The coronavirus pandemic has impacted our lives personally, financially, and socially to an extent we couldn’t have imagined. We are more isolated, more afraid, and more stressed. During this time period in our lives, self-care becomes more difficult because when you’re bored or stressed out, it’s easy to fall into unhealthy habits and negative patterns. However, it is because of this that self-care becomes more important, and practicing it will make you physically, mentally, and emotionally healthier.
To take care of your body, eat well and exercise. Eat fruits and vegetables and cut down on sugar and caffeine. Instead of scrolling social media and snacking on cookies, exercise daily, either by taking a walk, run, or a class online of yoga, dance, pilates, or aerobics. Make sure some of your activities are outdoors, regardless of the weather. Bundle up and take a brisk walk and notice the nature around you. Exercise will improve your mental health as well as physical health. So will the experience of nature. In addition, if you walk with a friend you will practice safe social interaction, which will boost your mood.
Practicing safe and social-distanced socializing outdoors is a great way to interact with others and feel less isolated, but we have other tools as well. Stay in touch with friends and family via Zoom, Facetime, or other video conferencing programs, and use social media sparingly if its consumption, along with the news, can be distressing. Isolating yourself can lead to anxiety and depression. Although the nature of our interactions is limited, you can still interact and nurture relationships.
When you are feeling worried, think of your relationship with the broad network of society. Make responsible choices—practice social distancing, wear a mask, and wash hands frequently. This way you will avoid guilt or regret. If you are feeling afraid, comfort yourself that you are doing what you can and remind yourself that as a young adult, your illness will most likely be mild. Also, put the pandemic into perspective; namely, that every generation has experienced cultural trauma, such as wars, depressions, and political turmoil. Know that you are not alone. This pandemic is global, and everyone is experiencing the same thing.
Most of all, practice mindfulness, be grateful, and cultivate hope. Breathe in the moment, whether it’s the taste of a good meal or the beauty of the tree outside your window. Be grateful for what you have. Start a routine of writing down three things you are grateful for every day. Finally, have hope that, like everything, this phase will end. Spring always follows winter. Have faith in the future–the tree’s hidden buds, the green grass beneath the snow, the healing that is sure to come.