Self-isolation is hard. Yet, that is nothing new. We talked about it already multiple times. Indeed, we discussed how to stay healthy while working from home, some at-home beauty treatments ideas and well as give you 50 ideas of things to do. And yet, self-isolation remains hard. Because sometimes, in an effort to keep busy, stay productive and get used to the lockdown, we may lose sight of something very important: self-care. It is important to pay attention to one's own mental health to cope with self-isolation. Thus, here are ten self-care tips to ensure you take care of yourself during confinement.
Hopefully, those self-care tips will help you cope with the stress that COVID-19 might have induced as well as coping with isolation. Being on your own can be hard, especially if you are a very social person. Although you may enjoy being alone, have some me-time to do whatever you want, knowing that you cannot socialize nor enjoy the outdoors (especially in the city), is what actually can have a huge toll on your mental health. Being cooped up in tiny New York City flats since the beginning of social distancing, we came up with self-care tips that have worked for us, and that we hope, will work for you too!
Ten Self-Care Tips To Help You Cope With Self-Isolation
1. Wash your hands
Remember that washing your hands is very important during this pandemic. Most people that get the virus are asymptomatic. This means that unless they get tested, there is absolutely no way to know who has or hasn't the virus. People themselves will not know. They might contaminate surfaces around them: a doorknob, a mailbox, a parcel, a bottle of wine, etc without even knowing. As the virus has a lifespan of up to several days on certain surfaces, it can transfer to healthy people in no time. Wearing gloves will not be enough if you touch those surfaces and then bring your hands to your face or to take your phone.
People touch their face all the time. It is a reflex. Whether to put a strand of hair behind your ear, to scratch your itchy nose, to rub your eyes, etc. It is already difficult to not touch your face, even more so to stay away from your phone, which can also be harboring the virus. Thus, it is important that first you avoid touching your face when you are outside and that you wash your hands every time you get home, touch a foreign object or go to the toilet. The ideal washing hands exercise lasts twenty seconds and should be thorough enough to clean your hands inside out.
Not the most groundbreaking of all self-care tips but one crucial nonetheless. In general, practicing good hygiene is key to avoid contamination as well as to stay healthy. You should practice good hygiene no matter what, regardless of pandemic and viruses. It is just the best way to avoid catching anything bad and stay healthy.
For those of us that were used to either go the gym multiple times a week or go for a run outside in the evening (or morning), being cooped up inside in self-isolation with no possibility of keeping up with our workout and fitness routine can be hard. The beauty of a gym membership is access to a lot of workout and cardio machines as well as lifting equipment. Chances are, you won't have all you need at home. But that's okay. Because you can still workout at home. It won't be as intense, but it will still keep you in shape and active.
We put together the ultimate home workout routine that does not require any equipment and that can help you carry on with your fitness routine. Whether you are into fitness or not, it is important to try to exercise. It can be anything, from trying our workout routine to having a home yoga session, from using Youtube videos for help to having a little dance once in a while. Since we are staying at home, we are not even commuting to work nor walking outside, which still was exercise. The important thing is to keep moving.
Exercising is also great for your mental health as it produces endorphines, which is great for your mood. It also has other benefits such as reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function. Exercise can also alleviate symptoms such as low self-esteem and social withdrawal. It is great for your body and for your mind.
3. Adopt a balance diet
Since exercising opportunities are not as varied as before the lockdown, what you eat and how you eat can have a big impact on your health and body. Although your diet is yours to choose, it is still better to adopt a balanced diet. Indeed, it has been proven that the food you get really impacts your health, your mood and energy levels. First of all, it is crucial that you drink enough water to stay hydrated. The recommended intake is 1.5L to 2L a day.
During self-isolation, in a time where you cannot spend too much energy since you have to stay at home, it is better to limit your sugar intake. Indeed, consuming fast food, sugar and soft drinks was associated with a higher prevalence of diagnosed attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. You may experience a sugar rush and crash, which will affect your mood, productivity and energy levels.
