SIX SELF-CARE STEPS TO IMPLEMENT DURING TIMES OF SOCIAL DISTANCING
With the outbreak of COVID-19, we have an opportunity to practice intentional connectedness. Physical isolation from one another can lead to feelings of loneliness. Since we know that mental health affects our immune system, I’d like to encourage anyone that may find themselves feeling lonely or isolated during this time.
The Journal of the American Heart Association recently tracked more than 1,600 people living with heart failure. They found that going without human contact for too long can literally break your heart.[i] Another group of researchers lead by psychological scientist Julia Rohrer revealed that people who come up with “well-being” strategies involving other people were more satisfied with their lives one year later. “In contrast, people who came up with strategies that did not explicitly involve others remained (the same),” said Rohrer.[ii]
That seems a little depressing if you ask me. Time to rally...here are six self-care tips on how to make a positive impact with one another during times of social isolation.
Reach out. Technology is a wonderful tool that most of us have access to. Picking up the phone and reaching out to family and friends—hearing their voices—can provide comfort and reduce anxiety. Students in particular are used to being with several groups every day. Why not designate a regular Facetime, Zoom, or Skype session with classmates?
Learn something new with a loved one. Have you wanted to learn a new language or hobby? Ask loved ones about their interests and if they have a desire to learn something new. Challenge each other to learn a new skill and see who can come up with the best results.
Create structure to your day—have a set time for getting up and working each day. Designate a specific area for work. Get outside and exercise if at all possible. Exercising helps the body release chemicals called endorphins, sometimes referred to as the happy-hormone. These endorphins interact with receptors in the brain that reduce pain perception and can reduce stress. Go on a walk with your headphones and challenge a friend to walk and talk while you exercise. It will leave your body with a positive sense of well-being and will help sleep patterns. Allow for methods of distraction at the end of the day such as Netflix or your favorite podcast.
Enlist your creative spirit. Write a letter or paint a picture for someone. The mandated visitor restrictions in nursing homes tells me these members of our community would appreciate a special note or picture. As a child, from the time I learned to write, I was “encouraged” to write a weekly letter to my grandmother. She lived in a retirement home in Florida. Years later my aunt told me how much my grandmother looked forward to those letters. She saved each one.
Connect with non-humans. Animals have a way of making us feel unconditionally loved. If you don’t have a pet perhaps there is someone in your community that would love to have a dog walker.
Volunteer! Volunteering is the best way to get outside of your own head. Did you know there are ways to volunteer without having to leave home that can really make a difference? I have an aunt with limited vision and wanted to try an app before suggesting it to her. Be My Eyes for iOS or Android, was an app developed to help blind and low-vision people lead more independent lives. Sighted volunteers lend their eyes to solve tasks big and small to those in need. Incoming calls are identified, if you are not able to answer the call it will simply re-route to an available volunteer.
Want to see if you have what it takes to sell your art? 8x10 is a platform, developed by artists to simplify the process of selling artwork online and in person. Designed to support those pursuing a creativity-fueled career, they strive to help artists monetize their talent.
For more volunteer ideas check out Govolunteer.com.au.
This can be an opportunity to expand, get creative AND practice COMPASSION, for yourself and others.
Kristina Brown is a speaker, author, marketing consultant, and mental wellness advocate. Through her initiatives, Brown identifies and dispels myths and stigmas surrounding mental health by educating, empowering, and creating a culture which views mental health as important as physical health. www.kristinakari.com