Sunday 10 May 2020

Self-Care and Self-Love during Covid-19 Quarantine

Thomas shares three tips for self-care during COVID-19 Quarantine—Routine, Creative Downtime and Giving & Taking. 
- Thomas Swain

The morning sun bleeds through the gaps in my bedroom curtains. It’s 10:40 AM. Day 12? 13? 20 of lockdown? Who’s even keeping track anyway. I roll out of bed (rather reluctantly) and start my day by browsing the news on the bog. I’m confronted by a macabre whirlwind of negativity. Overwhelmed healthcare services, isolated countries, mounting deaths, inept politicians…you get the picture. 

But how do we switch off from the endless COVID-19 noise? And how can we look after ourselves during a pandemic? — What we need is some good old-fashioned self-love. And we all deserve a bit of that.

1. Routine, routine, routine

Yep, many of us lost our dear old routines! Unless you’re a key worker, most of our plans, daily grinds and activities have been barred to the confines of our homes. At the beginning of the lockdown, I reverted to my summer holiday mindset: Watch videos until my eyes can’t stay open any longer, wake up at midday, watch more TV, eat ice cream and other snacks, may or may not exercise, and repeat the next day. Before I knew it, my readings were stacking up, important emails were going unread, and that lingering guilt was growing inside of me. I was feeding my stress monster. 

Little did I know how much I took going to work every day, and commuting to school or university—that much-needed change of scenery—for granted. Routine can help anchor us, reduce stress and keep us on top of our goals. The thing that’s stopping you from returning to your work, goals, projects is that sense of guilt. And it’ll only grow the more you shy away from it. 

It’s important to take back control, but do it slowly. Write lists, and tick off easily accomplishable tasks so you fire off that reward circuit in your noggin. It’ll make you feel great. Start small, for example:
Wake up before midday
Make my bed
Brush my teeth
Only have one piece of junk food (if at all)
Don’t look at the news before going to bed/after waking up
Read 5 pages of your textbook (no more, no less)
Write half a page of A4 notes from your textbook (no more, no less)
Notice tasks such as reading 5-pages of a textbook are easy to accomplish. By breaking things up into such small chunks, you’re conditioning your mind into accepting the possibility of working towards something you’re scared of, like a set of exams, an interview, etc.

2. Creative Downtime

You might not be able to head down to your local pub, or hit the gym with a mate—but that doesn’t mean your social life has to suffer in silence. We are social creatures who require some degree of interaction in one shape or form. Lockdown is a tough time for even the most introverted of us. That’s why you need to be creative when it comes to socialising. Use FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, or whichever tele-videoing platform you prefer to connect with your friends.

But what online activities can you do together? 
Video games… (board games, and the like, are readily found with a quick Google search—as well as fully-fledged multiplayer games like Minecraft)
Safaris, a virtual trips to a zoo or aquarium
Use Netflix Party to watch films together
Exercise/yoga classes
Make dinner together, or if you’re feeling exotic, cocktails

3. Giving and Taking

Altruism—the act of giving to others—goes hand-in-hand with self-love. In times like this, your first instinct may well be to lock yourself away in a cocoon and never come out. But this can be counterintuitive, especially in the midst of a pandemic—where social connections are limited, and uncertainty is at the forefront of many people’s minds. Isolating yourself further from the world will only serve to solidify those feelings of sadness and anxiety. 

Compassion is much needed during a time like this. And showing it to others will help to strengthen our communities, bolster our relationships and keep our mental health in check.
Volunteering for NHS volunteer. If the thought of delivering prescriptions isn’t for you, you can also just be a friendly face of support for someone over the phone/via texts. The NHS needs as much help as it can get, and the person on the other end of that phone WILL appreciate your support.
Do you have a friend in need? We all have challenging circumstances facing us, so it’s good to be that voice of reason for a mate that needs someone to rationalise their fears—or, simply to listen. Don’t forget about your own needs though, and remember to share your anxieties too. Conversations are a two-way street. 
Small acts of kindness. These come in all shapes and sizes. It can be delivering a food shop to a family friend, sending revision notes to a friend who’s been struggling, or walking a dog for someone who’s isolating. 

And of course, don’t forget a wealth of wellbeing hotlines and services (e.g. The Calm Zone, Samaritans and Big White Wall) are available if you need that extra bit of support 

Good luck out there!

For more information Student Space is here to make it easier for you to find the support you need during the coronavirus pandemic.

For further information on COVID-19 and looking after your mental health, click here

I am Thomas Swain, a GDL student studying at the University of Law’s Exeter campus. I have suffered with anxiety and depression since about 2014, and I have been open about my conditions in most areas of my life since. I am a strong advocate that the legal profession is in serious need of a transparency check when it comes to mental wellbeing and stress levels.

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