Essential Self-Care During COVID-19

The current pandemic has made things far more difficult and stressful for so many of us, which makes self-care more important than ever. But self-care isn’t all bubble baths and facemasks (although these are great), so here are some practical, quick and free ways to incorporate self-care into your busy life.  

1. Practice mindfulness 

It's important to connect with yourself mindfully in this time of stress, you’re not only dealing with other people’s stress you’re also dealing with your own. Mindfulness involves grounding yourself in the present moment, which can help us realign and better cope with what life throws at us. Research has shown that mindfulness meditation is linked to reduced risk of respiratory infection among other health benefits.
Tip: Try starting with a short meditation on the ‘Smiling Mind’ app.  The ‘SOS’ meditation can be done in just 3 minutes and is a great one to do on a quick work break to channel some calm 

2. Stay Connected

Just because you need to be physically distant doesn’t mean you need to be socially distant. Don’t go it alone, make sure you stay connected with friends and family. You may like to video call a family member or have a virtual after work catch up with friends.
Tip: Use the Zoom app to connect with multiple friends, you may even like to organise a virtual trivia night!  

3. Prioritise sleep

Wherever possible ensure you get some shut eye. Research has demonstrated the importance of sleep on brain functioning, one study suggests that in REM sleep our brains recalibrate our emotions so that we function well emotionally the next day. This is increasingly important in times of stress.  
Tip: Try using a few drops of lavender oil on your wrists before sleep for extra calm 

4. Eat well  

In times of stress our body craves sugars and carbs, but it’s even more important in these times that you’re fuelled properly to avoid crashing. Research has demonstrated the importance of diet, with one study showing a significantly increased risk of depression in people who consumed more fast food.
Tip: Checkout’s healthy quick dinner recipe section here

5. Find a moment to move your body  

The last thing you feel like doing after working on your feet all day (or night) is exercise, but the term ‘runners high’ didn’t come about for no reason, exercise makes us feel good! So if you can find a spare 15 minutes for a quick stroll or to run some stairs and work up a sweat it will have a huge impact on your day.
Tip: Chris Hemsworth is offering 6 weeks free of his app ‘Centr’, which has workouts and healthy recipes to try from home!  

6. Do something that brings you joy   

Think of an activity that brings a smile to your face and try and find a few minutes to do it everyday. You might put on your favourite songs and dance around, watch the sunrise out your window while you drink your coffee, cook something that you love, run a bath or read a book before bed. It doesn’t matter what the activity is, just make room for something in your day that brings you joy.
Tip: If you like cute animals the Melbourne Zoo has live cams of their animals here   
Barrett, B., Hayney, M. S., Muller, D., Rakel, D., Ward, A., Obasi, C. N., ... & West, R. (2012). Meditation or exercise for preventing acute respiratory infection: a randomized controlled trial. The Annals of Family Medicine, 10(4), 337-346.
Sánchez-Villegas, A., Toledo, E., De Irala, J., Ruiz-Canela, M., Pla-Vidal, J., & Martínez-González, M. A. (2012). Fast-food and commercial baked goods consumption and the risk of depression. Public health nutrition, 15(3), 424-432.
Goldstein, A. N., & Walker, M. P. (2014). The role of sleep in emotional brain function. Annual review of clinical psychology, 10, 679–708.