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The MFS family is so glad you found us here.
Today we wanted to chat with you about coping strategies in times of increased stress and uncertainty. These feelings and emotions are unique, especially during these unprecedented times of COVID-19. Some of us may also be feeling overwhelmed, sad, scared, or lonely. Whatever the emotion or stress we are feeling, it is now, in these times, more important than ever to continue (or begin!) to practice self-care.
Self-care is fun! Self-care also looks different for each of us. It can be any activity – mental, emotional, or physical – that we do intentionally in order to fight those negative feelings and improve our mood and overall wellness.
Below, we list a variety of self-care strategies to consider adding to your daily routine. Note that the last bullet is a bonus on how to emotionally regulate for when things might start to feel a bit overwhelming.
● Stay connected
- Human beings were not made to be isolated. Isolation can increase the frequency and severity of our mental health symptoms. Think of creative ways to connect to those around you, when you can’t share physical space with them such as facetime, phone calls, text messages, or write letters. Set aside specific time and make plans to connect with those you love.
· Limit media intake
- The news and social media can be informative ways to stay in the know about what is happening in our world, but it can also quickly become overwhelming or counterproductive. Set limits on how frequently you check your social media apps or how much time you spend reading articles, watching various news stations, etc. By limiting your media intake, you allow your brain to take breaks from filtering the information and trying to make sense of all that is being shared.
· Move your body
- Just as we are not meant to isolate, our bodies were not created to be stagnant. Let’s move! Movement is both physically beneficial and also has been shown to support our emotional and mental health. Go for a walk, stretch, find a workout video, or whatever works for you. This does not need to be high intensity or a lengthy duration. Simply and mindfully get your body up and get your body moving.
· Eat well and stay hydrated
- During a time and space where so much feels out of our control, it is empowering to have control over the basics – food and water. Prioritize getting your recommended dosage of H2O and fuel your body with healthy foods that keep you functioning at your best. Do your best here and don’t be too hard on yourself for the occasional sweet treat. We all have our weakness (*cough* -chocolate- *cough*). Note that if food availability is a concern, please reach out to MFS via telephone or e-mail as we have compiled a list of resources in the Madison area. In addition, you can always call 211 for more resources
· Practice gratitude
- In times of crisis it can be very easy to fill our head with words of negativity and reminders of all the events, people, and life we are missing out on. By practicing gratitude and reminding ourselves of a few things we are grateful for each day, it will positively impact your mood. We are in control of how we see our circumstances, choose to find the bright side during hard times.
· Rest and have grace with yourself
- Rest when you need it. Catch up on the zzzz. Take a nap, go to bed earlier, or even hit the snooze button. How ever this looks for you – do it when you need it! And, have grace with yourself when your body does tell you that you need it. This practice will pay huge dividends when we need to be present for the other moments in our day.
· Use your resources
- Don't be afraid to ask for help. Utilize your resources. Don’t allow yourself to crumble when there are places and people out there to help. You are not alone.
· Increase your time for self-care
- Reading a book, writing in a journal, taking a bubble bath, watching a good movie, whatever self-care looks like for you, engage in more of those activities. This is a time to show extra love to yourself.
· Breathe in...Breathe out...
- We are all in this together. Take a few big inhales and long, rich exhales as often as you need. Remind yourself that this too will pass. We see you. We feel for you and all that this experience is bringing up for you. You have gone through hard times and overcome them; this is no different. We are all strengthening our resilience muscles.
Janyl Kozelka, MS, MFT, practicing social distancing in the picture cross country skiing