What does self-care really mean?
Self-care is attending to your physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs. You practice self-care when you intentionally set aside time to do something for yourself that will rejuvenate you rather than drain you. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or cost any money.
Self-care can often be mistaken for self-indulgence. Although self-indulgent activities and self-care activities may overlap, it’s important to distinguish between the two. Indulgence may help you feel better momentarily but does not necessarily rejuvenate you in the long run.
Self-care practices to try during COVID-19
With all the changes that you are experiencing, maybe self-care feels difficult. Reflect on strategies that you relied on in the past. What has worked and why? Are these activities or strategies accessible to you now? If not, can they be adapted to this current situation and environment?
For example, if in the past you cared for yourself by going for a walk around campus, is there an area nearby where you could safely walk (while practicing physical distancing) and feel a similar sense of comfort?
You might also consider trying some new strategies like the ones listed below.
Create a routine
- Adding structure to your day can help you to feel more empowered as your focus shifts to what is within your control, rather than focusing on what may feel out of your control.
- Set a consistent bedtime, wake time, and meal schedule.
- If setting a full schedule seems like too much at first, try setting an alarm for the next morning and making a conscious decision about when your day will start.
Take care of your body
- Exercising can be very challenging right now; however, even 30 minutes a day can boost your physical and mental health. Campus Recreation is providing free virtual classes and programming.
- Try new strategies to get enough sleep. Restful sleep can help protect your mental and physical health, as well as bolster your ability to manage stress.
- Consider how stress may impact eating habits.
- Limit alcohol, vaping, and other drugs, which can impact both your mood and your immune system. If you notice that you’re drinking or using other drugs more than usual, consider reaching out to OPEN for a confidential, supportive and non-judgmental check-in.
Engage your brain
- Take time to read for pleasure, listen to a podcast you enjoy, or stream a live virtual concert. Boston Public Library has free rentals of audiobooks, eBooks, and streaming media and your local library system might have them, too.
- Engage in a meaningful activity or hobby you enjoy.
- Discover a new favorite movie: As a Northeastern student, you also have access to tons of films through Kanopy.
- Write in a journal or write a letter to future self.
- Find creative ways to connect with those you care about such as watching shows or playing games together.
- Reminding yourself of the altruistic benefits of physical distancing can help buffer feelings of isolation and loneliness. By practicing physical distancing, you are joining millions of other people in protecting those most vulnerable to COVID-19.
- Consider joining an online support group:
Be kind to yourself
- Practice positive coping strategies and remember to show yourself some compassion right now.
- Consider limiting your exposure to news about the pandemic to 10-15 minutes a day and using reliable news sources you trust. While it’s important to receive timely information about COVID-19, too much exposure can lead to stress and anxiety.
- Here’s a useful and easy practice to reduce your anxiety about the pandemic. It’s normal to have a range of reactions to stressful situations, including a feeling of numbness or not reacting at all.
- Don’t be afraid to set boundaries with friends or family too by placing limits on how much of the daily discussion is devoted to current events.
- Avoid the productivity trap. We’re experiencing a pandemic and you don’t have to come out of this time with new skills.
- Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose and without judgment to the present moment, and recognizing the times we are distracted and redirecting our attention back to the present.
- Practice yoga and meditation. Not sure how to meditate? Start here.
- Consider these spiritual tools and tips from the Center for Spirituality and Dialogue Services (CSDS). You do not need to have any religious belief or spiritual practice for many of the tips.
Reach out for help when you need it
If you find that self-care practices are not enough and you’d like to explore additional support, please consider reaching out to UHCS and other Northeastern offices and resources. Support is available.
Please click here to see more information about accessing mental health support and resource options remotely.