Self-Care Strategies for Stressful Times

Feeling overwhelmed by the news cycle, or worried about your own health?

It’s normal during times of chaos to feel out of control and out of your element. In today’s blog post, I’m going to talk about five self-care strategies to take charge of the things you can control so that you can truly boost your immunity (no gimmicks!) and feel better mentally and physically.

Keep Exercising!

My gym closed this week – for me, this was one of those “uh-oh, this is really serious” moments, even more so than seeing empty shelves where toilet paper and hand sanitizer should be.

Maybe your gym is closed, too – if so, remember that exercise is very good for your immunity, so you should definitely keep doing it at home and outdoors!

This is a great time for outdoor walks, runs, and bike rides, as well as in-home workouts (check out my blog post from last week for ideas).

Remember, the virus is transmitted from person to person – it’s not a cloud moving through the air like a sci-fi disease apocalypse. You can get outside and you will be just fine!

Eat your Fruits and Vegetables

Did you forget to panic buy frozen vegetables? No worries – many grocery stores are still stocking fresh produce with no end in sight.

Fruits and vegetables contain helpful nutrients like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and beta-carotene that boost immunity and help to fight illness.

Help yourself to plenty of sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, and red bell peppers, as well as nuts and seeds.

Aim for five servings a day – picture a fruit smoothie for breakfast, a salad with veggies and nuts (and lean protein) with lunch, fruit or carrots for a snack, and a dinner with one or two vegetables at night. You’ll have all your bases covered.

Use the Best Hygiene You’ve Ever Used In Your Life

Of course, most of us are laying pretty low now – with so many businesses and institutions closed, I’m spending more time repeatedly sanitizing my iPad than I am actually washing my hands out in public. But it’s still true that one of the best things you can do to prevent transmission of COVID-19 (other than avoiding large crowded places) is to wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face.

Wash your hands for a full 20 seconds especially after you get home and before you eat. And don’t forget to moisturize, as cracked and dry hands can be susceptible to germs even if you’ve been washing religiously. Plus, they’re just uncomfortable, and more prone to skin issues like eczema!

Stay on a Routine

I know that, for me, the temptation at times like this is to respond to the general chaos by slacking off on my normal routines. Many people in my area have been relegated to work-from-home responsibilities, and most schools in my state will be closing this week. I know I’m not the only one considering working in pajamas.

But did you know that routines have amazing mental and emotional benefits? They are fantastic for mental health, and let’s be honest – we could all use more of that amidst the upheaval of our normal lives.

We don’t know how long these work-from-home schedules are going to last, so it’s worth it to treat this as the “new normal” for a little while.

My tip? Develop a daily schedule that helps you feel accomplished and keeps you engaged. Get up and exercise first, even if it’s 20 minutes on your stationary bike. Shower and dress even if you won’t see anyone. Make a list so that you can cross items off as you accomplish them. Give yourself milestones throughout the day, since you won’t have your usual checkpoints of lunches with co-workers or in-person team meetings.

Turn off the News

While the situation is evolving daily, it’s not necessarily evolving moment by moment. At some point, the constant saturation of scary information is draining instead of helpful. If you’re doing all you can to help prevent the transmission of the virus, what else can you do?

You can take care of yourself and remember that – hopefully sooner rather than later – this pandemic will slow down and de-escalate, and the best thing you can do to prepare for that time is to take care of yourself as a whole person and not just as a potential infectee.

So turn off the news, and leave your phone charging somewhere out of reach for a few minutes! Unplug your brain from the barrage of news and do something like read a book, get into nature, or try a new recipe.

Perhaps the most beautiful moment I experienced this weekend was going for a walk on Sandy Hook, a local beach on the Atlantic. The news coverage was incredibly intense this weekend, but as we walked on the path, I could see from a distance parents playing with their young children on the sand and on the rocks. It gave me such a sense of peace that – ultimately – there’s something bigger than this pandemic.

It reminded me that – for now – this is a big deal. But just because it’s a big deal doesn’t mean it’s literally everything. We can individually do our part, and then we can choose to broaden our field of vision to enjoy the fullness of life even in these stressful times.

Interested in learning more about how the coronavirus could be affecting mental health? Check out BetterHelp’s article on the topic of coronavirus and mental health!

Rachel Trotta

I am a Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, Physique and Bodybuilding Specialist, and Women's Fitness Specialist. I live in New Jersey in the NYC metro area, and I coach clients online all over the world. As a trainer and health writer, my mission is to make healthy living sustainable for the average person. I’m also a wife, mom, nature lover, runner, avid cook, weightlifting aficionado, history nerd, travel addict, and obsessive podcast listener. Get in touch!

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