Um…Happy New Year? We are embarking on a New Year that is yet again, filled with uncertainty. Maybe I was being overly optimistic, but I really thought that by the time the summer ended, we would have also seen the end of the Global Pandemic. These days, I can’t keep up with current guidelines that seem to change weekly. Despite the fact that everyone in my family is fully vaccinated, we are still taking the same precautions as BV (Before Vaccine). Breakthroughs, despite vaccination status are happening, meaning you can definitely contract one of the large family of coronaviruses.
Regardless of who you are, the chances are high that the Global Pandemic has impacted your life. It’s emotionally exhausting to deal with all the “extras” that come with living through this. If you worked in a large corporate office, you probably now work from home, and your office may be in a cold, cluttered basement. If you have children who are 20 months old or 20 years old, their school and schedule has been impacted. If you are a social butterfly, you are missing your friends. If you are a homebody I suspect life hasn’t changed much for you and maybe you guys have been on to something this whole time. Congrats.
I’m a glass full kinda gal. But I’m not sure how much more I can take of my husband working from home. I love Kerry. But Kerry has one volume on his conference calls. L.O.U.D. I’ve literally sat him down and told him that he needs to find a Starbucks or a Library or a place with WiFi so I can be alone in our home. Let someone else holler at him to be quiet.
Dealing with Pandemic Stress
Whatever your situation, the “extras” that come with a pandemic means that there is stress involved. I’ve become more aware about my own stress levels and decided that 2022 is the year for self care. So what exactly does self care mean? To me, it means that you are making a purposeful decision to do something good for yourself. It could be anything from lighting a fire and getting lost in the flickering flames, to reading for pleasure or taking steps towards a healthier you.
Self care is a new concept for me, the most I would ever indulge in is a mani/pedi once a month but that isn’t self care. Self care is actually a daily routine. Self care is best defined as anything you do to take care of yourself so you can stay physically, mentally, and emotionally well. Its benefits are better physical, mental and emotional health and overall well being. In summary, practicing self care makes you better equipped to manage stress.
Top 10 Ways to Practice Self Care
Did you skip over the word “practice” above? Getting into a daily routine of self care takes practice. Our goal is to make self care a habit, something that you do everyday, and that eventually becomes a normal part of your life. Below, I’ve listed some of the ways that I like to practice self care, but there are definitely some of them that require practice in order to master. Meditation, Journaling and Drinking Water are examples of self care that take time to master. The suggestions below are just a jumping off point, you can do some of them everyday, or rotate and do one per day – except the water which I urge you to do daily!
Below is a list of 10 Self Care Ideas to get you motivated:
1. Mediate – Learning how to mediate is more helpful if you use an app, like Breethe (BTW, I am not being sponsored for this mention). This app offers a selection of free, short (3-minute) mediation series that are guided and tell you exactly what to do. It does of course, offer In-app purchases for more in-depth breathing, mediation, and sleep inducing practices.
2. Get a Massage or Facial – One of the best ways to relive stress is through the body. I recently signed up for a monthly facials at Glow Bar in Westport, and I could not be more addicted. It is a 30-minute facial but it feels longer and the first time I had one, I almost fell asleep, it was that relaxing. I love the alone time and the added benefits of a customized facial for my skin type so I look and feel my best.
3. Exercise – The thought of going to the gym and using equipment is not for me, but I will sign up for a two-hour badminton class that leaves me sweaty and breathless. I will do sports, I will not do elliptical. Check out your local community center or YMCA for adult classes that get you moving. However, the best, simplest and least expensive way to get great exercise is to walk in the fresh air and sunshine.
4. Drink Water – I drink 8 glasses of water a day. It is absolutely imperative to keep your body hydrated! Being hydrated protects your body’s organs and tissues, it helps carry nutrients and oxygen to cells, lessens the burden on the kidneys and liver by flushing out waste products and lubricates joints – just to name a few. The other major benefits to drinking lots of water is that it helps promote weight loss. As I mentioned above, upping your water intake requires practice. My friends make fun of me because I have a reminder on my iPhone that reminds me to drink every 3 hours.
5. Journal – I’ve read my fair share of books on how to be successful, they range from You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero to Atomic Habits by James Clear. Time and time again, almost all of the books that I have read mention the importance of journaling every day. Journaling does not mean that you need to fill an entire page with your thoughts (although you are most welcome to do so), journaling can be as little as one word about what you are grateful for or one sentence about what you want to accomplish today. My journaling usually involves a list of “house-keeping” things that I want to do, and major goals that I want to accomplish, like publishing a book. Journaling makes you pause, collect your thoughts and slow down. Getting your thoughts out of your body and down on paper reduces tension and eases stress.
6. Light a Fire or a Candle – We’ve lived in our home for twenty plus years. I remember telling the realtor that a fireplace was mandatory. However, despite my insistence of having a fireplace, the most we ever used it was once or twice a year with those logs wrapped in paper that you buy in the supermarket. So lame. A couple of years ago we bought cords of firewood and it has been a game changer. It makes our home feel so cozy and of course, it makes me want to sit down forcing me to relax and unwind. If you don’t have a fireplace here’s what to do: Make yourself some hot tea, grab a cozy blanket, nestle in your favorite spot, and light a candle. Even a small flickering candle evokes a sense of warmth and beauty.
7. Read – Reading for pleasure is one of the best ways to take care of yourself. There is nothing like getting lost in a great book and forgetting about life for awhile. If you are looking for some book ideas, here is my book club’s list for 2022: The Little Friend by Donna Tartt, The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan, Harlem Shuffle by Colston Whitehead, Good Neighbors by Sarah Langan, The Topeka School by Ben Lerner, It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover, The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni, The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty by Anderson Cooper.
8. Bring on the Humor – I read somewhere that watching something light hearted or funny before you go to sleep is one of the best ways to de-stress. My husband on the other hand can watch the Red Wedding episode from The Game of Thrones and sleep like a baby. What do I watch to help me relax? Literally any baking show, The Repair Shop, Emily in Paris, Schitt’s Creek (watched twice) and I just started Jane the Virgin!
9. Declutter – The beginning of the year is one of best times to get rid of unwanted stuff and it feels sooooooo good. Start with something as simple as your refrigerator and freezer by checking all the expiration labels. Move to your pantry next. I typically do this on the day before garbage day, and make it a goal to toss anything that has expired or has too little left in the jar or bottle to save. Getting acquainted with our household food also helps create a shopping list so I can restock and don’t over buy.
10. Take a Hot Bath – We have a wonderful, deep soaker tub that was used daily when the kiddos were little. Once they got old enough to shower, that has become the preferred way to get squeaky clean. The number one reason I don’t take baths is lack of time and guilt. I cannot justify filling a tub with gallons of hot water if I can’t soak in it for 30-minutes or more. On a recent solo trip to the South West, my hotel had a wonderful bathroom with a deep tub and the first thing I did was fill it to the brim and add the bath salts that were on the hotel’s amenity tray. I forgot how relaxed my muscles get and how amazing my skin feels after a bath. For me, the key to a hot bath is a long soak and sometimes this needs to be scheduled. Pick one day a week, like a Sunday morning when hopefully things are moving at a slower pace and there are less demands on your time.
Below is a checklist that I hope you will find helpful, it includes 30 ideas of Self Care practices that you can start today! If you are local to Fairfield County, and want to exercise Self Care #16, I own a floral studio and can hook you up with beautiful blooms, visit my website here: Fresh Flower Bar