/ Lifestyle

Practice self-care at home during COVID-19

In light of these uncertain times, it’s never been more important to take care of yourself – inside and out. Stay healthy, stay positive and know there are things you can do to improve your well-being, without leaving your home or breaking the bank.

It’s normal not to feel normal during these abnormal times. No, that’s not a tongue twister – it’s an acknowledgement that the strange context we’re living in is a cause of anxiety and stress for many people. You’re at home, away from the people you usually connect with, and when you go to the grocery store shelves are bare and lineups are long. When you feel your life has gone completely out of whack, it’s important to take a moment and focus on yourself.

You’ve probably heard the word “self-care” before, and maybe even thought about applying it to your life, but after weeks of social distancing (or even self-isolating), with no end in sight, now is absolutely the time to start practicing it. Obviously in our current context we’re not talking yoga retreats or salon visits; with the financial uncertainty many Canadians are facing right now, the time is ripe for affordable (read: free), at-home self-care methods. You can even share these with your partner, kids, family members and friends – even if only remotely.

Here are six self-care strategies to help keep you feeling positive during our new “normal”:

1) Start an affirmation practice

“I can do this.” “I am healthy.” “I will recover.” “I am smart.” “I am strong.” All of these statements are examples of affirmations – kind things you can say about yourself to buoy yourself up during difficult times. Try saying an affirmation (anything positive about yourself) at least once a day.

Saying something kind to yourself can help displace negative or critical thoughts inside your head; if those thoughts start to creep up throughout the day, try repeating your affirmation. If nothing else, it’s a positive voice; kindness to yourself goes a long way.

2) Savour small, “delicious” moments

Yes, your house might be crazy, or lonely, ear-deafeningly loud or perhaps far too silent, but throughout your day there are probably still warm, quiet, gentle moments that make you feel good inside. Whether it’s the sunlight coming through your window, your pet stretching out on the couch, an unexpected laugh, a good meal shared with family or the coziness of your bed at night, positive moments still exist all around you and are simply waiting to be enjoyed like a delicious cookie.

When you’re experiencing something good, even if it’s fleeting, do yourself a favour and really experience it. Think to yourself what a good moment it is. Breathe it in, feel the warmth on your skin, taste that cookie – whatever it is, really focus on the good of it. Be present in that moment; don’t think about when it will end or what you’ll do next. Studies show that the act of savouring positive experiences helps boost happiness and can help you stay up when times are getting you down .

3) 10-minute time (for yourself)

Have you heard of 10-minute time before? 10 minutes is the perfect amount of time to spend doing an activity; when you’re finished, you’ve done it for long enough to have fully invested yourself, but not so long that you’re eating into the rest of your day. Set a timer for 10 minutes of self-care, and spend it on something that rejuvenates you. Maybe try:

  • Doing nothing – Nothing. Zip. Nada. Sit on the couch, don’t turn on the news and don’t look at your phone. Yes, you might feel a little odd or bored at first, but just ease into it. Lay back or close your eyes if you want. Think about whatever you want to, or don’t think at all. Welcome to meditation.
  • Journaling – You don’t have to write about anything in particular, but simply writing about your day or whatever comes to mind is an exercise in self-reflection. The time you take to pause and explore yourself will help you release any pent-up stress you’ve been holding on to.
  • Stretching – Stretching or mild exercise like yoga can act as a reset button for your day. Take slow breaths and move along with your inhales and exhales. Do what feels good for you today.

4) Connect with family and friends virtually

One of the most valuable things social distancing has brought us is greater awareness of virtual connection. Yes, you may have always been able to FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, video call (etc.) with family and friends, but did you make the time to? If you’re feeling down, don’t hesitate to connect with someone virtually. Chances are they’d love the break in their normal routine too.

If you’re not sure what to chat about, maybe you want to arrange a remote activity instead. Challenge friends to online trivia, do a board game remotely, bake cookies at the same time while you’re on the phone together, try a new recipe, build forts and send pictures to each other – whatever it is, just because you’re in separate houses doesn’t mean you’re alone. Virtual connection might be just what you need to overcome a ‘down’ day of social distancing.

5) Take a walk outside and use the rule of 5

While we are mostly encouraged to stay at home, going for walks with immediate family and pets is one way you can get out of the house. When you go out, you combine three amazing self-care activities to help you feel grounded and present. Make sure you encourage your kids to partake as well!

  • Walking – Getting physical can help you reduce any pent-up stress. Let go of whatever negative feelings you’ve been holding onto, take a few deep breaths and just feel your body move – even if it’s for only a couple of minutes. You’ll feel clearer-headed in no time.
  • Going outside – If you can make your walk an outdoor walk, you’ll be all the better for it. Simply being outside can help you de-stress. Whether you’re headed around the block, through your neighborhood or in a park, forest or field, your body relaxes faster when you’re outdoors.
  • Try the rule of 5 – this is a great tool for when you’re feeling low. While you’re walking, take a moment to acknowledge:
    • 5 things you can see around you (a tree, a street sign, a bird, etc.)
    • 4 things you can hear (from traffic noises to bird songs)
    • 3 things you can feel (your feet on the ground, a dog leash in your hand, etc.)
    • 2 things you can smell (warm earth? A barbeque?)
    • 1 thing you can taste (maybe that coffee you just enjoyed?)

6) Take care of a plant

If you’re at home with kids, you may be thinking “another thing I have to take care of!? No way!” but hold on– taking care of a plant can actually help you cope during times of stress.

Even if you only have 30 seconds a day to water and trim your plant, you’ll be doing something positive for yourself and your environment. When you take care of a plant, you’re forced to look away from your computer or other screen for a moment and be present enough to notice things about it: is your plant dry? Is the soil too wet? Is that a new leaf!?

Not only will you be purifying the air and contributing positively to your environment, but caring for a plant can also help you:

  • Feel calm and focused
  • Recuperate faster (there’s a reason we send flowers to people when they’re in the hospital!)
  • Stay in-tune with your surroundings, leading to less stress

On top of these activities, you can absolutely practice self-care by exercising, eating right, meditating and doing almost anything else that brings you joy and well-being. From meditation apps to YouTube yoga, there are many methods for taking care of yourself at home on a budget, now and any time. Remember: self-care is necessary, not a luxury. With these affordable and quick tricks, there’s no excuse for letting your self-care fall by the wayside.

Oh, and our other favourite self-care tip? Care for your financial well-being – yes, it can be a form of self-care too. You, along with many other Canadians, may be experiencing financial uncertainty in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are, taking a moment to understand your financial situation and make a plan to reduce any negative impact to your credit score can help you feel more settled and secure.

If you’ve been financially impacted by COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease), we’re here to help. Fairstone offers loans solutions to help with unexpected expenses, bill consolidation and more. Please call your local branch to discuss your options with a Lending Specialist or click here for more information.