As time passes and our communities move through the phases of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, there are things we have control over and things we don’t. Tending to the things we do have control over can help address anxiety, so it can be a lovely act of self-care and self-compassion to focus on lifestyle choices we can make to support our wellbeing and our immune system. For me, coronavirus became the invitation to a healthier lifestyle and more self-care that I knew I’d been wanting for a while. Coronavirus gave me the motivation to care for myself more.
You likely already know what you need to take care of your wellbeing, but it might be helpful to see a list of some of our body’s basic needs. To help me to not feel overwhelmed, these six lifestyle choices are the things I’ve been focussing on for my own self-care, and to support the strengthening of my immune system:
- Sleep is our number 1 self-care and self-compassion practice. I sleep for about 10 hours a night.
- 9-12 cups a day or more of water helps to keep us healthy. I have a large water bottle that holds 2.2 litres or 73 fluid ounces, and I make sure I drink that amount each day.
- Water is needed to support our mood and our ability to think.
- Our body protects us by giving us warning signs when we are just 1-2% dehydrated. Warning signs like headaches, difficulty thinking, and change in mood tell us that we need to find water soon so that we can survive.
- Inflammation is behind most chronic illness and many anxiety and depression-type conditions.
- One way to address inflammation is to address our nutrition. We can improve gut health through eat lots of fruits and veggies (organic is best). I’m not a big fruit-eater, but I eat some fruit every day. At present my diet is mostly veggies and grains.
- Eating whole foods (unprocessed) are a great act of self-care for our digestion.
- Emotions affect our immune system and an immune system in a state of constant inflammation can negatively affect our emotions. We may not be able to change our emotions, but we can change what we eat to help us move past a cycle of difficult emotions.
- Vitamin D is needed for, amongst other things, healthy bones and to prevent depression. I once had unexplained depression for a month, which went away instantly when I started taking a Vitamin D supplement. Now, while the weather is nice, I get out into the sun for around 20 minutes every day.
- Exercise protects our brain in the long term and puts endorphins into our system in the short term. I don’t exercise strenuously, but I take one brisk 20-minute walk every second day, and a longer, more leisurely 30-minute walk every evening with my partner.
- Yoga is a lovely act of self-care. I practice a short yoga sequence each day, and do some extra stretching when I feel my body needs it.
- Movement during the day (especially in the morning) and stillness at night support our circadian rhythm cycles and help us to sleep.
- Connection with our self, our community, nature, and spirit are necessary for us to thrive. Connection offers compassion, support, a sense of delight, and a sense of something larger than ourselves, which can feel quite spiritual for us. I connect with my community mostly online, and am fortunate enough to live with someone I feel very connected to. I connect with myself through mindfulness practices; with nature through listening to nature sounds through my headphones and by being in nature when I can; and with spirit through reading inspiring books and touching in to that sense of something larger than me when it’s accessible.
May this be a time for a call to action that leads us to healthier lifestyle choices, more self-care and more self-compassion!
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