be anything long or strenuous. Having routines can help to ground us and provide a sense of normalcy. Routines help to ensure our basic needs are being met. To establish a routine, many experts suggest creating one in the morning or in the evening around your typical morning or before sleeping rituals. Getting dressed, brushing your teeth, and bathing are all routines many of us already have. Planning your day can help provide a sense of normalcy and works as a mechanism for self-care.
Taking some time to work on a preexisting or developing a new hobby can also be a way we provide self-care. Some examples of hobbies that many people participate in are writing, reading, drawing, or learning an instrument. Books are readily available online, and a pencil or pen and a piece of scrap paper, such as the back of an envelope or a piece of cardboard, can be just as a much of a masterpiece as a canvas or a sketchbook.
Many people are utilizing mobile devices to accomplish their hobbies, such as learning a new language, brushing up on their marketable skills, and even drawing, painting and coloring. Keeping a journal is something that is great for self-care, as studies have shown that it can help a person work through their emotions and understand them better. In addition, it can be helpful to write down different things that happen throughout the day to help improve memory.
Starting a journal can be difficult at first. Having prompts, addressing entries to people, or even looking into different types of journals people keep can all be helpful in deciding how you would like to journal. But there is no right or wrong way to journal. Some types of journals include gratitude journals, art journals, bullet journals and dream journals.
Taking time to go outside does wonders for a person in regards to self-care. Even if it’s leaving the house to sit on the front porch or walk around the yard or the block, having a chance to have the sun on your skin can help boost your mood and overall outlook. Exercise is also really essential to self-care, as exercise releases endorphins which make us feel good. YouTube and other resources online have great tutorials on how to exercise safely without a gym and without others or typical equipment, and yoga has also been shown to help reduce anxiety, ground people, and help with focus and concentration.
Getting creative with how you work out can be part of the fun. You can even sneak in exercises in your daily routine, such as doing squats while folding laundry, or leg lifts while doing the dishes. You can utilize various things around the house as weights and equipment as well, such as canned goods or a sturdy dining room chair.
Finally, staying connected to each other is vital in this time of uncertainty. Texting, letter writing, and calling people on the phone can be helpful. There are many applications out there for video chatting so that you can see them ‘face-to-face’ while still maintaining social distancing and following federal and state guidelines. The number of calls and video chatting has increased dramatically. Being able to see and hear someone can be very reassuring, particularly for younger people who may have previously only wanted to text.
While the above are great tips on improving your self-care, self-care does look different for everyone. Take some time for yourself, and encourage your loved ones and friends to do the same. In a time where physical touch is risky, hug a pet or a stuffed animal, a pillow, or a favorite blanket and send virtual hugs to one another. Studies have shown that giving yourself a hug by wrapping your arms around yourself can give a similar result to that of receiving a hug from someone else.
Community and Family Resources remains open during this time for prevention, treatment, and mental health services, as well as crisis services. Please visit our website, www.cfrhelps.org and view the documents under the Announcements tab to learn about the precautions being taken during COVID-19 to keep our clients and staff safe.
If you are interested in helping others and would like to learn more about how to assist others in situations regarding mental health and well-being, Community and Family Resources provides free youth and adult Mental Health First Aid trainings to its service area. Counties served by CFR include Boone, Calhoun, Franklin, Hamilton, Humboldt, Pocahontas, Story, Webster, and Wright. In Fiscal Year 2019, CFR offered treatment services to 2,684 individuals and reached 8,075 individuals through prevention services in schools, businesses, and community groups. For additional information, please visit CFR’s website at www.cfrhelps.org or call 515-576-7261.
Lacy Jorgensen is a prevention specialist at Community & Family Resources in Webster City.