Too much sugar in your blood will make you tired quickly and the crash that ensues will make you hungry quicker. “Complex carbs,” healthy fats, and protein take longer to digest, satisfy your hunger, and provide a slow, steady stream of energy. Being high in fat and low in fiber, fried and fast food will drain you of your energy since they take longer to digest. Although it does not mean you cannot indulge from time to time, like with everything, it needs to be done with moderation.
4. Get enough sleep
The lockdown has disturbed a lot of people's sleeping pattern. The fact that there aren't markers of time anymore is highly unsettling. Most people had a very established routine paced by their commute and work hours. Now that this is gone, it can be very easy to break out of the routine and completely lose track of hours in the day. In self-isolation, every day feels the same, which is why this tip amongst all our self-care tips is so important.
Not only a good sleeping pattern will help you establish some sort of routine - day and night - but it will also have an impact on your mood and productivity the next day. Getting enough sleep and sleeping well will also impact your mental health for the better. If you have difficulty sleeping, try these Tips for Managing Insomnia or Difficulty Sleeping. To improve your sleep quality, try going to bed at the same time every night. If you need to rest, keep naps to 30 minutes or less.
To ensure you get a good sleep, turn off electronic devices at least one hour before bed and get into a calming activity. Do not drink coffee too late in the day or alcohol too late in the evening. Of course stress can interfere with sleep, but sleep is when your body repairs itself so it is important to create the best sleeping conditions. A good night sleep will always make you in a better mood than a bad night sleep! This is one of those self-care tips you should practice all the time anyway.
5. Stay in touch
Social distancing and self-isolation made it difficult to see family and friends. To avoid spreading the virus, people need to keep to themselves. However, it can be very hard for your mental health to not talk with anyone. Loneliness can have a huge toll on a person, especially in stressful times like these. Sure, a virtual meeting will not have the same impact as speaking face-to-face but it will still help.
As human beings are social creatures, they need to interact with others. Which is why staying in touch is one of our most important self-care tips. There are plenty of ways to keep in touch with others: Skype, WhatsApp, Google Hangout, Zoom, etc. Many softwares allow you to have a conference call with your friends or family. While it will feel good to speak with people, see their faces, engage with other and break the loneliness, your loved ones will feel reassured to know how you are doing.
Think about vulnerable people who might be having a particularly tough time; a phone call can make a huge difference to their and your wellbeing. Plus, those virtual meetings can be used for many other fun activities together like a virtual cocktail night or a virtual movie marathon. You may not be all in the same room enjoying cocktails or live commenting on the movies, but it will sure feel like it!
6. Switch off social media
Social media is the best and yet the worst. Being socially connected to others can ease stress, anxiety, and depression, boost self-worth, provide comfort and joy, and prevent loneliness. It is a great way to stay in touch with others, even friends that are very far away. However, unrealistic body and lifestyle standards as well as pressures caused by and addiction to social media can have a huge toll on one's mental health. Moderation is what makes the difference.
In times likes those, staying away from social media is great for self-care. We are constantly bombarded with information about the pandemic. Whether good or bad, whether true or not. It is a constant flow of news, which may impact our well-being. Update on the virus spread can send your anxiety levels through the roof. Don't you feel that a weight lifts and that you are much calmer when the news is not in your face?
It is good to stay current on the news, the state of the pandemic and how the situation evolves. However, it is not something you need to be doing all the time. Once or twice a day at best. Otherwise, stay away from your phone. Not only is it better for your eyes, for your sleep quality but also for your general mood and mental health. Taking a break can be a much needed breach of air.
7. Do activities that you enjoy
Something very important for self-care is letting yourself rest and do things you enjoy. For some people, it will be getting into a very intense at-home workout routine. Some other will indulge in baking or cocktail making. People may try new things, like yoga, or maybe pilates, coloring or reading. It does not matter what you do as long as you like it.
This is one self-care tips that not only will reduce your stress and anxiety levels, improve your mental health, but will also keep you busy and make the days go by faster. It is important to keep your mind occupied so that you are distracted from all stress inducing sources. Plus, if you enjoy what you are doing, time will go faster, you will be more relaxed and soothed. Calming activities are great to improve your sleep quality and reduce your anxiety.
