My eyes widen in fear every time I scroll on Twitter and read the newest coronavirus-related headlines—so I turn to Instagram. It's business as usual on the app—an influencer's sponsored post nestled in between a dog meme and yet another event canceled tour or panel or movie due to the current global pandemic. Between the news cycle churning out information about the virus at light speed—and all the misinformation being circulated simultaneously—Twitter theorists and faux comedians' non-stop commentary on the state of the world and no definite expiration date on our current social distancing experiment, your girl is exhausted.
I've found it increasingly difficult to cope with the wave of emotions I'm experiencing right now, leaving no room for optimism. Now isn't the time to abandon my self-care routine, but here I am on Cheez-It binge refreshing Twitter for the umpteenth time. But during a period of physical isolation, what does self-care even look like?
Determined to practice a little extra self-care, I polled a few health and wellness experts to share their self-care routines and tips for those who could use some help.
Dr Justine Grusso, Psychologist
Practice mindful awareness
"The essence of my self-care during this time is mindful awareness—being intentionally present with seemingly mundane tasks, savoring small moments of peace and connection, and responding compassionately to myself and others. It is so easy to be "on autopilot" and jump out of bed and rush into the day. In the morning, I take an intentional breath and feel the ground under my feet one step at a time. I drink a glass of water before my cup of coffee and visualize the water nourishing my body. I spend a few moments looking outside (or stepping outside if it is warm enough) to take in nature around my house and witness new signs of life—buds on trees and blooms on flowers. I limit looking at the news to five minutes or less. I am intentional while getting ready by continuing to tend to personal hygiene and dressing in work clothes (at least on top) since I am working from home. Staying on top of my “getting ready routines" sends messages to our mind and body that we are safe and worth taking care of. The opposite, self-neglect, send messages of unease and unworthiness. I also regularly post self-regulation skills on my Instagram and have found that creating community around self-care is very uplifting."
Jennifer Patterson, Herbalist and Breathwork Facilitator
"Part of my self-care is checking in on my neighbors, running to the grocery store for them as needed, and gifting tinctures and teas to people in my communities who need them. I also love conscious breathing. Breathwork is a powerful practice for centering back into oneself. There is so much happening in this current crisis and it’s easy to get stuck in anxiety and trauma responses. When I engage my breath consciously, I have an opportunity to slow down, check-in with myself, and be present with all the emotion and fear while also bringing ease to my nervous system. A great breath to try when you are feeling anxious and overwhelmed, or when you’re trying to fall asleep, is called box breath. Inhale through your nose for 4 counts, hold it for 4 counts, exhale through your mouth for 4 counts, hold it again for 4 counts. Repeat."
DeJanae Evins, Founder of Green Goddess Glow
Find a new hobby
"Cooking has probably been the most essential part to me taking care of myself during this time. What we eat not only impacts how are body functions with regard to our immune systems but it also impacts how we feel and our bodies ability to manage stress. During the day, I’m on the internet and bombarded by the news and latest developments the global corona crisis. It helps to keep a CBD joint within arms reach. If ever I feel overwhelmed, I just set everything aside and take a nap or a long bath with infused bath salts or an infused bath bomb. Listening to jazz music also allows me to relax and keep calm. The goal is to get 8 to 10 hours of sleep so I’m well rested and ready to take on the day tomorrow."
Miriam Fried, Fitness Guru
Be kind to yourself
We may not be able to see each other physically, but communicating with your friends and family by scheduling calls and Facetime, as well as checking in regularly via text or email, makes us feel a little closer. Also, allow yourself do nothing. There's a lot of pressure right now to be productive and while accomplishing things while we're stuck home is great, it's also okay to just let yourself be for a bit as we adapt to this new normal. Sometimes, self care looks like hanging on the couch and binging Netflix."
Hannah Bronfman, DJ and Founder of HBFIT
Create a routine that works for you
“My self-care routine is the thing I look forward to and helps me feel a sense of calm during these uncertain times. Every morning I start my day with probiotics and vitamin C then I drink a large glass of water with apple cider vinegar. Then, I move into 30 minutes of movement, whether it’s a walk down the street or a Kira Stokes workout via her app. My night time beauty routine is my moment to really pamper my skin. I'm alternating masks every other day while sipping on turmeric tea or red wine.
Aimee Derbes, Licensed Acupuncturist and Founder of Align New York
Try new resources
"I've been finding a new daily rhythm using low cost, low technology tools that both release anxiety and boost immunity. I like meditating for 10 minutes twice per day or using ear seeds to help calm my nervous system or taking epsom salt baths each night before bed. I've also leaned into the proliferation of online yoga, meditation, and fitness classes; gratitude journaling to reduce stress and improve mood, and I can't think of a time when we've all needed that more than ever."
Nia Pettitt, Founder of The Curl Bar
Create one goal a day and accomplish it
"I always like to let light into my home in the mornings. I always open my windows to let fresh air in as well as making my bed so I’m less tempted to get back in. I always play Lo-fi beats as they relax me and the lyrics don’t distract me from my own thoughts. Lighting a candle or burning incense is a great way to calm your space too. Set yourself a simple task whether it’s reading a new book, doing laundry, spending 15 minutes meditating, watching a series, journaling, doing 10 minutes worth of emails or just sitting down. Our minds find comfort in accomplishment but it doesn’t have to be anything over the top. This is a great time to make peace with things you were too busy to. Have you forgiven lately? Or said an apology? And if you are still on your hustle, stay safe and avoid any contact with people; don’t feel bad for creating boundaries or politely saying no if someone tries to hug you or shake your hand. You have to look out for yourself and your health."
Carissa Galloway, Registered Dietician
"As a health professional, a mom, and someone who is currently six months pregnant, this time has been filled with some anxiety and stress. I like to think of self-care in 4 key areas: food, movement, mental, relationships."
- Food — Stick with the concept of "eat the best you can when you can." You’re not going to have the same access to every food you did before, but strive to make good choices based on what’s available.
- Movement — If you're able to walk outside, do it every day but safely distance yourself from others. Each day I take my daughter on a nature hike; I pack a backpack with a snack and drink (lately I've been loving the Bodyarmor Lyte Tropical Coconut) to keep us hydrated as we burn calories and boost our mood with endorphins.
- Mental — Give yourself at least two one-hour breaks from social media a day and do a daily meditation. I use the app Headspace at night before bed, and even on a daily walk just putting away technology and taking time to notice your surroundings can be a mentally beneficial way to unwind.
- Relationships– You are likely still around your immediate family—now maybe more than ever. Make connecting without social media a daily goal, whether it's planning a family game night or a physical activity where you can be present with each other. This time can strengthen your relationship, calm nerves and maybe make memories of a good time during a situation we are all still dealing with.
Matthew Mileo, Yoga Instructor
Clean and reset
"Turn "spring cleaning" into active mediation. Select an area of your home that you wish to dive into first (for me I always start in the kitchen or bedroom closet). Prepare the ambience with some soothing music, turn off distractions like your phone, and light an aromatic candle to set a relaxing mood. Aromatherapy is one of the best things to immediately change your mood, as it has been scientifically shown to significantly lower anxiety and worry.
Then, evaluate each item and practice the art of letting go by giving away the item, or the art of gratitude by thanking the item for its continued service. This active meditation of letting go and gratitude empowers the person with a sense of purpose and stability which quells fear and panic in a world that feels very unstable right now."
Nerisha Penrose Assistant Editor Nerisha is the assistant editor at ELLE.com, covering all things beauty and fashion.