This unique period of time might be the perfect opportunity to focus on yourself.
We’re living in a strange new world: one where commonplace things — going to the grocery store, for instance — are now fraught with fear. One where the activities that we used to rely on to feel good — yoga classes, dinners with friends and other personal rituals — look very different or are no longer possible.
While this time of social distancing may make our usual self-care practices difficult to carry out, it's more important than ever to make room — no matter how small your quarantine space is — to care for yourself.
It’s crucial to keep up with activities and routines that make you feel good during this tough time, says Lia Avellino, LCSW, psychotherapist and Director of Head & Heart at THE WELL. “Don’t be afraid to give yourself what feels good right now," she advises. "It can be as simple as allowing the sun shining through the window to hit your face or having a conversation with a close friend over FaceTime.”
In fact, self-care is key to staying well. Below, advice from THE WELL’s in-house experts to help you look after yourself in these trying times.
Don’t be afraid to give yourself what feels good right now.
Don't Apply Pressure
We are being inundated with well-intentioned advice from all corners of the internet: the best home workouts to do, ambitious recipes to make, amazing books to read — even college courses you can take online!
But if you’re not feeling up for doing any of those things — for any reason — that's okay. Don’t put pressure on yourself to suddenly transform into an uber-productive, in-shape, Ivy League-educated version of yourself during this stressful time.
A better plan: Look for things you can do to make your life easier, such as:
- Ordering takeout. This not only supports your local restaurants, but it also saves you time. (Here are some of the healthiest options.)
- Having groceries delivered, rather than venturing out to the store.
- Keeping your home clean and in order, without stressing about little messes that might pile up.
Fill Your Home With Soothing Scents
Aromatherapy works — it's science. "Using essential oils is an art and a science that can affect physical, mental and spiritual changes," explains Michelle Gagnon, a bio alchemist who helped create THE WELL’s essential oil-based Self-Care Collection. "Scent is processed in the same part of the brain as memory and emotion, and it can enhance and entice all of the senses."
Now is a great time to indulge in our Relax line of essential oil-based products to tame tension and relax the mind. Diffuse the Essential Oil Blend, moisturize your skin with the Body Oil, or spritz Everything Mist around your space or on your yoga mat.
Give Yourself a Self-Massage
We're all under tension these days (to put it mildly). Whether you're feeling mentally stressed, physically strained or both, a few minutes of massage can help you alleviate anxiety, reduce tension and even boost energy.
To mimic a spa-like massage at home, grab a bottle of THE WELL's sustainably sourced Body Oils, available in three scents — from energizing Rise to soothing Relax. You can do what intuitively feels good or follow these directions for self-massage from WebMD.
- Place your elbows on your desk, allowing your head to drop forward slightly. Massage your neck from your shoulders to the base of your skull using your fingertips to make small deep circles into the muscles on either side of your spine.
- Next, place both hands on the back of your head, interlacing the fingers. Drop your head forward and allow the weight of your elbows to pull your head gently down, stretching the muscles of your neck and those that run down your back.
Lower Back Self-Massage:
- Stand up and put your hands on your waist, with your thumbs behind you and fingers facing forward. Gently press your thumbs into the muscles at either side of the spine (not on the spine itself).
- Keep your thumbs pressed in while you move in a small circular motion. Spend extra time where you find a tender point.
- Move your thumbs gradually, an inch at a time, up either side of the spine as far as your hands can comfortably reach.
- Gradually move back down your back and press on the bony surface of the sacrum.
- Bring your left foot onto the seat of your chair so you can see your instep. Using your right thumb, apply very firm pressure along the side of your foot, working from the heel to the big toe.
- Walk your thumb across the ridge where the toes meet the ball of your foot. When you get to the small toe, use your thumb and index finger to squeeze and twist along the entire surface of the toe. Work each toe individually until you get back to the large toe.
- Take all of your toes in one hand and stretch them back and forth, bending and flexing. While supporting the top of your left foot with your left hand, use the knuckles of your right hand to apply deep pressure to the entire surface of the bottom of your foot, working from the heel to the toes and back down.
- Stretch your toes, flex and extend your feet, and do a few ankle rotations. Repeat the entire process on the right foot.
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Connect With Others
Just because we’re physically distanced doesn’t mean we have to be emotionally or verbally distanced. Get creative with ways to stay in touch with your friends and family:
- Schedule lunch dates with family or friends and eat over video chat.
- Virtual happy hours with colleagues: Put it on your calendar and show up on time!
- Wine and Whine: We all need to vent our anxiety, fear and frustration. Meet up with your friends on Zoom and do it over wine.
- Download the Houseparty app and challenge friends to trivia challenges.
- Single? Dating doesn’t have to end during this time, as Avellino points out in this IGTV video. Schedule some virtual coffee (or drink!) dates, and explore your options. Bonus: Th dress code is totally freestyle.
- Organize your closet with your most stylish friend. Get them on Zoom or FaceTime and ask them to give a thumbs up or down for clothes you’re debating tossing.
Nourish Your Body
Self-care isn’t only about doing what feels good in the moment. Sometimes it’s about doing what you know will feel better in the long run. During this isolating time, it can feel like there are no rules when it comes to eating, but try to eat three meals a day and take proper breaks to eat, says Katrine van Wyk, Lead Health Coach at THE WELL.
To avoid snacking all day long, van Wyk suggests putting snacks and meals in a bowl or on a plate — instead of grabbing and eating straight from the fridge or a bag! “A lot of us have bought in bulk and the house is filled with snacks, so it’s also a good idea to portion these out so you don’t eat everything at once,” she notes.
She also recommends staying hydrated with herbal tea and sparkling water all day long. If possible, create a weekly ”menu” for yourself so you have a general idea of what you will be eating.
Now that our entire lives take place in our homes, it's even more essential to set boundaries with ourselves and with others, Avellino says. "Boundaries actually enrich our relationships by letting people in on our need for space."
For instance, consider sleeping with your phone outside of your room (the bedroom should ideally remain a place for sleep and sex), setting time limits on social-media scrolling, only reading news updates when you have the head and heart space to cope and signing off of email at a designated time.