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As the pandemic endures, you’re probably feeling just as stressed as most Americans are. You miss living your “normal” life, although it may be hard to even remember what that was like by now.

Social distancing and spending a substantial amount of time at home may be getting to you. If you live with others, whether a partner and/or children, the closeness may prove a challenge.

In cases like these, when an external stressor has been sticking around for so long, even the concept of self-care may have fallen to the side. Perhaps there are things you know help you deal with stress, but you feel too overwhelmed and discouraged to put them into practice. But it’s important to implement self-care as we move further into 2021. It can work wonders.

Whether you previously focused on self-care or haven’t yet done so, these tips are a great place to start.

Care for Your Body

Because our physical body, thoughts, and emotions are so deeply connected, taking care of our physical body can help us feel better emotionally as well. Winter naturally turns many of us inward, seeking comfort and calm.

If the pandemic and the cold days are leaving you with a chill, it’s important to still take care of yourself. Here are some ideas:

  • Set small goals for physical activity, even a short walk, mini-yoga session, or doing a workout video.
  • Nurture healthy sleeping habits. If you’re struggling with insomnia, learn about guidelines for sleep hygiene. Aim for a fully night’s rest every night.
  • Avoid using alcohol, drugs, or food as ways to cope.
  • Maintain good hygiene and get out of your pajamas, even if you are working from home.

Create and Maintain a Routine

The pandemic has led to the loss of so much of what used to give our lives structure and routine. Going to work and school, time at the gym, regular gatherings with family and friends, and daily stops at the coffee shop are among these.

But even without these familiar touch points of routine, it’s still vital to create structure for your day and week. Get up and go to bed on a regular schedule. Stick to regular meals. Create new routines if you can: family Zoom call every Monday, cook a new dish on Wednesdays, movie night on Saturday, etc.

Laughter and Play

Therapists and other medical providers have long known that incorporating laughter and play into your life is a great stress reliever. What can you do to create more joy and fun in your life at this time?

It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Watch comedies. Make a list of funny family stories. Call or video chat with a friend who always makes you laugh. If you have pets or children in the house, make playing with them a priority. Turn up some energetic music and dance around your living area. Try silly board games. You get the idea.

Care for Your Mind and Soul

A large part of self-care involves learning how to calm and soothe ourselves during times of stress. One way is to cut out or limit those sources of stress to the best of our abilities. You might do this by restricting how much news coverage you watch. Play calm music. Take a break from social media or negative influences.

Look for other ways to create calm in your life. Consider exercise, breathing exercises, and other small but meaningful rituals.

Reach Out

Humans aren’t made to live forever with the isolation and loneliness of the pandemic. If you’re struggling with feelings of sadness, anxiety, despair, and depression, the best way you can practice self-care is to reach out for help.

An experienced therapist can help you find your footing and navigate the rest of the pandemic with renewed confidence and courage.

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