Self Care in a Pandemic -
Updated: Jul 17
By Winner Idowu
The need for total self-care, both the mental and physical health of the individual has never been as evident as it is now.
Self-care during this period of the COVID-19 pandemic may seem like it isn't as important as everything that is going on around you, but it brings a sense of normalcy and stability. It increases our chances of not getting infected and gives us a greater chance of being able to handle stress more effectively. Self-care involves knowing one’s breaking point and working towards not reaching that state. The pandemic makes you more conscious of this breaking point.
The process of self-care is all-encompassing. It comprises of physical and emotional wellness. It is also an intentional process and should be made into a routine. Just like bathing helps to refresh of the body, self-care is for the refreshing of the mind and body.
IMPORTANCE OF SELF CARE
1. Physical Wellness
Though the effect of self-care may not be as pronounced and sudden as you expect it to be, it helps in achieving a state of calmness and relaxation. It reduces the tension in the muscles and makes you feel good. Just as a good massage creates a state of feeling good and light, self-care also does that after mastering the techniques.
2. Emotional Wellness
Stress can make you have a "short fuse", that is, easily reactive to slight provocation. At a moment of heightened stress, you're emotionally vulnerable and if you keep taking it out on those around you, they end up having to walk on eggshells around you; this has strained a lot of relationships. Hence, self-care is important because it takes you out of reach of that breaking point and makes you better able to handle stress.
3. Relationship Enhancement
Self-care helps you to also understand others better. Achieving a relaxed state helps you to understand things from others’ point and this fosters a better relationship with them. Assuming the relaxed posture when talking to someone helps them relax; this is called "Mirroring" in psychology. Someone relaxed in your presence allows for easy communication.
TECHNIQUES FOR BETTER SELF CARE IN A PANDEMIC
1. Eating Healthy
Food provides much-needed nourishment for the body. During periods of stress, people have been reported to cope by eating lots of junk and taking alcohol or other substances which are bad for their health. Eating healthy requires you eating regularly and adequately, it also requires that you do away with junk, excess caffeine and liquor, excess fats and sugary substances.
2. Create routines
Create routines and practise them till they become healthy habits. Take baths, wash your hands regularly (due to the pandemic), deep condition your hair and take care of your nails.
Practising relaxation techniques like meditation and breathing exercises are also needed routines. Meditation on a daily basis strengthens your mental fortitude to handling stress. Meditation also relaxes the muscles.
3. Stay Active
Exercise!!! Exercise increases physical fitness and reduces stress hormones. Daily Exercise is important because it keeps the body in optimum efficiency. In places where the lockdown is still active, exercise indoors. You can also take walks in places where the lockdown has been lifted but maintain the safe distance from others to prevent infection.
Talk to people, check on them. This helps you stay connected to family members, friends and people you love. Talking to someone you love can help you feel good and relax. Share your worries about the pandemic and help each other through it via videocalls, skype, zoom etc.
Sleep gives rest to the body and the mind, a good sleep more so. The pandemic may have interrupted your sleep pattern at one point or another or even presently. To learn more about this, read our article about sleep hygiene.
5. Listen and watch rightly
Watch and listen to news about COVID-19 from credible sources like World Health Organization (WHO). Dispel worries and adhere to instructions given by our health professionals. Also, avoid information “overload” by filtering what you read or learn about the pandemic.
In all, self-care is knowing yourself, what works for you and is efficient in making you relax. I end with these words by William Ellery Channing, “Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict”.