Does navigating this strange time in our world have you feeling off kilter, not quite like yourself? I get it. While I feel on top of things for the most part, almost daily I experience moments when I feel like I’m a character in an unsettling science fiction movie. But this COVID-19 battle is no movie. And our feelings our real, too. Let’s talk about 12 tips that might help you feel more like yourself in the coming days.
I never would have thought just a couple of months ago that I’d be writing a post title that included that phrase, social distancing. It’s an odd time we live in right now. And while I refuse to think of it as our new normal and prefer to consider this just a strange season, I have a feeling this season may endure a good while longer.
Just the thought of social distancing has most of us grappling with emotions that are foreign and new to us. And so it’s important that we take some positive steps to coach ourselves – and perhaps our loved ones – through these days in an emotionally, mentally and physically healthy way.
Healthy self-care is more than taking the occasional bubble bath or exercising regularly…even during the best of days. But right now, during these days of social distancing, we may need to dig even deeper and push ourselves a little more firmly toward healthy practices that could really make a difference in our disposition.
Not that we should be hard on ourselves. No, I’m all for giving ourselves a little grace and being as gentle on ourselves as we would a sweet friend. But you and I know that if we give ourselves too much slack, we’re prone to slipping into an unhealthy abyss during days of such uncertainty.
So, yes, be kind to yourself, dear gal. But see if these 12 tips don’t help you feel more like yourself as you continue to stay home more than usual. The goal is simply to once again feel in touch with your own emotions, to feel capable and somewhat in control, and to feel like you’re moving forward rather than getting stuck in a downward spiral.
#1 – Keep some routines in your day
Your daily schedule may have changed significantly during this stay-at-home mandate, but it’s still important to have some routine in your day. I encourage you to stick to some of your old routines – maybe the habit of daily making your bed or your nighttime routine – but also to create some new routines that work better for this “strange season.” Maybe now you’ll have tea every afternoon at 3 o’clock. Or maybe you could take a stroll around the neighborhood after lunch each day.
#2 – Take time for daily prayer and/or meditation
As a Christ follower, I think it’s important to begin each day with reading Scripture and prayer. That quiet time each morning helps me remember that God is in control, that He loves me and that He is at work, both in the world and in my life. I use the First 5 app for my morning quiet time.
But even if you’re not a Christian, you’ll find your day begins and flows better if you take time to get centered at the beginning of the day. I also like to take time for meditation and prayer later in my day. Consider using the Christian meditation app Abide or the secular app Calm. They both feature bedtime “stories” or meditations, too.
#3 – Get outside a little each and every day
Even if you have to carry an umbrella or put on a jacket, get outside for some fresh air every day. Yes, even if you don’t normally spend much time outdoors, you’ll find the fresh air and the sounds of the world going on around you will help you feel more a part of the world, your community.
#4 – Exercise regularly, even daily
During this unique time, I encourage you to exercise even more than normal. Because you’re probably not putting in as many steps as you would if you were getting out and about, pushing yourself to take an extra walk or do some additional workouts will actually just keep your circulation healthy and those extra pounds at bay.
Consider trying something new. You might add some yoga, Pilates or barre workouts. Check YouTube for free workouts of all kinds. I participate in the FASTer Way to Fat Loss, where I get daily home workouts on an easy to use App or a computer portal. You can check it out here. They’re starting a new round today in fact, and you would have immediate access to everything you need to help you eat healthy and stay fit. Use code STAYWELL and save 25% off the regular price of registration. (This is a first and only price reduction!)
#5 – Drink plenty of water and eat a healthy diet…for the most part
Absolutely give yourself a little grace and have a treat now and then. It may sound contradictory, but I’m a firm believer in the power of comfort food! Can I get an “amen?”
But if you want to feel more like yourself, you’ll want to stay, ahem, regular, too. So it’s even more important to eat a diet filled with healthy fruits and vegetables and good grains. And staying hydrated with plenty of water will make you feel more vibrant and energetic.
#6 – Stay connected to your people
Not only do I suggest that you reach out regularly to your friends and family members, but connect with your “regular people,” too. It’s easy to text the people you normally see but are not around right now. People like your hairdresser, nail technician or Bible study teacher. You could check in occasionally with your co-workers, your child’s school teacher, the gals in your exercise class or women at your favorite yarn shop. Keeping in touch with the people who make up your “normal life” will help you feel more like yourself.
#7 – Get dressed each day
Even if you just change out of your pajamas and into leisure wear, you’ll feel more like yourself if you get dressed for your day. I’ve got tips for what to wear while working at home in this recent post.
#8 – Do your hair and apply some makeup
Honestly, I don’t do this every day even under normal circumstances. But I do feel more like my authentic self when I take the time to put on a little makeup and fix my hair a bit. It doesn’t take that much time.
#9 – Take some time for yourself…alone
Even if you’re social distancing, you’re probably spending more time than ever with a few people in your life. And while you love those people, you probably still need some time alone each day. They say that the clear majority of people are introverts. Which means most of us need alone time to recharge and feel most like ourselves.
Take time for a solitary walk, drive around town, trip to the grocery story or time in your garden.
#10 – Reach beyond yourself in some small way every day
Text a friend. Call a senior adult or other person who is more restricted. Donate blood. Do a kind deed. Pray for others and let them know. But every day try to do some small thing that pulls you out of your own thoughts and concerns and into the lives of other people. As a result you’ll feel more like yourself because you’ll be connecting with other people.
#11 – Express your feelings
Some of us are better at expressing our emotions than others. But the key is to express those feelings in a healthy and timely way. Journal about how you’re feeling, write a letter to a friend or family member, hop on Skype or Facetime or just a phone call with someone you feel comfortable spilling the beans to. Pray out loud, tell your pet all about it and cry if you need to.
Every feeling you’re having right now is real and worthy of expression. Do you need to stay stuck in these emotions? Probably not. But I find I do indeed stay stuck in them if I try to bottle them up. You’ll feel more like yourself and healthier to boot if you express your feelings in an appropriate way and then move on with your day.
One more tip in this area. If you find yourself consumed with uncertainties, anxiety or hard feelings, set aside a particular time of the day to think about those things. Express them fully at that time, and then move on. When I limit the time I can deal with those hard emotions, I’m freed up to go about my regular tasks and work the rest of the day, and I am more prone to express myself in a healthy way.
#12 – Line up some laughter
When I find that I’m not feeling like myself it’s usually because somewhere along the way I’ve lost my sense of humor. And truly, much of what’s going on around us right now isn’t funny. People are getting very sick and many are dying. And the economy and our personal finances are taking serious hits. So it’s very likely that the pervasive emotions you’re feeling right now are more akin to grief than humor.
But if we’re going to be able to handle the tough things coming our way, we’re going to need to be emotionally, mentally and physically healthy. And laughter is key to that kind of well-being.
Are you not feeling like yourself these days? I get it. Most of us have been on a bit of an emotional roller coaster recently, I’m sure. On the other hand, if you are consistently feeling despondent and hopeless, please reach out to someone for more help. Here’s a resource I suggest if you’d like to talk with someone who can help.
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Blessed for My Day
It’s perfectly normal and even healthy to consider our circumstances, to mull over the changes we’ve experienced and the uncertainties that tease us. But it’s not healthy to dwell there too long. Instead, we must look up and remember.
Today let’s look to God, the One who is still in control and loves us deeply. And let’s remember that He is good, He is at work and He is faithful. Let’s not allow our hearts to remain sad or disturbed. Let’s choose to shift our thoughts from our feelings to what we know is true.
My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope ~ Lamentations 3:20-21