It’s an anxious time for parents trying to manage through this latest COVID outbreak in Sydney. We’re trying to stay outwardly calm as to not panic our kids but we’re worried about them, ourselves and our parents. And it’s not just health. There are job losses, financial stress, health concerns while we’re trying to work from home (or we’re back in the office) and social distancing. In the midst of all this chaos and worry, it’s more important than ever to practice self-care. This will keep your anxiety to a manageable level so you can stay fit and healthy and able to look after your family.
Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best self-care practices you can indulge in at home.
Disconnect from social media & news outlets
It’s easy to feel stressed and overwhelmed by the ongoing news stories about COVID-19 so pause on the 24 news cycle for a while. Disconnect from your social media if you find it too much as well. While social media can be great to connect people, it can also spread fake news and falsehoods which end up alarming people unnecessarily.
It’s tempting to binge on wine and pig out on carbs when faced with the prospect of a pandemic. But resist the urge to stress eat. Try to eat healthy balanced meals and drink plenty of water to bolster your immune system.
Get enough sleep
Now more than ever, it’s important to have enough sleep to keep your immune system healthy. Turn off your phone and TV and get into bed and practice healthy sleep habits. Aim for at least 7 hours of sleep a night.
Laugh & then laugh some more
Find funny sitcoms, movies or comedy specials to watch that will make you laugh. The benefits of laughter are well known – reduces stress, releases endorphins and boosts your immune system – all benefits that we need in the middle of a pandemic. It doesn’t matter what you watch as long as it’s marked Comedy and makes you laugh. We’re not even going to recommend comedians as everyone has their own taste. But you can start with Live at the Apollo and Montreal Comedy Festival specials. You know who you think is funny! Watch their stuff.
Get some exercise
Even if you’re social distancing at home, you can still take advantage of the benefits of exercise. It helps not only your physical health but also your mental health as you release endorphins. Head outside for a solo run or walk (abide by current social distancing guidelines) or choose from a variety of online exercise routines on YouTube.
Do a yoga or stretching practice
Release the stress and tension from your body by doing a yoga practice. There are numerous yoga practices on YouTube but one that was recommended by a yoga-loving friend was Yoga4U with Anneriek. Her Yin Yoga practices are reputed to be especially effective for stress relief.
Meditate on it
Even if you’ve never meditated before, there’s never been a more ideal time to try it. Meditation can help people reduce their stress and improve their sleep. Calm and Shine are two popular phone apps for meditation and mindfulness that you can use to relax. They offer a variety of guided meditations of different time lengths. ABC Classic Flow is a free podcast which features blissful yoga and meditation set to beautiful music. A series of low impact yoga classes and guided relaxation and breathing exercises have been designed by yoga professional Lara Zilibowitz.
Embrace the power of smell
Here are a few practical things you can do to create a calm atmosphere by embracing the power of smell / aromatherapy. Your senses are powerful. If you can wake up before the rest of your family when the house is quiet and place your favourite relaxation blend on your diffuser and set a new tone for the day. Essential oils are effective at calming and relaxing. If you feel overwhelmed, have your aromatherapy pulse points handy to roll onto your temples, wrists and behind your ears as a reminder to gather your thoughts and have a breather. Fleurette Aromatherapy, a local small business has a collection of hand-blended aromatherapy products designed to promote calm and relaxation. They even have scented (hospital strength) hand sanitiser for those who need it.
Play with LEGO
Playing with LEGO isn’t just for kids. It’s a great activity for parents to unwind in a world of blocks. Just wait until the kids go to sleep and then start building with their blocks. You can choose to put together a kit using the instructions (think of it as guided meditation) or you can free build. Whatever you do, it’s a therapeutic practice. There’s even a book for adults that LEGO commissioned called LEGO Build Yourself Happy: The Joy of LEGO Play. There’s even LEGO sets targeted just for adults like Central Perk, the cafe from Friends. The Flintstones house and the International Space Station.
Create with playdough
It’s not just the kids’ LEGO that you can play with. Get into their playdough. Playing with the squishy dough is fun and promotes creativity. It’s a tactile experience that lets your brain unwind. You can either buy playdough or make your own (here’s our recipe). For an added treat, knead in some essential oils like lavender or flavourings if you want to give the playdough an aroma for a more sensory experience.
Colour yourself calm
Another way to zone out and relax is to colour. Buy yourself a book and some nice pencil and colour away your stress. There’s plenty of adult colouring books out there including Ultimate Travelist Colouring Book by Lonely Planet. Even while COVID-19 prevents us all from travelling, you can still take a trip around the world with your pencils by colouring in 100 great places around the world.
Listen to music
Unwind and listen to some tunes. Listen to your favourite artist or album or playlist and just let go. Want a curated playlist? Choose a Spotify playlist in the Chill genre to calm you down.
Read a book
Get your mind off the coronavirus and engage it in some reading. Choose from some titles that will distract you. Avoid reading fiction books about disease like Robin Cook’s Pandemic, Stephen King’s The Stand or Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain if you know it will increase your anxiety. Choose from some engaging reading materials. We’re fans of Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine Book Club.
Write a journal
Even if you usually don’t write in a journal, this is a good practice when you’re feeling stressed. Putting pen to paper and capturing all your thoughts and worries, no matter how small or big they might be can definitely help. You will feel better getting these thoughts out of your head.
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