Self-Care During a Time of Uncertainty

– Written by Negest Atemu, Shelby Purdy, and Allie Flinn, students at the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

COVID19 has changed life as we know it over the past month. As we strive to find a “new normal,” self-care is vitally important. Here are some self-care ideas for you to add to your “tool box.”

Grounding Techniques
With a goal of bringing you to the present moment, the idea is to keep your mind and body connected. Different techniques work for different people…so feel free to give them a try!

  • Take ten slow breaths. Focus your attention fully on each breath, on the way in and on the way out. Say the number of the breath to yourself as you exhale.
  • Notice five things you can see, five things you can hear, and five things you can feel, taste, or smell. Turn your attention to the clothes on your body, whether your arms and legs are covered or not, and the sensation of your clothes as you move in them. Notice how your feet feel to be encased in shoes or socks or resting on the floor.
  • If you are sitting, feel the chair under you and the weight of your body and legs pressing down onto it. Notice the pressure of the chair, or floor, or table against your body and limbs.
  • Stop and listen. Notice and name what sounds you can hear nearby. Start with the closest or loudest sounds. Gradually move your awareness of sounds outward, so you are focusing on what you can hear in the distance.

Sleep
Getting regular sleep and sticking to a sleeping routine is very important. A “sleep hygiene” routine is incredibly important during times of stress.

  • Steer clear of things that normally keep you awake at least 3 hours before bed, including caffeine, electronics, and exercise
  • If you are having racing thoughts, consider writing in a journal for 10 minutes before bed.
  • Consider relaxation techniques before bedtime, such as meditation, a warm bath, and aromatherapy.

Exercise
Not only does exercising regularly help with sleep, it can also help reduce stress, boost mood, and bolster your immune system. While we may not be able to go to the gym right now, there are many other ways to stay active.

  • Cleaning and decluttering your home has the added benefit of exercise. Take short breaks from what you are doing to get active around your house.
  • Nike Training Club has a ton of free workouts you can do from home as well as nutrition guidance from experts.
  • Seven is an app with 7-minute workouts designed to produce the maximum benefit for the shortest amount of time.
  •  30-days of yoga is free and available online on youtube. Yoga instructor Adrienne starts with the yoga basics that progress throughout the month.

Eating Right
It can be really easy to let go of our healthy eating habits during times of stress, but that in itself can effect our mood and our overall health. Now is an excellent time to make home-cooked meals and try new recipes. However, getting food can be difficult for the time being.

  • Walmart, Aldi, and Kroger have a variety of pick-up and delivery options. Consider looking at the store website to see if pick-up is available. Other options include Instacart, Shipt, or Amazon delivery. If delivery windows are full, consider staying up late or waking up early for an increased chance of finding a time that works for you.
  • If pick-up and delivery is not an option, try to head to grocery stores when they open. Most stores are stocking over night, so products are most available in the morning. In addition, stores tend to be less busy. Make sure to keep at least 6 feet between you and other shoppers as much as possible.
  • Many online resources are available for meal planning or recipes. Brows Allrecipes, Yummly, and Epicurious.
Published on April 2, 2020
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