In the beginning, quarantine meant a brief escape from the nuisances of everyday life; cutting out commutes, a break from beauty routines, and a siesta from social obligations. However, as quarantine has dragged on and on we have found ourselves nostalgic for the good old days of rushing out the door to work and cramming into cramped bars. Between missing the way things used to be and worrying over what they might look like in the future, it is easy to let something as seemingly trivial as self-care fall by the wayside. However, studies have shown that engaging in self-care not only reduces stress but improves our overall quality of life. It is more important than ever to put yourself first and nail down your perfect quarantine self-care routine.
The Science Behind Self-Care
Self-care is not just charcuterie boards and lavender lotions. Self-care digs deeper and affects our mental and physical well-being.
When we do not practice self-care, the constant barrage of stress starts to accumulate. Instead of dealing with it head-on, we sweep the stress under the rug to deal with it “when we have time”. Unfortunately, if we do not make time to deal with our stress it will start to manifest in other ways. Studies have shown just how detrimental stress can be to our bodies. Chronic high levels of stress can lead to:
- Atrophy of the brain
- Debilitated cognition and learning
- Impaired memory
- Compromised immune system
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Rapid heart rate
- Changes in appetite
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Menstrual problems
- Trouble with libido
- Skin and hair problems
Developing a self-care routine helps us work out and release that stress. Furthermore, we can give extra doses of TLC to the parts of our bodies that need it the most. Puzzles and word games can stretch your overworked brain. Home workout videos get you up off the couch and get those endorphins pumping. A skincare routine from your favorite beauty guru can clear up those bumps before your next Zoom call. When you take care of your body, your body can take care of you.
If you have been struggling with your mental health in quarantine, just know that you are not alone. In May 2020, The Washington Post reported that nearly half of Americans had reported that coronavirus was harming their mental health. Our routines were interrupted. We were cut off from our friends, families, and coworkers. We are living in constant uncertainty.
In our work-obsessed society, taking a break feels taboo or lazy. We have conditioned ourselves to believe “these five minutes have to be spent doing one of the million things on my to-do list!” When we are constantly pushing and pushing to deliver instead of taking a break when we need it, we can actually be doing ourselves a disservice. We are perpetuating our own burnout and delivering lackluster work. Instead, that quick break can give us space and clarity to reignite and perform. We cannot take care of others if we are not taking care of ourselves. We cannot give 100% when our tanks are running on empty.
Self-care can help us reclaim our minds. Starting each day with a mindful practice such as meditation can help us recenter and reconnect our bodies and minds. Unplugging and getting enough sleep gives our minds time to recover from the challenges of the day. Even just creating a routine to follow helps us regain a sense of normalcy.
Ten Things You Can Do to Promote Self-Care
Now that you know why you should be practicing self-care, let’s dive into how we can do it. Customize your self-care routine to what you need. Listen to your body, tap into your mind, and really put some thought into what you want to gain. The beauty of self-care is there is no shortage of benefits to reap. Your self-care routine can deliver peace of mind, body positivity, new skills, and even your dream space. Some of our favorite ways to practice self-care include:
Investing in quality loungewear: Wearing sweats during our work calls was fun at first, but our stained college sweatshirts were in desperate need of some upgrading. That is why we keep grabbing for our Crescentt loungewear and pajama sets. These sets are made from high-quality materials and come in a variety of colors and cuts to suit all body types. The best part? Besides being decadently comfortable, they are made out of feel-good sustainable materials. That gives an entirely new meaning to the phrase “look good, feel good!”
Unplug from technology: Being locked indoors has us spending hours and hours each day parked in front of a screen. The blue light emitted from our devices stimulates our minds and strains our eyes. It can also be robbing us of quality sleep! Additionally, social media has us watching other people’s lives instead of living our own. Pledge to put away all devices an hour before bed and watch how much changes!
Connect with family and friends: Humans are social creatures! This last year has robbed us of so much human interaction that we even start to miss getting bumped in the coffee line. While in lockdown, set up a virtual way to connect. You can plan a Zoom happy hour with your friends, start a book club with your family, or get everyone together to play some games. When we can reenter the world, let’s join a workout group, take a cooking class, and find a way to interact with others. Building deep, meaningful relationships with others is crucial to our mental health and luckily there are plenty of fun ways to do it!
Adopt a new hobby: You know that list of things you always wanted to try “once you had time?” Well, quarantine has given us more time than we probably want! This is the time to find a new hobby or even hobbies. Try them all - bake, knit, paint, anything your little heart desires! The American Institute of Stress suggests that some of the best hobbies for de-stressing include puzzles, dancing, and doodling! Taking up new hobbies helps us unwind, develop new skills, and create a routine for ourselves.
Exercise: Exercise is one of the best ways we can take care of ourselves. Not only does it promote physical health, but it plays a role in our mental health as well. Exercise can promote healthy weights, body positivity, and improve our moods. If you can, try and exercise outside. Spending time outdoors increases our vitality and can help reset our circadian rhythms (plus, aren’t we all craving some time outside of our homes?). Check out YouTube for incredible workouts you can do in your home – no gym required!
Get enough sleep: Now that you have the perfect Crescentt pajama set, it is time to put it to good use. We rely on sleep to let our bodies and minds recover. When we start compromising on the quality and quantity of our sleep, we can experience fatigue, poor memory, high blood pressure, obesity, depression, and a slew of other mental and physical health problems. Most adults require between 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Create a bedtime routine that lulls you into a deep sleep. We recommend putting screens away an hour before bed and falling asleep and waking up around the same time every day.
Eat nourishing food: Sometimes we think self-care is a deep dish of cheesy pasta. While that feels good in the moment, eating a balanced diet keeps you feeling good for the long run. Create a Pinterest board with recipes you want to try and pick out a few to test each week. If you feel your diet is lacking the nutrient you need, consider adding in multivitamins or other supplements to fill in nutritional gaps.
Meditate: Meditation is a wonderful way to practice mindfulness. Meditation allows us a space to unplug from the stressors of everyday life, reconnect with our bodies and minds, and fill our days with gratitude. Meditation reduces stress and improves our moods. Check out YouTube and apps like Headspace for guided meditations. These guided meditations help ease beginners into the practice of meditation. You will be a professional in no time!
Set up your space: If we are going to be trapped indoors, it might as well be a good-looking indoors. Fill your space with comfortable furnishings and your favorite colors to spark joy. Consider adding in an essential oil diffuser as well. Aromatherapy can help us relax, give us boosts of energy, and simply make our space feel better. Make your room a safe space where you can relax and recenter.
Read: When we are stuck in one place, reading is how we can escape. Whatever you want to know, there is a book out there for you. Stock your shelves with books, journals, and articles about places you want to travel, people you find inspiring, and topics you have always been curious about. Reading can pique your curiosity, expand your creativity, and, let’s be honest, lull you into a great night’s sleep. Reading can enrich so many areas of your life. Sometimes self-care looks like self-development.
Laugh: This one is our favorite. Laughing lights up neural pathways that improve our moods and can lessen our response to stress. Laughing can boost our serotonin levels and limit the release of cortisol that can wreak havoc on our bodies. Switch on a stand-up special or rewatch your favorite Tik Toks for a quick physical and mental booth. Laughter brings levity and can light up your journey of self-care.