12 Ways to Care for Yourself During COVID-19
Updated: Apr 3
Tyndal Schreiner, LPC-Intern
As we navigate times of uncertainty, it is crucial that we care for ourselves. Many of us are experiencing heightened fear, worry, and distress during COVID-19 and it is only natural to need more comforting and self-care during times like these.
Our usual self-care practice may not be doing the trick. Here are some ways you can change up and supplement your self-care practice:
1. Naming Emotions
It sounds simple, but it isn’t something most of us do. It is hard to take care of our emotions if we don’t know what they are. Sometimes, we know we feel “off” but we aren’t sure exactly how we feel: Scared? Worried? Overwhelmed? Hurt?
The feelings list on Grokyourworld.com is a great resource.
2. Gentle Movement
A great way to change our psychological state is to change our physiological state. Simple stretches while moving to our breath can be a great way to regulate our nervous system. Yoga with Adriene on Youtube teaches gentle, approachable yoga practices for all ages, all levels, and all bodies.
We can get lost in our heads and our thoughts during stressful times. A great way to get out of our heads is to get back into our bodies by noticing our 5 senses.
Notice your feet on the floor
What colors do you see around you?
What do you hear?
Notice the smells around you
What do you taste? What would you like to taste?
Notice the sound and rhythm of your breathing
Meditation can be a great way to center ourselves during times of chaos. New to meditation? Guided meditations can be a great place to start!
www.meditationoasis.com has many free guided meditations!
It is so important that we are gentle with ourselves during this time. This includes noticing our experience and emotions with an attitude of nonjudgment. Kristin Neff would invite you to take it one step further and offer yourself love during this time. You can find her guided meditations at www.selfcompassion.org.
6. Calm the Fight/Flight Response by Using Breath
We can activate our parasympathetic nervous system (known for rest and digest) by extending our exhalations. This can be a simple, quick, effective way to calm our bodies and minds. Breathing in for 1…2…3…4 and Breathing out for 1…2…3…4…5…6…7.
7. Dance Therapy
Seems a little counter-intuitive during a time of a pandemic, right? However, dancing can give us a break from information intake, get some dopamine pumping, and add a little carefree fun to our time at home. Tiffany Roe, a therapist in Utah, has started #dancetherapy on Instagram. You can follow her: @Heytiffanyroe to see how others, their pets, and their families are using Dance Therapy.
8. Maintaining Connection during Social Distancing
Set up a group text with supportive friends and acquaintances, use Facetime/Zoom/Skype, and/or set up virtual dates with friends! Share a meal or cup of tea while facetiming. Watch Netflix together by using Netflix Party. Engage in social media that honors your boundaries regarding information intake.
9. Being Intentional about Space
Most of us are spending a lot more time at home than we were before March. It can help to practice intentionality about our space (ex: aroma, clutter, cleanliness & order, sunlight). We may also surround ourselves with items that feel comforting (favorite blankets, tea, plants, pets, etc.)
10. Virtual Experiences
Ideas for virtual experiences include: virtual field trips, concerts, book clubs, classes and support groups!
11. Creative Expression
Creativity can be soothing to our nervous system during times of distress and can helps us move out of a stress response. Many artists are offering art classes virtually free of charge. It may be a great time to make greeting cards or try a new crafting skill.
12. Honoring Your Boundaries
Boundaries may be needed regarding family time, information intake, screen time, and/or any domain of your life where you feel like you are overextending yourself. Boundaries do not have to be rigid rules, but can be fluid guidelines for how you want to spend your time, energy, and bandwidth.
Not only do we need intentional self-care during this time, but our neighbors and loved ones need care, too. We cannot pour from empty cups. May we care for ourselves so we can support others. Also, we deserve it!
*If you are in crisis, contact the Crisis line at: 1-877-466-0660 or call 911 *
Tyndal Schreiner is a Licensed Professional Counselor Intern (Supervised by Joanna Trevino, LPC-S) in New Braunfels, Texas. She is currently a therapist at River City Advocacy & Counseling Center, a community mental health nonprofit. She focuses on the mind-body connection and works primarily with clients who have a history of trauma.