by Amaranth Saludar
The latest Facebook Care Reaction is “a way for people to share their support with one another during this unprecedented time,“ as noted by Alexandru Voica, EMEA Technology Communications Manager for Facebook. But more than just a Facebook emoji, care is an emotion you should express to yourself.
Especially now that we observe mental health awareness month – and another month with a global pandemic – I want to share some self-care techniques and their significance. Here are my tips on how you could take C.A.R.E. of yourself during this crisis:
“With self-compassion, we give ourselves the same kindness and care we’d give to a good friend,” wrote Psychologist Kristin Neff. Moreover, Dr. Neff says that self-compassion is treating ourselves the way we would treat others when “[we] are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something [we] don’t like about [ourselves],” such as having self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.
We all suffer right now in a way or another, but to suppress or to exaggerate our negative emotions towards our suffering will not do us any better. Thus, it is important that we understand ourselves, accept our shared human experiences, and approach our emotions with balance.
For these to be possible, here are five ways to begin practicing self-compassion:
- Treat yourself as you would a small child.
- Practice mindfulness.
- Remember that you are not alone.
- Give yourself permission to be imperfect.
- Work with a supportive therapist or coach. (SEE: List of centers offering free online psychological services during the COVID-19 Pandemic)
Through these practices, you can learn to be kinder to yourself, improve your emotional well-being, and “make real changes in [your life].” (READ: The Many Benefits of Self-Compassion)
Allot time for productivity
With ongoing online classes and work at home due to the community quarantine, we may think that being productive means simply getting all the workload done. It may seem easy to do, but imagine sitting in front of a laptop (if lucky enough to have one) for hours for you to attend classes or meetings, submit tasks, and chase deadlines after deadlines every day.
It takes a toll on you, doesn’t it?
There are other ways to be productive, and one of those is to be active. Consider the Filipino Pyramid Activity Guide, which was conceptualized in 2000 and recommended by the Philippine Association for the Study of Overweight and Obesity (PASOO).
When you manage your personal energy, not just your time, you can adopt the physical activities in this guide which can help you not to be stuck in a boring, stressful, and unhealthy routine.
Some of the activities (from bottom to second to the top of the pyramid) are:
- Day-to-day activities – should be done “habitually and regularly for metabolic efficiency” (10 minutes at a time for 30 minutes a day at least; 5 days a week)
- Aerobic exercise and recreational activities – should be done regularly (at least 30 to 45 minutes or longer; 3 to 5 times a week)
- Leisure activities and exercise for strength and flexibility – should be done often (at least 30 to 45 minutes or longer; 2 to 3 times a week)
Note that since outdoor activities are included, it would be better to choose the ones that can be done indoors to comply with the stay-at-home rules.
From these activities, aside from getting physical benefits, you can also gain mental benefits, such as:
- Help for depression and anxiety
- Decreased stress
- Increased self-esteem and self-confidence
- Better sleep
- Brain boost
So, what are you waiting for? Do not just sit there and stare at your screen. Get up and take a stretch!
Rest, relax, and sleep
You may have already spent several minutes reading this article – and spent a long period of time in front of your screen – without even noticing, so I would like you to take a screen break to relieve your eyes. Here are some tips:
- Lube ’em up.
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule. (“Every 20 minutes, shift your eyes to look at an object at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds.”)
- Use computer eyeglasses.
- Adjust brightness and contrast.
- Reduce the glare.
- Adjust your position at the computer.
Done? Let us now go back to the Filipino Pyramid Activity Guide, particularly the topmost part. Found here are the activities that should be done only minimally (a few times a month), though I am sure there are people who do these a lot. These are:
- Lying around
- Being a couch potato
- Watching TV
- Playing cards
- Sitting and doing needle work
- Indulging in computer games and [internet] surfing
Other than these activities, there is also another one that you may want to consider that can help you rest and relax: art therapy.
Aside from screen breaks and relaxation practices, do not forget to take enough naps and/or sleep. For adults, it is best to keep naps short, nap in the early afternoon, and create a restful environment; and to set a sleep goal, establish a regular bedtime and honor it, eat healthier foods, and ease into sleep.
Through these ways, you are benefited with:
- Reduced fatigue
- Increased alertness
- Improved mood
- Improved performance, including quicker reaction time and better memory
- Mind and body recovery from the day’s work
- Achievement of wellness goals
With that, I hope you do not overwork yourself from now on. May you have a beauty sleep tonight, and for the rest of the nights, for a brighter mind and mood tomorrow.
Eating well does not only mean carefully chewing your food and getting your stomach full, but it also means eating the foods that are good for both your brain and your body.
In nutritional psychiatry, according to Harvard Health, eating foods that contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants “nourishes the brain and protects it from oxidative stress — the “waste” (free radicals) produced when the body uses oxygen, which can damage cells.”
Meanwhile, a diet high in refined sugars worsens your body’s regulation of insulin, promotes inflammation and oxidative stress, and worsens symptoms of mood disorders, such as depression.
So, let go of that junk food in your hand – and please do not get another. Lessen the sweets on your plate and on the table, and start preparing a healthy and delicious food to improve your mood.
To C.A.R.E. for yourself is not as easy as tapping the Care Reaction on a Facebook post or message. It may be a difficult process that takes time, love, effort, and courage to manifest; maybe, a process that gets more difficult in times of crisis and suffering. Even so, do your best to give yourself the emotional support that you need. Always remember that you matter, so keep yourself safe and healthy.