2020 has been an unprecedented year. From contentious elections to a global pandemic. Every facet of life has changed from how we socialize to how we work. Human beings are adaptable and resilient, and Americans have done the best they can to cope. As the end of an exhausting and isolating year is coming towards an end, I am wondering…have you checked in on yourself lately?
What is self-care and why is it important to take time to do it? Self-care is about shifting focus from the stress in our life to stop and think about our health; both emotional and physical. It is often the case when we become overwhelmed by everyday life, we become less attuned with ourselves. Our mental and physical health can go on the back burner because we are fighting the most immediate stress in our lives. Allowing time to check in on ourselves can allow us to better cope with current stress and better face future stress.
Here are a few ways to check in on yourself:
Are you staying hydrated?
We wake up in the morning dehydrated and for many the first thing they do when they wake up is have a cup of coffee which further dehydrates us. This can cause us to start our day feeling foggy. Start your day by chugging a couple glasses of water as soon as you wake up, drink a cup of water for each cup of coffee, and continue to drink water though the day.
Want to make tracking your water consumption more fun? Plant Nanny is available free in the app store. The app reminds you to drink water regularly and it has a gaming component that has you drinking and tracking your water consumption to keep your plant alive.
How is your sleep?
We all want to make the most of the 24 hours we get each day. Sometimes we sacrifice sleep to knock a few mores things off the to-do list. But just remember even Olympic athletes know the power of sleep. Read here on 5 Olympian sleep secrets. Sleep should be a priority and it may come easier if you create a bedtime routine.
The pandemic has changed so much about our lives. Including the way we work. For many, their homes have become their office, their gym, and the place they try to relax. Not having dedicated space for each can weigh on us emotionally and potentially impact our sleep. If possible, create a separate space for working and sleeping. If you work and sleep in the same room, being able to see your work materials may keep your mind awake. This video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snAhsXyO3Ck) uses the analogy of a rocket ship to explain how important dividing our spaces up (including for sleep) in this pandemic are.
A few more suggestions on getting better sleep:
· Put lavender oil on your pillow before lying down to sleep. University of Maryland Medical Center confirms that research indicates lavender has calming, soothing and sedative effects upon inhalation (read more on lavender from UMMC here: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/lavender)
· Turn off your TV! Even better, remove the tv from your bedroom altogether. You do not want to stimulate your mind right before you want to turn it off.
· So, you are not falling asleep to the TV, but you do not want to be in silence? Apps like Rain Noise can create simulated thunderstorms to ease you to sleep. Or even better turn on the Sleep With Me Podcast; a podcast self-described as, “…a bedtime story for grownups, just interesting enough for you to forget your problems but boring enough to put you to sleep.” A boring podcast sounds like an oxymoron, but with a 5-star rating and 1,397 reviews, it is clearly putting listeners happily to sleep.
Are you saying no enough?
Maybe you are working on your sleep and taking care of yourself, but you cannot figure out why you still feel so overwhelmed. It might be time to ask yourself, “Am I saying no to others enough”? We cannot increase the number of hours we have in each day, so it is important to clarify with yourself what your priorities are. We increase our quality of life by being able to spend our time doing what is most important to us.
Of course, we cannot say no to many of our job or family duties. But we say yes to many things we really want to say no to. Developing the skill of saying no creates more quality to your life and allows you to spend your time doing those things that truly matter to you.
The author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success (Find a synopsis of the book here) explains how to say no and why it isn’t selfish to do so. Watch the video here.
Are you practicing mindfulness, even if it is just for a few minutes a day?
You may not feel you have enough time in the day to add a mindfulness practice, but you can slip in a quick meditation during a work break or before you start your day. Try one of these apps that offer guided meditations as short as two minutes:
· Headspace You can choose meditations from 2- 60 minutes. So, even if you only have two minutes you can fit it in.
· Stop, Breathe & Think also has short meditations for all levels.
If you are so time crunched you cannot even spare 2-10 minutes this Huffington Post article highlights 9 ways to sneak mindfulness into daily activities you are already required to do like your household chores.
Self-care can start with small changes. It does not have to be an overhaul of your life. Just keep reminding yourself:
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” -Anne Lamott