7 Tips for Taking Care of Yourself During a Pandemic
2020 was probably the craziest year we’ve lived through between the pandemic, more evidence of police brutality, forest fires across the US, murder hornets, and the Pentagon releasing classified information about UFO’s. So far, 2021 isn’t looking much better. Thankfully, we can still do our best to make this year our best year yet. Here are some tips to help you navigate taking care of yourself during pandemic life:
1. Know that this too shall pass. While this is probably your first time experiencing a pandemic and it’s overwhelming and scary, try to take comfort in the fact that there have been many pandemics in the past (some worse than the one we’re now experiencing) and humanity has always overcome them. One day, hopefully not too far in the future, Covid-19 will be in the past.
2. Journal and reflect on what you’re experiencing. You’re going through a truly unique and novel experience for your life. It’s completely normal to have sudden mood swings where one day you might be feeling like yourself but the next, you feel awful. That’s totally okay and honestly, to be expected. Something that might help is releasing these feelings onto paper. We don’t always have someone to confide in or maybe they’re going through their own hardships and we don’t want to burden them, which is when journaling makes for the best listener. Even though writing your thoughts down doesn’t change the reality of the pandemic, it can be cathartic to have your feelings out in the world instead of bottled up.
3. Release control. If you’re a Type-A person like me, the lack of control you feel over your situation and the world at large can feel daunting. The lack of certainty and knowing that you don’t have power over what happens flat out sucks. It took me a long time, but once I made peace with the fact that I can’t control Coronavirus or its outcomes, I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Try to release your need to be in control of everything (especially things out of your control) and instead, focus on what you can control. Things that you can control may include: how you respond to situations, what media you consume, who you spend time with, what you nourish your body with, and so on.
4. Invest in your relationships. I think 2020 showed many people what’s worth their time and energy and what’s not, and relationships with those closest to you definitely are. Having a sense of community and loved ones that you can confide in are invaluable, especially during these times of isolation. Investing in your relationships doesn’t mean you have to be face-to-face. I moved to another state at the end of 2019, away from my family, so I completely understand nurturing your relationships when you can’t see your loved ones. Here are some ways you can invest in your relationships without having to see anyone in person:
Write them a thoughtful letter that catches them up on what you’ve been doing and asks them how they’ve been.
Send them a sweet text telling them what you love about them.
Set up a time for a Zoom happy hour, coffee date, or walk.
If you see something small that reminds you of this person (like a book or a trinket), buy it for them and send it to them in the mail.
Start a virtual club with your loved ones whether that be a book club, a cooking night, or a movie night where you all tune in at the same time.
5. Get sunshine and fresh air often. Feeling the sun on your face and the wind through your hair is great whether we’re in a pandemic or not, but recent studies have found a correlation between Vitamin D deficiency and a higher risk of developing Coronavirus. So get outside and feel that sunshine!
6. Move a little every day. If I’m being real, a good amount of my time in 2020 was spent on the couch watching Netflix. Any other couch potatoes around here? I was unmotivated and overwhelmed by the pandemic, so it felt easier to veg out every day. While there’s nothing wrong with relaxing (and you should!), it’s not healthy mentally or physically to sit on the couch all day. Getting physical activity is harder during the pandemic since gyms are closed and we can’t go to workout classes, but any movement is good movement. Take a walk in your neighborhood, go on a hike, visit a park, or ride your bike to get those muscles moving, blood flowing, and your head clearing.
7. Plan for the future. When the pandemic is behind us, what do you want to do? Where do you want to go? It may feel counterproductive to plan for the future right now, but studies show that having something positive to look forward to reduces stress and boosts your mood and that people who have an a vacation coming up are happier than those who don’t. Since you probably have extra time right now, start planning for what you want to do once this pandemic is over! For my husband and I, we’ll be planning our eventual trip to London and Ireland.
I hope you found these tips helpful and I hope you’re taking care of yourself.