The work of self-care: Everyone's new "job" during COVID-19
Have you ever gotten a new job and felt… uncertain? Unskilled? Unfamiliar?
Perhaps similar feelings are emerging right now as we come to terms with living and working from home (as much as possible) during this COVID-19 crisis?
Self-care for optimal good health is on deck for all of us as we do our parts to help flatten the curve of exposure and minimize the risk of this coronavirus spreading.
What is self-care, specifically?
Self-care can look different for each and every person. It’s not all bubble baths and manicures, (though a soak, trim, and paint do sound nice sometimes). The term gets tossed about everywhere, so before we do anything else, let's clarify.
According to Oxford, self-care is:
“The practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's own health.”
And it’s also defined as…
“The practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.”
Sounds reasonable, yes?
Especially now? Heck, yes.
What does science say about self-care?
This research study followed participants for a 4-month period: 2 months as a “control” period, and the following 2 months participants entered a physical exercise routine. The findings during the 2 months where participants exercised regularly were that “During the regulatory exercise phase, participants also reported significant decreases in perceived stress, emotional distress, smoking, alcohol and caffeine consumption, and an increase in healthy eating, emotional control, maintenance of household chores, attendance to commitments, monitoring of spending, and an improvement in study habits.”
So, exercise can help equip us to manage stress and other self-regulating behaviors better, per this study. Based on the decreased stress and emotional distress noted, an improved outlook seems like it would figure in too. Sign us up!
But what about you?
How are you feeling about your self-care routine now that we’re a few weeks in?
Is it different every day? It might feel like your capacity is different every day.
We’d like to affirm that is this reasonable, especially right now. No one has ever been here or done this before.
We are all learning as we go.
And of course, all this is doubled if you’re experiencing new symptoms of perimenopause or menopause.
It’s time to slow down, even when you don’t want to, or don’t feel skilled at slowing down.
It’s time for more support, not less. Gennev is your online, women’s health clinic. Learn more.
Getting familiar and feeling confident in new skills takes practice, even around some of what might be considered as the basic self-care activities. Self-care is made up of myriad practices! Break them down and learn them, take your time and give yourself the grace to feel unfamiliar… you won’t feel this way forever.
In fact, with care and attention, you’ll likely feel better.
You ready? Take a look and try these out:
Water, for the win
Dehydration happens when water is not replenished in the body. We need water for every cell in our body so systems, tissues, and organs can do the body’s work of… well, functioning. Continual replenishment of good clean water definitely counts as excellent care.
Move it, move it
Made for motion, our bodies and minds thrive with regular stretching, muscle-building, and exertion to the point of increased heartbeat and even some sweat… cardio, anyone? A little extra or a little different movement can spark momentum and endorphins for better feelings and an improved sense of well being.
Spice up your current movement strategy or exercise plan with a new stretch, or a new component to your regular routine. Jump rope, sketch a chalk hopscotch outline and play, pick up the pace on your run with a few sprints, or tackle a new hill on your walk. Variety can give your body and mind more to work with during your workout or even a gentle stroll.
Afternoon naps for everyone!
What do we mean by, “nap”? Quiet time. Rest. Heck, even sleep, if that comes naturally. What if a daily rest period were a part of your regular routine? Only you can say for how long. And the length of the quiet time, or nap, may be something that changes and flexes day-to-day.
For a few minutes? Yes, this qualifies.
For an hour? Sure, if it makes sense, is needed, and doesn’t disrupt you or your household’s current sleep schedule.
Sleep is not “required” (though it could happen!); quiet and restful time is the intention. Meditation could feel restful if you’re up for practicing. A few stretches at the beginning and at the end might feel really good and help to transition both in and out of this quiet time.
A reminder: this is a highly stressful, unprecedented time. Sleep planning, hygiene, and relaxation are part of balance and self-care. You may need a little practice in order to acclimate and begin to feel skilled in this. Who knows, a gentle, flexible resting time during the day may help with your nighttime sleep routine as well.
What have you got to lose in trying more conscious elements of self-care?
Test drive one or all and see how you feel. We’re hoping that “better” is part of your results.
Join the community and ongoing conversations about menopause, midlife, self-care, and balance: Gennev Community Forums. You’re always invited.
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