With everything going on in the world right now, we could all use a little self-care. The news headlines are stressful, we are separated from our loved ones, and the idea of a relaxing vacation is out of the question.
If you’re not careful, the overwhelming effects of the global crisis could be seriously damaging to your mental and physical health. High levels of stress can lead to anxiety and depression, as well as worsening the physical effects of other health conditions. It is more important than ever to adopt healthy habits and make an effort to care for yourself, both in body and in mind.
With that in mind, here are ten daily habits that you should be following to ensure you treat yourself with the care and respect you deserve.
1. Create some structure
When you’re stuck at home with no work or social events to attend, all the days seem to blur into one. This can completely sap your motivation and make it hard to get anything done. Why bother getting out of bed or changing out of your pajamas? You need to snap yourself out of this mindset by adding more structure into your day. Even if you have no plans, set your alarm in the morning and make the most of each new day. Plan activities for yourself, even if it’s nothing more than reading, going for a walk or doing a spot of gardening. A sense of routine will keep you grounded and make your life feel more manageable.
2. Connect with people
Socialising is one of the best things we can do for our mental health. Good relationships help to give you a sense of belonging and self-worth while also providing a source of emotional support for when you are finding times tough. Spend some time conversing with friends or family each day, whether that’s in person or over the phone, and you will feel instantly better.
3. Go outside
Nature has an incredible effect on our mental health. Even though we don’t yet have the unrestricted levels of freedom we would like right now, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a walk through the park to enjoy the sights and sounds and smells of nature. Perhaps take the scenic route on your next trip to the shops, or start having your morning coffee in the garden.
4. Get moving
Exercise is not only good for the body. It can also drastically improve your mental health by relieving stress and boosting your confidence and self-esteem. Don’t let the lockdown force you into sedentary habits; there are still plenty of opportunities to get active every day. Whether it’s a brisk walk in the park, a guided yoga session, or one of the many free online workouts available to anyone, you have a vast range of options to get your blood pumping and your sweat flowing.
5. Have a digital detox
It’s a stressful time, and it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the awful events happening all around the world. Gloomy headlines and angry social media debates make you feel worried and anxious, and the constant updates can only be harmful to your mental health. Instead of wallowing in negativity, spend a few hours each day wholly isolated from technology, particularly social media. You will survive the afternoon without checking the news or your Facebook notifications. Use this time to engage in more fulfilling hobbies, spend time with family or take a break all by yourself. Whatever you do with this time, you will no doubt feel the positivity pouring back into your body.
6. Cook something nutritious
Food is fuel for the body, and what you eat directly affects how you function. If you eat poorly all the time, you will feel sluggish and lethargic. But a healthy, balanced diet will make you feel stronger and more energetic. Preparing a nutritious meal for yourself every day is a much healthier alternative to takeaways and microwaveable meals. Not to mention the fact that the act of cooking itself can be hugely therapeutic. Eating a meal that you have prepared yourself is a satisfying and fulfilling experience, particularly if enjoyed with loved ones. If you’re not a connoisseur in the kitchen, it doesn’t have to be anything complicated. There are plenty of simple, affordable and healthy recipes to be found online.
7. Treat yourself
Sometimes you need to experience a bit of pure pleasure to make yourself feel good. Take some time each day to treat yourself to something that makes you happy, without any guilt or judgement. Whatever gives you the most pleasure, whether it’s a hot bath, a few episodes of your favourite Netflix show, or eating ice cream straight out of the tub, do whatever you want to do. Perhaps do some online shopping and treat yourself to a new dress or pair of glasses (take a closer view at some possible new frames here).
8. Follow a self-care routine
Just because you’re not going out and meeting people, that doesn’t mean you should neglect your own self-care. Whatever your regular beauty regime, you can maintain a sense of normality by continuing it throughout lockdown. Looking and feeling good will also boost your self-esteem and make you feel a lot more confident.
If the anxieties and worries of the world are getting to you, a short period of meditation can help you collect your thoughts and dramatically reduce your stress levels. Even just ten minutes a day, either before bed or on waking up, can do wonders. There are plenty of guided meditation apps available to help you get started.
10. Get enough sleep
Spending so much time at home, it is easy to break out of a sensible sleeping pattern, but getting your seven hours a night is essential for good health. A good sleep regime can reset the body, boost your mental health, increase your brain function and give you more energy for the next day. Feel the benefits by going to bed each night at a reasonable time, and refraining from using phones or computers in the hours before you sleep.
By being mindful of your daily habits and making some subtle changes to your daily routine, you will be better equipped to look after your body and mind, and enjoy all the health benefits that come with proper self-care.