The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting social isolation have meant a lot more alone time for many Americans. Some have used the extra downtime to pick up new hobbies, complete home improvement projects or get in better physical shape.
But experts are warning of the heavy emotional and psychological toll that extended periods of isolation can take. Mental health researchers recommend that those in quarantine balance productivity with rest and self care.
Self care can be defined as any deliberate action taken to improve one’s physical, mental or emotional health. It can take many forms and looks different from person to person.
Some forms of self-care are simple, such as eating healthy foods, getting plenty of rest, practicing good hygiene and exercising regularly.
But what happens when your normal forms of self care just aren’t cutting it? When you feel lonely, depressed or anxious despite your best efforts to be kind to yourself and your body?
Here are 10 creative ways to practice self-care during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Dress up. Restaurants may be closed and group gatherings discouraged, but it can be a nice change of pace to dress up like you’re going out on the town. Try a fancy dinner at home with takeout food and your finest duds.
- Pamper yourself. Try turning your house into a spa for the night. Light some candles, take a warm bath, play some soft music and focus on accepting and loving yourself just as you are.
- Journal. Keeping a written or video journal is a great form of self-care. Expressing your thoughts and feelings on a regular basis can prevent them from building up and causing resentment.
- Call your friends. Staying in social connection is extremely important during times of stress and crisis. Reach out to your friends and family on a daily basis—even if it’s just a short message—to maintain your close connections.
- Try an ice bath or cold shower. Cold exposure can help reduce inflammation and support your nervous system. It also helps strengthen your vagus nerve, which can reduce stress and the effects of stress on the body.
- Help someone else. Whether it’s volunteering, donating or raising awareness, helping someone in need or supporting a cause you believe in can boost your mood and energy.
- Reduce screen time. Try taking a day off from social media, television and your computer. This can allow your nervous system to take a break from processing information and gives your eyes a rest as well.
- Stretch. The body can store emotion and stress in areas such as the hips and shoulders. By stretching, massaging and breathing into these areas you can relieve tension.
- Get Creative. Creativity can unlock different areas of the brain and get us in touch with our hearts. Try creating something small—like a sketch or poem—and work your way up from there.
- Try professional help. Mental health professionals can be extremely helpful and beneficial. Even if you don’t feel like you “need” a professional, giving it a try could pleasantly surprise you.