Surviving another lockdown through self-care
With another lockdown starting, there is another possible wave of panic, fear, depression and mental health struggles coming. Although we cannot avoid a reaction to what is going on, we can make a few small changes that are within our control to help us manage our feelings.
Self-care is important because it helps us to balance our feelings. I will look into a few general areas where we can practise self-care, but every person will have their own areas that they can add.
It is important to remember before reading this, that our bodies are reacting to what is going on because it is meant to tell you when you are in danger or when things aren't normal.
People often think only those doing exercise and following a healthy diet are in this category, but keeping up with medication like anti-depressants etc is also self-care. Other important ideas include; taking a long warm bath, having a good hygiene routine and not skipping showers.
Dressing well every day even if you are not going out, can help you to feel better. Turning off devices and taking a break from media and news is something that helps me personally. I will even go as far as leaving my phone in a separate room when I go to bed and not looking at my phone for at least an hour before bedtime.
Hugging those around you more often can help too.
Self-awareness is always a good place to start. Stopping and reflecting on why we feel a certain way can help us to realise that we are having a normal reaction to something that is not normal. But it is never acceptable to act out bad behaviour or use what is happening to lash out on others. Reflection and self-awareness are meant to help us to understand that we might be feeling powerless, we need a time out and that we can’t expect the feeling to go away by harming others.
What are you feeling?
Using our senses will help to ground us in the present and avoid thoughts and feelings spiralling out of control. For example, think of what you are feeling right now. Are you warm or cold? Maybe you are exactly the right temperature. When you are in the shower, focus on the feeling of the water spraying onto your skin.
What can you hear?
Think of what you can hear; can you hear birds or children, or is it silent? What are you seeing? Perhaps you can hear music playing or you can imagine hearing your favourite song. Can you notice something in front of you that you might never have noticed before?
What can you taste?
What are you tasting or saying? Maybe you are aware of having your mouth tightly shut and not uttering a sound. There is no right or wrong. Everything is just as it should be.
What can you smell?
Can you smell something? Perhaps you are burning a candle or you can smell food. If you can’t smell anything, what would you like to smell?
Involving our senses in an activity like finger painting is also a good example of physical self-care.
Telling yourself that whatever you are feeling is alright and that even the hardest emotions will come and go. Nothing lasts forever: no pain, no sadness, no frustration. Nothing. Everything comes and goes.
When you feel in need of something, use kind words with yourself. Instead of telling yourself that you are needy for instance, allow yourself the kindness that you have needs. Every person does. No human is without needs.
Many people find comfort in prayer or knowing that we are part of a world that is bigger than us. Certain things are within our control and certain things are not and it is helpful to let go of the things that are not within our control.
Being connected to others can be spiritual self-care. If you can’t be with those you love now, try and imagine getting a hug from them. Try and imagine the feeling of their arms around you.
Arts fall into this category too. Create something: it can be something small like baking a cake or something big like a self-portrait.
Write down the story of your life - the story of what dreams you had for yourself and what advice you would give your younger self. Write down the areas of your life you would like to work on. Write down a list of things you can do in the present that will help you have the life you want in five years.
Be creative in finding ways that suit you. Not everyone likes a bath. Not everyone likes to be outside or to go for a walk. But try to do five things a day that will help you stay as healthy as you can be.
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