Self-care in the Midst of a Pandemic
Why is self-care important and how can it improve your health? In the wake of COVID-19, we are seeing a significant rise in stress and worry, which can lead to compromised immune systems and poor health. Dr. Sid Hermosura shares some encouraging tips with us on how to take more control of our health through self-care.
This is a stressful, worrying time, we’re all feeling it on some level. We’re all wondering what will happen next and when things will go back to normal. In this time of uncertainty, there are things we can do to manage our worries and stress.
- Stop checking the news twenty times a day. Every time you check the news, you’re adding to your stress level just a little bit and it adds up throughout the day, on top of the already heightened stress we have with all the changes we’re going through. Instead, try to limit checking the news to three times a day max and cut down on the overall time you’re reading the news. And with that extra time saved, learn and practice mindfulness meditation for free through Insight Timer, Waking Up or headspace.
- Be aware of your news sources. Don’t get your news from social media, panic-stricken friends, or other unreliable sources of information. Stick with reliable sources like the CDC, WHO, John Hopkins, or the Hawaii State Department of Health.
- Practice social distancing, not social isolation. Reach out to family, friends, and your favorite community groups for social contact. Call, Facetime, Zoom, Skype or try Google Hangouts to reduce your isolation. Meaningful and fun connection, emotional support, and healthy problem solving are key to your health and well-being.
- Exercise. Physical activity stimulates the release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These brain chemicals play an important part in regulating your mood, anxiety, sleep, and energy. Yes, your favorite gym might be closed, but a lot of companies and fitness gurus are helping out and offering free classes online.
- Focus on what you can control. There are so many things outside of our control right now, such as when the pandemic will end, how others behave, our government response, and more. Try to focus on what you can control and take action, which is a way to reduce stress and worry. Are you following recommendations to reduce your personal risk? Luckily, there also a lot of resources to help with rent or mortgage payments, getting stimulus package checks, and other things.
- Help others. It’s not a coincidence that those who focus on others in need, especially during times of crises, tend to be happier and healthier than those who act selfishly. You may be helping others and making a different already. Good job! If you want to get move involved with community efforts, visit here for some options.
While these are some key tips, self-care looks different for each person. Find what lifts you up and brings you joy; make more time for that. In this time, it’s especially important to have emotional support and connections with friends and family.
If you think you need to talk with a medical professional, help is available.
Mahalo for reading!
Dr. Sid Hermosura, PsyD is the Director of Behavioral Health at Waimānalo Health Center.