21 June 2020

Self Care During Difficult Times

Looking after yourself.
lifestyle, blogger, looking after yourself, flowers, field, wildflower
Now more than ever it is important to look after ourselves. We have all been affected in some way by the pandemic, the world feels unfamiliar and the news is overwhelming. Be gentle with yourself, allow yourself to move carefully and slowly where needed, and take breaks. Below, I've rounded up some of the ways I look after myself during times of difficulty. These tips aren't the usual picture of self-care - no candles, no baths, no face masks (although indulge in these as much as needed!) I chose these are they are simple, free and work for me.

Delete social media
Take a break from Instagram. 

For me, scrolling through social media can be mindless and time-consuming at it's best. At it's worst, social media is overwhelming, addictive and exacerbates my negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity. So when I don't feel my best, I delete social media apps and re-install when I'm feeling more positive. Taking a break clears some of my cluttered head space and makes me realise how much I instinctively go to the space on my phone where the app was previously installed.

I realise that sometimes it's not possible to delete social media from your phone as you use it for work or for other reasons. I'd advise to reduce and make better use of your time on social media by:
1. Setting time limits on your phone e.g. half an hour a day. On iPhone, this function is under Settings - Screen Time - App Limits
2. Unfollowing accounts that are having a negative effect on you. Don't hesitate.
3. Where you can't unfollow specific accounts (maybe it's a friend's/family member's account), go to their profile to "Hide" their story and posts.

Get outdoors
Fresh air and daylight

Getting daylight each day is important for vitamin D intake, it is mood-boosting and it contributes to good sleep. Fresh air is great for sleep as well and I find that going for a short walk can help clear the mind when I'm feeling stressed or overwhelmed. I try to take a walk or sit outside for at least 20 minutes every day.

Move
Be gentle with yourself and your body

I hated P.E. in school and the thought of participating any type of competitive or team sport still terrifies me. Teenage me would never believe that I willingly exercise on a regular basis. But now I realise that exercise and sport are two different things. I exercise on my terms, with no competition or teammates, at my own pace and in my own way. When I am feeling my best, I exercise regularly and feel better for it BUT when I'm having an off-day (these crop up a lot at the moment) I don't feel like ab crunches and cardio. So I don't do it.

Instead, I aim to include more gentle movement - such as yoga or going on a walk. Yoga with Adriene has been a resource I use daily in lockdown - I'd highly recommend her morning yoga videos or her 30 Days of Yoga. Taking time out of the day to breathe, move and stretch the body makes me feel calmer and more at peace.

Rituals
Prioritise your routine

Having set routines in your day - whether it is your morning or skincare or tea-making routine - is important to keep up and prioritise. Your rituals are personal, calming and during a time of uncertainty they can provide a sense of normalcy and care. They don't need to be long and complicated, but making time for them without distraction is key. Most important for me is my skincare routine before bed, as it is calming and sets the tone before I go to sleep.

I think part of the reason that the above tips work for me, is that they all contribute to reducing screen time. In the current climate, we are on screens more than ever before with our Zoom meetings, Netflix and working from home, so I try to avoid screens where I can. Activities like cooking, having a bath, reading a book or magazine, and organising my space are the various ways I stay off screens. Reducing screen-time will improve sleep, give your eyes and skin a break from blue light, and is proven to increase productivity.

Let me know your tips for reducing screen time and what you prioritise when looking after yourself in the comments below.
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