As we ride this wave of uncertainty, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and stressed. Exhaustion can set in and our physical and mental health can be compromised. Self-care is one of the best things you can do to stay well during this trying time.
During any crisis or significant change, self-care is one of the first things to go. Between juggling work commitments, remote learning, childcare (or lack of) and the wellbeing of your family, often people neglect to look after themselves. Perhaps it’s because you feel there are limited hours in the day or the needs of others are more important. Maybe you feel selfish if you take time out to focus on yourself while so many people are struggling.
In reality, prioritising your own self-care will help you be there for others at your best. Filling your own cup up or putting on your oxygen mask first, will actually increase your capacity to serve those you love. We also know being exhausted and heightened stress levels leave you more vulnerable to illness and injury where potentially you can’t carry out any of your tasks on your never-ending to-do list.
While spas, beauty salons and gyms are closed as we embark on another round of stage 3 restrictions, there are plenty of things you can do to look after your own wellbeing during this trying time.
Start a gratitude journal or jar
Practicing gratitude is a beautiful exercise to identify the good things that happen in your life, even if they are small. The simple act of appreciation can help pull you out of the negative thought cycle. It could be the extra squeeze your child gave you this morning, the moment of sunshine or the health care workers on the front line.
At the start or end of each day, write one or two things down that you’re thankful for. You could put it in a journal or on a little piece of paper and place it in the jar. When you are facing a tough day, look back on some of the moments that have filled you up with gratitude to help put things in perspective.
One of the first physical reactions to stress and emotional turmoil is the tensing of our muscles and ligaments. For you this may be tightness in the shoulders or pain in the lower back as we hold onto these emotions. Spending 10-15 minutes a day stretching can help you manage those aches and pains. Using a roller or massage ball can also make this more effective by helping to reduce your fight or flight response.
If you haven’t already, pop into our clinic and pick yourself up a cork massage ball or roller to aid your stretch routine.
Swap Netflix for a book
It’s okay to switch off and binge watch Netflix from time to time, but you don’t often feel the same sense of accomplishment from finishing a TV series as you do a good book. If you haven’t already, get a list together of the books you’ve been meaning to read or dust off that stack sitting unopened on your bedside table. Just a chapter or two a day can help transport you to another world, quieten your mind or bring you a sense of reward at the end of the day.
Run yourself a bath
An Epsom Salt bath not only will help to calm your mind but also help to relax your muscles, releasing any tension you’ve subconsciously been holding onto. Make it a special practice – light a few candles, put on some calming music, burn essential oils and grab a good book. And don’t forget to close the door for complete peace!
You can fill up your container of Epson Salts and Magnesium at our clinics.
Make a habit of meditation practice
Meditation is often one of those things we tend to put off, especially when busy. While it can be a time of chaos, it’s the ideal practice to help to calm your stress response and quieten the mind. If you’re new to the practice, we recommend the 1 Giant Mind 12 Step Course to learn to meditate. Before you know it, mindfulness practice will be part of your everyday life.
Switch off from the news
Over saturation of COVID-19 related media can raise your stress levels and deepen your sense of gloom. Set yourself some limitations for when and for how long you read or watch the news. If you’re an avid social media user, you may wish to extend these boundaries to your favourite platforms too.
Get a remedial massage
You may not be able to attend a spa, health retreat or beauty salon but you can still receive a remedial massage with an Osteopath to help relieve those aches and pains. Why don’t you book an appointment at our Manifold Heights or Ocean Grove clinic today?!
Sit in the sunshine
Sunny days during winter months are few and far between. If you do spot the sun breaking through the clouds, make the most of it and sit with a warm cuppa and a good book – even for 15 minutes. Vitamin D deficiency is closely associated with poor mental health and unfortunately a large portion of Australians, especially those in the South, are deficient in this nutrient. If you are vitamin D deficient, taking a quality supplement is vital for your overall health. Contact our Nutritionist, Sarah Appleford for recommendations and dosages.
Yes, the gyms are closed and group bootcamps are put on hold. Depending on the restrictions, you may even be limited to what you can do outdoors and for how long. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate some form of movement in your day and it doesn’t have to be a heart-pumping HIIT session. Think yoga in your living room, a brisk walk, body weight exercises or a cycle around your neighbourhood. Isolation and stress, coupled with less movement, can exacerbate your low mood and anxiety so it’s important to focus on what you can do to move more during this time.
If you’re concerned about injuries or stuck for exercises suitable for you, book a tele-health consult with our Exercise Physiologist, Sarah Healy.
Everyone is feeling a level of sadness and a sense of uncertainty at the moment. Being isolated and away from friends and family can be extremely challenging. And while you may not be able to see them face to face, technology has offered us the opportunity to connect in other ways. A simple text to check in on a loved one, a zoom dinner or the sharing of photos can be enough to brighten up ones day.
If you find yourself struggling and feel like you need to talk to an impartial person, reach out for professional help. At Whole Body Health & Wellness, we have a psychologist and clinical psychologist in our team. You can also find plenty of valuable mental health resources for adults and children here.
Grounding, otherwise known as earthing, is an exercise that may help to release built-up static electrons absorbed by the body into the earth’s surface. There are many benefits of walking or standing bare foot on the earth’s surface from regulating cortisol levels and reducing inflammation to improving sleep and minimising pain. So go on, kick you shoes off and stand on the grass or sand.
Walk in nature
You may feel like you want to snuggle under the doona and hide until it’s all over. But that can worsen your negative emotions and feelings of overwhelm. Instead, get outside and go for a walk in nature whether that’s a park, along the beach or beside a river. Find somewhere you can disconnect from the hustle and bustle and just be.
Nourish with whole foods
Yes, the chocolate, alcohol or pizza may be giving you instant gratification, but eating your emotions doesn’t hold up long term. Make one or two achievable changes to your diet that will work towards nourishing your body. Try drinking more water or making a homemade meal instead of relying on convenience foods. Focus on adding whole foods into the diet to slowly crowd out those that aren’t going to support your overall health and wellbeing.
Be kind to yourself
Acknowledge your feelings and if you’re exhausted, take a break to breathe. Don’t beat yourself for feeling what you feel. If you’re burning the candle at both ends, perhaps it’s time to be kind to yourself rather than solider on. This is a time to show yourself some self-compassion.