Self care: what it is and self care ideas to get you started
We’ve all had a difficult couple of months with the coronavirus and changes to how we live and work. Because of this you might be feeling really stressed, anxious, and finding it hard to sleep, keep up with work, and focus on important tasks.
Just remember: you’re not alone. Experiencing anxiety or stress is a perfectly reasonable reaction to our current situation, and lots of people are feeling exactly the same way.
If you’re looking for ways to manage your symptoms, consider setting up a self care routine that incorporates healthy habits for your mind and body.
What is self care?
Self care activities or techniques are small habits you adopt on a daily or weekly basis that help to combat mental health symptoms. Some of them are more practical, such as attending therapy sessions. Others are about taking time for yourself to indulge your favourite hobbies.
If you’re interested, read on. We’ve put together a list of our favourite self care hints and tips – for more inspiration check out our Selfcare is Healthcare videos on the LloydsPharmacy Facebook.
Self care ideas to add to your routine
Keep your brain active
An active brain is a busy brain, which means those anxious thoughts are less likely to creep in! Set aside time in the day to read a book or article, play a game, do a crossword puzzle, or listen to a podcast.
It can also be fun to take on a creative project – whether it’s painting a still life or doing some DIY.
If you’re able to get outside, you should try to do so every day so you can benefit from the fresh air, exercise and sunlight. Better yet, spend time in a green space such as a park or forest, as this is proven to boost your mental health.
If you’re not able to get outside, try sitting by an open window that looks out on trees and sky. Getting a little sun on your skin will stimulate the production of vitamin D, which keeps the bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet should be something we strive for all the time, but it’s especially important right now. Stuck at home, you might be tempted to survive on cereal, toast and junk food, but – if you can – try to cook proper meals packed with veggies, high-fibre carbohydrates, and lean protein.
Remember, not eating enough can be bad for your mental and physical health – low blood sugar can make you feel tired and irritable – so it’s never a good idea to skip meals.
If you’re feeling low or anxious, getting the motivation to exercise can be really hard. The good news is, you don’t have to go jogging or lift weights to feel the benefit of moving your body. It can be as simple as introducing slightly more activity into your day than you’re used to. Try taking a gentle stroll, doing some yoga, or throwing a ball around with your kids.
The more exercise you can do, the more you’ll feel the benefit. Regular activity is proven to improve your sleep, boost your mood, and help ease feelings of stress and anxiety. Find out more here.
Try relaxation techniques
There are all kinds of relaxation techniques you can try, from meditation, to warm baths, to listening to stress relief music. If you’re struggling to sleep, you can try doing these techniques before you go to bed, as they will help you wind down.
Stay connected with friends and family
If you’re feeling isolated, perhaps because you’re living alone during lockdown, don’t forget there are all kinds of tools at your disposal to help you stay in contact with loved ones. You can use Zoom, Skype, Houseparty, WhatsApp and FaceTime (amongst others) to chat to your favourite people.
And remember, you don’t always have to talk in a big group, especially as this can be quite overwhelming. A one-on-one chat with a friend can be the perfect tonic for times like this.
Keep your home clean and tidy
It may not sound like self care, but pulling on the rubber gloves and having a clean can be a great way to improve your mood. When you’re spending so much time indoors, it’s important that your home environment is clean, comfortable and welcoming.
This guidance from Mind offers further advice on taking care of yourself during the current pandemic. Remember, if you’re really struggling you can still contact your GP by phone or email.