By Preksha Banerjee
It’s true that this pandemic has created an abundance of uncertainty, effectively destroying our careful plans and leaving many without a sense of confidence and stability. With so much out of our control, it’s understandable for us to be feeling overwhelmed. But if you’re anything like me, perhaps you’ll find loving yourself is the hardest when you need it the most.
It’s all too easy to practice self-compassion when life is going our way, but times of struggle is when we need to consciously put effort into caring and loving ourselves. After all, nurturing our mental health and well-being is never out of our control. We can always choose to love ourselves and positively impact our environment, even while keeping with social distancing measures.
Here are some small but impactful ways we can all look after ourselves. Remember, life is still happening to us and we still deserve to feel joy.
1. The Power Of Positivity
Positive thinking isn’t just fluff. Science has proven it works. When we constantly focus on the negative, we look for more negatives and this is how we fall into a downward spiral. On the flip side, if we focus on the positives we will look for more positives. This quickly escalates into an overall positive attitude which is a much happier approach to life.
Unfortunately, giving positive thoughts the spotlight is easier said than done for many adults. The generation of our thoughts or emotions are often automatic, and are challenging to manage.
Embracing positive thoughts and redirecting negative ones not only serves to cheer us up and lower our anxiety levels, it also serves a greater purpose of wielding power over our external actions. This can all be achieved by consciously choosing to feel positive and paying more attention to the direction of our thoughts as we create them.
2. Focus On What We Can Control And What Hasn’t Changed
Nothing fuels anxiety quite like sudden change, and our lives have quite frankly, been turned inside out since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. The situations and statistics broadcast on the news may be bleak, but it is important to acknowledge that shifting your focus away from these stress triggers can be crucial to your wellbeing.
Remember that a lot around us has remained the same — your friends and family, for instance. Or perhaps a favourite food or hobby. Putting your focus onto these constants, as I have, can help to calm anxiety significantly. Each morning I remind myself that the sun has still risen like it always has, the birds are still singing and the tulips are continuing to bloom.
3. Establish Gentle Routines
Humans never grow out of our need for routines. Just like children, we thrive in them and even the tiniest routines can anchor us and hold us steady during a storm. This might not be the time to develop a superhuman morning routine that begins at 5am and ends with you knocking out by late afternoon, but it’s certainly the time to place gentle bookmarks throughout your day.
Try to incorporate something that truly feeds you as opposed to simply hopping onto a social media trend and could cease to be trendy after awhile. This could be learning a new language, picking up that sport or trying out that delicious recipe you’ve bookmarked and forgotten. For me, that’s choosing to exercise each day, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Sweating doesn’t look pretty but it definitely feels good and both my body and mental health is thanking me for it.
4. Basic Self-Care
Feeding ourselves well, getting the sleep we need (7 to 9 hours as adults) and moving our bodies in a way that feels good are the pillars of self-care. This golden ratio sounds basic but will do more good than any candlelit bubble bath ever could. So often we neglect the basics when they are exactly what we need. Always start with the basics, before building your personalised self-care rituals from there.
5. Tolerance Through Boundaries
It is completely okay to want to be alone during this troublesome time, even with the implementation of Phase 2. Maintaining boundaries in your friendships and relationships is healthy because your happiness comes first. Don’t try to satisfy and make everyone happy if your peace is being compromised in the process. It’s completely fine to tell your friends/partner that you need some space once in a while.
The global situation may not be in our control, but our mental peace and happiness definitely is. It is completely fine if you aren’t feeling at your most productive, you do not necessarily need to build new skills or create the next greatest invention during a global pandemic. But hey, if doing that is something that motivates and inspires you, then, by all means, go for it! Prioritise yourself, and surround yourself with the people and things you love.
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