Although getting bored is great for creativity and to develop your imagination, too much of it can make the days feel much longer. Reading is a great way to keep busy, let your mind escape somewhere amazing and get you ready for bed. Video games are also great for your energy levels and for some excitement during the day. You may also learn a new skill if you're in the right mind for it and use that time to better yourself. It is all up to you.
8. Listen to your body
One of the most important self-care tips. In times like those, it is very important that you do not force yourself to do anything. Those are incredible, unusual and highly unsettling times. We are all in a situation we have no control over, that we are not used to and somedays, if we don't feel like doing anything, then that is fine. If your mood in not great one day, you do not feel like doing anything, your back hurts, you have low motivation, etc. It does not matter what it is. What matters is that your body is telling you something...
...and that you should listen to it. Self-isolation is hard for everybody. It can have a huge toll on your health, both physical and mental, can lower your energy levels, etc. On those days, listen to what your body is saying. It is always right. That sort of days always happens for a reason. The reason being, take a break and focus on self-care. Because that is what will make a difference and get you back on your feet.
So what if is it the middle of the week? It does not matter. Take a break, take a deep breath, close your eyes, relax. And indulge in something that is calming to you. You can't focus today? Well, stop doing what you are doing and watch a movie! Having a slow day will not interfere with your work quality nor productivity. But it will be great for your well-being and help you cope with self-isolation. Always listen to your body.
9. Express yourself
A lot of people have taken to social media to express themselves and help cope with self-isolation. Although social media should be used with moderation to ensure it does not worsen your mental health, it still is a great tool to express your feelings. Burying how you feel deep inside of you will only lead to frustration and probably a big cry. Thus, it is important to you let things out on a regular basis.
You can take a pen and put things on paper. Or start blogging, capturing videos or get into journaling. You may also give a call to a friend or your parents. Anything that works for you. The important is that you stay kind to yourself and accept that you have feelings accumulating that needs to be let out. Speaking up your feelings will help you get control over them and have a clean slate.
As human beings, we can only keep inside of us so much. The expression actually so perfectly describes it. We are like a vase that fills and fills until the last drop makes it overflow. Speak up and do it often.
10. Do not feel guilty over lack of productivity
Finally, of all our self-care tips, it is crucial that you do not chastise yourself should you not be productive every single day. First of all, productivity comes and goes. Whether you are in self-isolation and in normal times, it is always gonna be like that. Some days you will accomplish a lot, some other you will not. That's how it is for everyone and that is fine. What matters most remains the quality of your work. No point forcing yourself to work until late if in the end you do not produce anything of quality.
We are well aware of the hustle culture so widely encouraged on social media. Basically, if you do not use that time productively to create something amazing, launch your own business, make money, learn a new skill, you are loser and wasting your time. Do not ever believe that it is true. If people want to work and work and work during self-isolation, good for them. However, if you do not feel like it, then do not force yourself into doing it. Ignore those people. Listen to your body and focus on your well-being and self-care.
This is not a productivity contest. This is a pandemic, a highly unsettling time, which is having a huge toll on many people. For those who were working in an office prior to this, you are not working from home. You are forced to work at home because a virus is spreading all across the world. There is a difference. Thus, it is okay to be stress, feel anxious and not always be productive. You would not always be 100% productive in your office anyway. So give it a rest and do not ever feel guilty if you are not productive every single day.
What matter most is your mental health, what you do for self-care that works for you, and that you feel good. The quality of your work will not be impacted should you work an hour less one day or call it quit. However, it will if you force yourself while not having the right state of mind for it nor being productive. It's not about quantity, but quality. It is not about working hard, but working smart. And again, this is a pandemic, not a productivity contest.
We hope those self-care tips will help you cope with self-isolation, improve your well-being and mental health. This won't last forever, but better get on with social distancing, practice good self-care and be ready for when normal life resumes.