Self-care On A Budget During The Pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic has, in more than one way, affected millions of Americans, and many of those financially too. With many being made redundant or having their hours cut, we still need to be able to practice self-care, but on a budget. Here are some ideas for how to achieve it.
Drink plenty of water
Staying hydrated can increase energy and reduce fatigue. It can help with headaches too because many of us confuse thirst for hunger, so if that nagging headache won’t go, it could be just that you need some water!
Walk- get outside and into nature
Once you’ve gained some of that energy, get outside! Whether it’s a quick drive to a local park, or somewhere local, spend some time in nature! Walking, and indeed just being physically active, releases the feel-good endorphins. Getting some daily exercise is particularly important if you are working from home.
Pop your earbuds in with your favorite playlist or just listen to the sounds of nature- the birds twittering, a stream bubbling, or just the silence of being outdoors. Enjoy the smells and the sights. Being in the sun will boost your vitamin D levels too but just be aware and use a good sunscreen.
Reading is an excellent way to relieve your mind of stress and anxiety. It also relieves your eyes from screentime, whether being the TV or a laptop screen. A good book can transport you away from your current surroundings. Kindle and other similar e-book companies always have free novels available, to suit whichever genre appeals to you.
Join a Facebook group that covers your area, some people are leaving books in containers on park benches, for example, to be read and swapped- all sanitized of course!
Keep a journal
Writing a journal doesn’t have to be a daily chore, you can write in it a few times a week or month. Use the journal as a place to off-load thoughts and feelings, whether positive or negative. Just by writing some of your feelings down, anxiety levels can improve and reducing worry can help you to sleep better.
Consider starting a gratitude journal. You can write whatever you like, but generally, they should include things that you are grateful for and things that make you feel happy. Did you do something nice for someone that made you feel good? Or vice versa? Something funny your children may have said? These small memories soon add up and could be just what you need to read and remind yourself of one day if you’re feeling low.
Catch up with close friends and family members
During unprecedented times such as these, staying in touch with others is very important for each and every one of us, not just for our mental health. Even if you don’t feel that you need to for your own sake because you feel great, there may be someone else that really appreciates your message or call.
With so many ways to communicate, from SMS, social media and video-calls to good old fashioned letter writing, there will be some time in the day where you can reconnect with others.
Have a coffee (or a cocktail) with a friend via video call, see if any family members need any help or if you are single, have a look into dating while quarantined! Yes, it is possible!
On the contrary to the above, sometimes you also just need to ‘get away from it all’. Having a cell phone with notifications, calls, SMS messages and email alerts can all get a bit much. Turn off your laptop, mute all notifications on your cell and do something else.
Having less time on your phone before you try to sleep is also a good idea. The blue screen can affect your body’s production of melatonin, which prepares us for our slumber. Too little of this hormone can play havoc with our sleep patterns. Try to read a book instead. Some cell phones have an anti-blue screen function so use this if it’s available.
How many times have you saved a recipe, fully intending to try it one day? Now could be a good time if you have the opportunity. If you don’t have all the ingredients and getting to the store is difficult, why not use a search engine for a recipe using items that you have in your cupboards? Your new favorite meal could be waiting to be discovered!
Also, teaching the kids how to bake is a great chance to have some family time together and also educational! You have the added bonus of being able to sample the goods later on- what’s not to like?
Cleaning and gardening
Having a really good spring clean can be cathartic for the mind. As the saying goes- “a tidy house is a tidy mind”. Go through your kitchen cupboards and throw away anything at the back that’s out of date, sort through your wardrobe, recycle any old books you’ve read, dust all those forgotten nooks and crannies.
If you have a garden, spring is a good time to tidy up after the winter. Plant new bulbs, pull up the intruding weeds, cut the lawn and clean up your garden furniture. You can have this done in no time and ready for the lighter and warmer summer nights.
Mini ‘at-home’ pamper
Set aside some ‘me-time’. Get the kids to design a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign and attach it to the bathroom door!
Turn that cell phone off!
Light some candles and run a bath. Use bath bombs and exfoliate your skin. Apply a good conditioner to your hair and leave in for ten or fifteen minutes, wrapped in a warm towel, then rinse.
Use a luxurious moisturizer after your soak, and good eye cream and facial moisturizer.
Cut and file your fingernails and toenails then paint them in your favorite color for the ‘home manicure and pedicure’.
Relax in your favorite pajamas or comfy clothes and read or catch up on your favorite box set.
After your mini-pamper, what better than fresh, crisp and clean bedsheets! So many people feel they sleep better in clean bedding.
Try to ease your mind of worries, write down any concerns you have you can deal with those tomorrow. Turn your cell off, or at last mute the notifications. Try not to use technology in the hour before bedtime because it is proven to disrupt sleeping behaviors. Instead, grab a good book and let that take over the stresses of the day.
You could always spritz your pillow gently with lavender essential oils, proven to relieve stress and aid sleep by increasing slow and deep wave sleep.
Meditation, mindfulness, and breathing
There are thousands of apps available to help us relax. This may be by learning meditation (rarely mastered on the first try!) or even breathing ‘properly’. Download a few onto your smartphone to get a feel for the one you prefer.
There are many coloring books for sale now, for grown-ups, which all help take focus away from worries and provide you with something you have achieved, albeit maybe a small achievement.
Finding a hobby that suits you will give you that downtime, away from the chaos of everyday life. Have you thought about knitting, crocheting, needle-felting or painting? Many people find that being out in the garden or taking that walk helps tremendously. It’s all about finding the one activity for you.
The main thing to remember is to do what makes you feel good and learn to look after yourself- you are just as important as anyone else!