7 Ways to Practice Self Care Amidst All the Chaos
Whether it be through exercise or taking a digital detox, taking care of your body and mind is vital in these uncertain times.
These days, it often seems like a feat of productivity and energy to even be awake throughout the day, much less do anything on top of that.
We’re in turbulent, uncertain, unpredictable times: while we still struggle to contain and battle coronavirus, which has no definitive end in sight, our already-toppled world gets an extra shove with the political turbulence surrounding the 2020 Presidential Election. Our bodies and minds simply haven’t had time to evolve and catch up to the jolting reality of the modern world, so it only makes sense that we feel overwhelmed and anxious in some of these high-stress moments.
Luckily, though we may be powerless as individuals to find a vaccine to COVID and cure the pandemic or predict the outcome of the election and instill serenity across the political landscape, there are measures we can take for ourselves and our own peace of body and mind. Though times may be overwhelming and stressful, it’s important to remember to take care of our mental health and physical health during these times more than ever and practice self-care amidst the chaos. Don’t know where to start? We’ve got your back—after all, we’re in this together.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, meditation has been shown in studies to physically change the brain and body to improve health problems and promote health behaviors. There are countless studies showing the helpful effects it has on stress reduction, even having the power to reduce chronic pain, high blood pressure and headaches. Meditation is a centuries-old and well-trusted technique for centering oneself and remaining calm and in the moment (things we could all use a little more of, these days) and is a perfect tool for practicing self-care and mindfulness, even if for only 10 or 20 minutes a day. Whether you’re a seasoned meditation pro or just getting started, there are tons of resources out there to help you get started, including apps such as Headspace and Calm.
If you’re the kind of person who gets the jitters when they’re stressed or anxious, exercise might be your ideal way of coping with everything and practicing self care. Science has proven that aerobic exercise can decrease levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood and even stimulate anti-anxiety effects after only five minutes. So even if you don’t have a lot of time to spare, don’t worry—you don’t have to go to a gym or even whip out those dumbbells. Something as simple as a neighborhood walk/jog or a few climbs up and down the stairs will improve your mood within minutes and provide a healthy distraction from everything else going on.
Talk To Loved Ones
No matter what measures you take to care for yourself, it’s important to have a community of people you feel comfortable talking to heavy issues about. This community might take the form of a therapist, perhaps a family member, maybe even a group chat with your friends. Whatever mode it comes in, part of self-care is often understanding what issues are affecting your mental health and why, and a trusted, understanding group of people you care about can be the perfect support group, especially if you’re all experiencing similar feelings.
Take a Digital Detox
If your phone and social media platforms are where you’re getting most of your anxiety-inducing information, it can be hard to want to put it down. Sometimes, we refresh our Twitter feeds so often that the swiping motion down the screen feels like second nature. Knowing information is out there and not looking at it constantly is difficult, but sometimes necessary to take a step back and relax. Whether you unplug for 10 minutes at a time or an entire day, removing yourself from the digital world behind your screen and the constant flow of information it provides can help you center yourself and ground yourself back in the real world for a bit, giving your brain a break from performing mental gymnastics to wrap itself around the crazy times we’re in.
Do Something You Love
This can be anything, really—baking, playing with your pet, making art, reading a book, whatever provides a little serotonin boost. Sometimes doing the things we love isn’t necessarily what feels productive, so we stray away from it, but we have to keep in mind that these things we love are here to help us and provide an outlet. The pressure to be 100% productive and efficient 100% of the time is misguided and adds so much extra stress and strain to our lives, so taking the time to do things because we want to do them and not because we have to do them reminds us that we’re worth taking the time to self-care about.
If you’re seeking something to take your mind off the political atmosphere right now, what better than an absolute mindless activity that requires absolutely no thought about anything going on in the news? It could be something you’ve been putting off for a while—cleaning your kitchen, hanging that shelf on the wall, organizing your closet. It could be something that takes no effort and provides instant joy—FaceTiming that friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, taking personality quizzes online, making a new playlist to listen to. Whatever mindless task you find, a distraction is good to take your mind off whatever it is your brain finds itself fretting over, especially when there is nothing to be done about it.
Utilize Public Resources
When it comes to self-care, it’s easy to forget that there are public resources set up for us to utilize. It often feels like the responsibility for our mental health is completely our own and has to come from within, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Remember that if you want or need someone to talk to in these stressful times, there are hotlines set up to help. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and like you’d talk to someone for a physical pain, it’s encouraged to talk to someone for any kind of mental strain or ailment, too.
Mental health hotline: 1-800-662-4357
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860
Grief support: 1-650-321-5272