During this current COVID-19 crisis, it is important to take care of ourselves physically. Why? Because our mind and body are connected. You might have noticed stress getting to you a bit more. Or you might notice that you have a quicker temper since social distancing started. It might even just feel like a total dip in mood without anything specific to point to. In any case, here are a few thoughts on ways to better take care of yourself while social distancing.
Even during the covid crisis we are still allowed to get outside and exercise. So I really encourage people to find some kind of activity that gets you moving and outside. For one reason, getting sun on skin gives us vitamin D. Increasing vitamin D and physical activity has been linked to positive changes in mood regulation. So go for a walk with your dog, take a bike ride, even just sitting outside in the sun while you read a book or work on our laptop can be helpful.
I would also recommend that you do this with your partner. Research shows that exercising with someone helps in bonding. So why not combine the two? Getting outside together helps your mood and helps you feel closer to your partner. That sounds like a win all around.
Eating & Nutrition
I will admit that this has been the most difficult portion for me since social distancing started. And I imagine that I am not the only one that has noticed an increase in their boredom eating. Food is the first thing outside of ourselves that we learn to self-sooth with. So it makes sense that during a time when we are cut off from friends, family. and relationships that we need that we might start eating more.
Everyone has felt that bloated gross feeling when you eat too much. And processed foods have a way of slowing us down even more. So, then you end up in a loop. You feel sluggish which makes you not want to do anything. Which decreases your physical activity, lowering your motivation. And when you’re unmotivated and bored you want to eat.
So I would recommend cooking with your partner. Sit down, have a talk about what kinds of things you might like to eat and make together. Then cook and eat together. Cooking a meal will usually be better than whatever processed thing you can find to eat when you’re bored which will help avoid that gross feeling you get when you eat junk. It also creates a way you get to turn a regular task into an opportunity to spend time together. Win/win for both of you.
Engaging Your Brain
I know that the amount of time I spend looking at a screen has increased since the quarantine started. There is definitely a need for mindless entertainment during this current crisis. However, screen time can have a negative effect on our attention span and sleep patterns. In turn this can affect your mood and motivation.
So I would recommend cutting the screen off 30 minutes before trying to sleep if you are struggling with that. And have times throughout the day that are dedicated to no screens. I would also recommend activities that require mental engagement without a screen. Reading, sudoku, or crosswords are nice for flexing our mental strength. And activities like puzzles or board games can engage our brains while participating with our partner or other family members.
If you are struggling with ways to take care of yourself during this pandemic, give The Marriage & Family Clinic a call. We can help you, your relationship and your family during this difficult time.
About the Author
Ryan Hicks is a licensed therapist and marriage counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, Colorado. He specializes in working with couples in high conflict and working with couples in the LGBTQ community. When he’s not working with couples, you’ll find him rock climbing or taking in the great outdoors of Colorado