Taking Care of Yourself During Hardships

When we are going through difficult times, we often prioritize taking care of others around us, or we may not feel motivated to take the time and energy for self-care. This has been happening to me a lot during this last year of experiencing the pandemic along with intersections of other circumstances in my life. As a result, I’ve had a much harder time gathering the incentive to make sure I’m doing okay. If you feel like you are neglecting yourself, here are some tips on how to combat that:

  1. 1. Clean your space and your body

    One of the most basic needs that I think makes the most difference is taking care of hygiene. I think we all go through times of skipping that shower, or avoiding washing your hair, brushing your teeth, or washing your clothes. It also helps tremendously to tidy up your living space. Having a clear environment can help to clear your mind of clutter too. If you’re having trouble getting started, what I like to do is count down from five in my head or out loud. It might sound silly, but it helps to give you that reason to get up when you reach the last number. This is called the 5 second rule.

  2. 2. Celebrate small accomplishments

    row of blue cupcakes

    Rewarding yourself for the small things is a great way to acknowledge that whatever you are doing deserves to be recognized. I know  when I accomplish a task  I’ve been needing to do for a while, no matter how small a task it may be, it still should be celebrated. As a result, giving yourself praise and rewards for finishing things that aren’t always easy can help develop good habits and a positive mindset. For me, I’ll sometimes get ice cream or watch a movie as a way to reward my effort.

  3. 3. Talk to friends/family/loved ones

    Since many of us are going through feelings of isolation, it’s important for us to reconnect with people, especially if we haven’t talked to them in a while. I know I’ve personally had a harder time staying connected with my friends, so it helps to send out a quick message to check in. You never know how much that might mean to them as well. If you go a long time without talking about your feelings, it can start to accumulate and cause bigger problems in the future. I would also highly suggest looking into therapy if you’re interested in talking to a professional. At UW Bothell, students have access to free mental health counseling. They have also partnered with MySSP which is an online student support program that provides 24/7 counseling. For other mental health resources, visit the Washington State Health Care Authority webpage, which provides services for people enrolled in Apple Health. Your mental health is so important and integral to self-care.

  4. 4. Meditate

    Woman meditates with her eyes closed

    If there is a lot going on and you’re constantly working on things, it’s difficult to pinpoint when to stop. It’s easy to forget that in order to keep going, you have to make sure you have the energy for it. You can’t pour from an empty glass. If you’re catching yourself feeling overwhelmed, I recommend trying meditation. It allows you to stop everything you’re doing, sans distractions, and be present with yourself. There are many useful meditation apps, like Headspace, and YouTube videos out there for helpful guides. One YouTube channel I have found useful is Mindspo. They even have a meditation video dedicated to pandemic anxiety. For more in-depth information on meditation, check out this article from Mindful.org.

  5. 5. Cook a nice meal or order out

    Healthy food

    When most of your energy is spent elsewhere, it can be hard to take more time to cook a nice meal for yourself. I find myself going for anything that’s instantly available, which is almost always not a nutritious or appealing option for me. If you set aside just a little bit of extra time to make food that will provide you with energy and nourishment for your soul, it will most likely set yourself up for a better day or evening. There’s also the option to order out if that is helpful to you. Sometimes, I use it as a way to treat myself after a long, hard day and I’m craving something in particular.

  6. 6. Get some fresh air

    Person Stands on Brown Pathway

    Going outside can really help break that cabin fever that can start to form if you’re always inside. For me, I sometimes start to feel pain in certain areas of my body if I haven’t moved around, so going outside and moving my body for a bit makes a big difference. Going for a quick walk outside, if you are able, helps tremendously to loosen up those joints while getting some fresh air.

  7. 7. Pamper yourself

    woman applying face cream in front of the mirror

    Go the extra mile if you’d like to! Pampering can mean something different to everyone. For some, it may involve taking a bath, putting on a face mask, and lighting a candle. To others, this may not sound relaxing, but more like a chore. Find whatever relaxes you and turn that into a pampering session. For me, I like to take my mind off of my current stressors and escape for a while. For example, I like to do my nails or give myself a spa session. Just taking that extra time than usual to care for myself.

This past year has been a long and gruesome one for all of us, so hopefully these self-care tips can help you to pay some extra love and attention to yourself and your needs.