How to Manage Self-Care During COVID-19
by Stephanie Haywood
Lately, you may have heard a reference or two to Maslov’s Hierarchy of Needs. It’s a simple but powerful psychological idea – before we can focus on creativity, actualization, or even joy, we must focus on survival. Right now, the whole world is stuck at the bottom of this hierarchy: We are all in survival mode. To put it lightly, this isn’t great for us. However, you can make life easier by recognizing this and addressing your survival needs head on. Now is the time to dive into the absolute basics of self-care. Healthy food, regular exercise, and quality sleep will satisfy your mind’s need for safety and routine. Here are some tips for keeping yourself healthy, as well as a few tools for managing difficult emotions right now:
It’s tempting to turn to junk food right now, but try to keep your diet varied and healthy:
- A good diet can lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and more.
- You can also improve mental health by getting all your necessary nutrients. https://foodiestoday.com/24-foods-scientifically-proven-to-help-ease-depression-and-ideas-for-preparing-them/
- Consider trying some make-ahead freezer meals you can eat all week.
- Maximize your weight-loss efforts with a targeted
- Try some healthy snack swaps to satisfy your cravings and your nutritional needs. https://www.womansday.com/health-fitness/nutrition/a33/50-healthy-food-swaps/
- Have groceries or meal kits delivered to reduce your risk of catching COVID-19.
Regular exercise keeps your body working at its best:
- A morning yoga routine can wake your body up.
- Running, walking, or biking through your neighborhood is a safe form of cardio.
- Bodyweight strength routines are great if you don’t have any equipment at home. https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/beginner-body-weight-workout-burn-fat-build-muscle/
A good night’s sleep is an absolute must right now:
- Poor sleep lowers immune function and makes you more stressed out.
- Focus on getting at least eight hours of sleep a night.
- Create a bedtime routine and use good sleep hygiene to get quality rest. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/sleep-hygiene
Be Kind to Yourself
Once you’ve addressed your primal survival needs, you can turn towards nurturing your soul:
- A gratitude journal trains your mind to see the positives.
- Daily mindfulness practice reduces the intensity of depression and anxiety. https://www.mindful.org/meditation/mindfulness-getting-started/
- If you can’t manage on your own, look into teletherapy sessions. https://claritychi.com/what-to-expect-from-teletherapy/
Above all, try not to hold yourself to impossible standards. This is probably not going to be the time you achieve inner peace or write the next great American novel, and that’s okay. Right now, we’re all just doing our best, even when our best isn’t flashy or exciting. Getting to the end of the day feeling mostly okay is pretty phenomenal. Cut yourself a break and focus on the things that give you a sense of security and stability in an unstable world.
Editor’s note: In response to this piece, we received the following link to a discussion about the impact of depression due to multiple depressing realities in the world, including the impact of the pandemic, the election, racial oppression, grief and financial hardship: https://damorementalhealth.com/hybrid-depression/