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  • Writer's picturePieter Niemann

6 Self Care ideas in the time of Covid-19

Updated: Apr 5, 2023

#6SelfCareTipsDuringCovid to help you prosper and grow, even when the walls start closing in.

In the bizarre times that we live in, in South Africa, we have seen the strict laws come into effect and the strongest resilience was seen of its people. But how do you keep yourself sane in this time of difficulty? Is it even important? The short answer is, YES! It is very important!

Create a Healthy Mind, Body and Environment in Balance.

You'll probably notice that during lockdown you start feeling lazy and maybe even snappy. Some even report that they feel a sensation like a vibration in their body, but nowhere to direct the energy. These are all your body telling you that it is not happy with you being stuck at home.


Some other signs that you may experience could include, but is not limited to:

  • Lethargy (the feeling of not having energy to do something)

  • Sadness or depression (also feeling miserable)

  • Trouble concentrating (your mind seems to also wonder easily)

  • Lack of patients (may resemble feeling/being snappy)

  • Food cravings (often going to the fridge to get something to nibble on)

  • Decreased motivation (may include thoughts like, "it can wait to later" or "I don't feel like it)

  • Difficulty waking (waking up in the morning becomes a task in itself)

  • Frequent napping (or sometimes just feeling tired very often)

  • Hopelessness ("this isn't worth the effort)

It is very important to note that these signs may also be part of other conditions, and if they impact on your ability to function "normally", then it is recommended that you seek out the support of a counsellor or a mental health professional to assist you understanding what it may be, or how to deal with it.


Coping with this

When the lock down blues hit, you need to be able to care for yourself. If these feelings are not that difficult to sit with, then you can take active care of yourself by trying some things in this blog to help you get through it, but if they make you feel like there might be something bigger than just feeling stir-crazy, then it will be a wise idea to speak to a registered mental health practitioner to help you through it.


Healthy diet

It is the strangest part of our existence that gets affected by emotional turmoil. We can range anywhere between overeating and just eating our emotions away, to not being able to eat at all (#stomachknots #emotionaleating #overeating #stalkingthefridge). With this in mind we need to focus on having smaller portions and ensure that it is very healthy and balanced. This food, especially if you struggle to eat, will help nourish you and give you energy to actually do the things you need to, to get through this difficult time (#brainfood #balancediet #energyfood). According to the National Health Service it is recommended that a healthy diet should contain multiple plant based products; have lots of high fibre products; dairy replacements; multiple meat sources as well as products that contain unsaturated fats.


It has been discussed in an article in Nutrino that food made at home may also be healthier than fast food. This is good to know for 3 reasons. 1. Take-away services are limited, and potentially unsafe during this pandemic; 2. It takes more time to prepare, and you spend time being creative and not feeling bored; 3. Gives you a drive, goal, purpose.


Getting out of the house

We all know that it can sometimes seem that the house is getting very small, and that the walls are starting to move in on you. At this point you need to leave your house and venture out into the sometimes scary and unsafe world. It is important to stimulate your brain with the outdoors, and some other spaces. We all know that it is not always legal to set foot outside in this lockdown, but what can help is to take a walk down the street to the shops, if you stay close enough. Rather than driving to the local store, take a walk and take in the views. The open, unrestricted views may help settle the feelings of being locked in. Always remember to wear your mask when you leave your home, and don't forget to wash your hands when you return!


Exercise

It has become a greatly shared experience how people pick up weight or feel unfit as the lockdown has either closed down gyms, or has taken away outdoor activities. But what people do not know is that sometimes the lack of physical activity can be harmful to your mental health. There has been countless studies that has looked at the effects of exercise on mental health and well-being as well as the physical well-being of the person (1; 2; 3; 4; 5).


While we are in this state of lockdown, one is not always sure of what can be done to assist with your physical health. As we already spoke about the necessity for a healthy diet, we need to look at what are the options available to use regarding keeping active. For many a simple walk to the shop will be enough, for others, more "intense" workouts are needed. Luckily in this age of technology, we are privileged enough to be able to download APPs that have multiple exercise programs in it. Many are free, while others have paid versions. But whatever the choice is, you can and should remain active.


Set goals and create structure

Many of us during this time of lockdown has grown accustom to remaining in your PJ's or not leaving your bed. This is fun for the first 5 days, after which it starts feeling the emptiness of "being able" to stay in bed and work from bed, or even staying in your PJ's. It starts feeling like a punishment if you have to get up and do something productive. Most of these sensations are attributed to the lack of structure (like #schedules #goals #bounderies #healthylimits) in your life.


Structure can take many forms. One can be just waking up the same time, following the same morning routine and working in a dedicated space in your home. Structure can also be that you have a set schedule that you follow and stick to. The principles that I have been able to use are ideas like waking up at the same time, eating breakfast and making sure I'm showered and dressed for work. After work hours, I close my work folders and get dressed into comfortable cloths. It's all very simple and it has helped me to feel supported by the structure that I have created. It is important to remember that structure can look very different to each person, but it is just a frame on which you are able to manage your life, time work, and play (#StructureSupportsBeing #Balance #worklifebalance #homeoffice).


The other part is a feeling that nothing has a start or an end, and that everything is just intertwined. That may be the perception as your life may feel stationary, but remember that it isn't. Goal setting can be an easy way to break through the mundane feeling of nothingness. Goals can be about ensuring you drink 8 glasses of water a day. This is simple, yet very effective way to help you feel successful. But goals can also be in terms of choosing to do something instead of not doing it (choosing to get dressed for the day or not). All these goals can follow the SMART goal system. These measurable goals will result in you feeling productive and successful and in tern potentially assist you to do more things that will help you feel more positive.


Help your brain to stay sharp

We all love to binge-watch a series of movies, especially when you are bored. It does seem to be a great distraction to the situation. But most tasks such as that does not need your brain to actually work, and may increase the feelings of depression and isolation or frustration. It has been found that doing activities such as cross-word-puzzles, sudoku, reading or even board games can stimulating your mind and help to keep you moving forward and reduce feelings of isolation and helplessness (1; 2; 3; 4).


Social contact

Although it is still not really possible or safe to venture outside and see or meet up with friends, we must remember that it is very important to stay socially connected. As said before, the technological age has made it relatively easy to remain in contact with people, and even to see their faces, and these technologies are mostly free, cost effective and instant. So make sure to reach out to people as "no man is an island." So even if we need to physically distance ourselves, we need to remain socially connected.


Final thoughts

While it is of utmost importance to remain physically distant from people, let remain socially connected, but remain safe. Let's stay indoors, but keep ourselves not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally safe. Let's always make sure to follow the guidelines and rules that have been put in place by the government to assist to keep ourselves and each other well (#staysafe #TogetherApart). Please ensure to follow the updates posted by the South African Government on the #Covid-19 pandemic with this link.

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