Self Care Through Tough Times

Just a few short months ago, none of us could have imagined the environment we have found ourselves in today. Our world and our lives have changed in so many ways, some small and others more significant. Although many of our usual activities and routines have been impacted by factors out of our control, there are still measures we can take that are very much within our control. Self-care is critical at this time. Just as you keep up with scheduled car maintenance and keep your gas tank adequately full, self-care helps maximize your ability to function and perform under difficult circumstances. Below are just a few ways to help yourself cope and practice self-care:

  • Manage intake of media/news: you can keep informed of important information but insulate yourself from information overload and anxiety-causing rhetoric
  • Exercise as able: any type of movement contributes to physical (and mental) well-being, if your job is stationary, get up from your desk regularly, do light stretches and go up and down a flight of stairs
  • Take in nature: the sights, sounds, and smells of nature can be both calming and energizing (think of a bird resting on a tree branch or two squirrels playfully chasing one another)
  • Eat healthy, nutrient-dense foods and hydrate: inadequate hydration is the number the one cause of irritability as well as a host of other ailments (e.g., headaches)
  • Maintain physical and mental health: many providers are offering telehealth appointments for non-urgent care including teletherapy to address issues of anxiety and depression
  • Mindfulness: the practice of staying in the moment rather than reliving the past or worrying about the future; this can include meditation or conscious breathing with eyes closed and soft music
  • Gratitude practice: at the start or end of each day, identify three “things” for which you are grateful; these can be people, experiences, accomplishments, belongings (comfortable home, plentiful groceries). It is important to remember that some days this task is easier than others— even something as simple as a morning cup of tea/coffee or a warm beam of sunlight shining through a window are examples
  • Help someone else: the satisfaction of helping another person provides benefits to the recipient and boosts your mood and self-esteem
  • Contribute to the greater good: volunteer to sew masks for healthcare workers or others; donate to a local food pantry to help the burden of increased demand
  • Laugh: laughter provides both physical and mental health benefits; watch a favorite comedy movie or TV show, search online for your favorite type of humor (e.g., slapstick, satire, etc.)
  • Explore and learn: the Internet puts the world at your fingertips; you can travel and play tourist from the comfort of your home. The following websites allow you to tour a world class museum or visit a national park:

https://artsandculture.withgoogle.com/en-us/national-parks-service

https://artsandculture.google.com/partner?hl=en

  • Seek help: today’s environment offers additional challenges to grief. If you’ve encountered loss, seek bereavement support. SALMON VNA & Hospice may offer bereavement consultations to individuals regardless of whether the family used hospice services. Contact the bereavement coordinator for a consultation at 508-422-1893 or [email protected]
  • Stay connected with loved ones and surround yourself with positive people

The current situation presents challenges for face-to-face contact so be creative in connecting with your loved ones; in addition to making telephone calls consider the following:

  • Use FaceTime® or Skype® to add video to your communication
  • For a group call, try the application Zoom® which is currently free for sessions of 40 minutes or less
  • Send photos and videos of family members (babies, children and pets are especially popular!)

This has been a time of change and loss from which no one has been exempt. Remember that relationships transcend time and space. Regardless of one’s religious or spiritual beliefs, or lack thereof, we carry our treasured memories forever. We have an opportunity to learn from experience and grow as individuals, communities, and global citizens. We are up to the task!

Janet Dwyer is the Bereavement Coordinator for SALMON VNA & Hospice. For information on services, please visit our hospice care page.