How to Practice Self-Care During a Time of Uncertainty
By Sierra Turner
“Lets start this post off with everyone taking a deep breath. Don’t worry, I’m doing it over here, too, as I write these words."
It’s ironic, really. Ironic, as in the past- anyone who told me I needed to breathe likely was on the receiving end of invisible daggers coming from my eyes. But here we are, and I’m telling you to breathe- I’m telling myself to breathe- and I think we all could do with a reminder to just. breathe.
There is a lot going on in the world right now. Things feel heavy, and there is a lot of fear. Do you feel it too? As someone with a long-standing battle with Anxiety, it’s easy to become wrapped up and immersed in the articles, statistics, news, and conversations regarding COVID-19.
I was reflecting the other day on how this pandemic could (and likely would!) have been detrimental during my darkest days in my Eating Disorder. Feeling the need to isolate, avoiding seeing friends, spending less time in public places (I.e., food shopping at the grocery store, etc.)... Well, my Eating Disorder could very well have taken the upper hand on this situation, and used it to its advantage. I reflect with immense gratitude (and even a bit of pride!) that I’m in a place where I can make these decisions for me. I know that being social (albeit mostly virtual at this point!) is integral to my mental and physical health, as is proper nourishment, fresh air, and rest- YES, sleep is vital! And I’ve come to realize that over the past couple weeks, my sleep has taken a bit of a position on the back burner, as my anxiety levels rose and the dialogue from those surrounding me instilled that fear. This is new territory for our world as a whole; It’s scary, unnerving, unsettling, and uncomfortable.
This is a great opportunity to practice some skills that come in handy during Eating Disorder Recovery. I try to look at this all as an experiment- what can I try out today? What worked/didn’t work/felt good/didn’t feel good yesterday? How can I use this time to really get to know myself? I truly believe that these skills will be beneficial in the long run of life. I want to share them with you, as they have been a great reminder to myself these past couple weeks.
- Set boundaries: If you’re finding yourself being present in a number of conversations with those who bring up the virus, kindly ask if you can change the subject to something a bit more light-hearted. I’ve been doing this on occasion, and it feels good change the topic to funny things like the newest dog video on Tik Tok, or hilarious childhood memories.
- Unfollow/hit pause on social media accounts that leave you feeling unsettled: This was hard for me, as some people I had to unfollow were people in my immediate life, or close to me. I felt guilty for taking this action, and have further realized how much less anxious I feel.
- Take a social media break: Maybe even this is a good idea! Take a day, two, or even a week off of your Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. If you feel that everywhere you look and read, someone is sharing something about the virus, perhaps it’s time to put the phone down, and do something else!
- Self Care: That Netflix series you have been meaning to watch? Watch it! Been meaning to call your grandma? Call her! Have a stack of books waiting to be read? Get reading. Have a recipe you have wanted to try out? Make it!
- Rest: This one is important! Use this time to get to bed a bit earlier, or have that nap that has been calling your name. Maybe rest to you is listening to a podcast, or practicing a guided meditation (I’m super into insight timer these days! Highly recommend).
- Laugh: Yes, you gotta laugh! Laughter, after all, is the best medicine. So turn on that wonderful Pixar film or friends episode, find some fabulous memes, or look up ‘world’s most terrible jokes’... I promise you will giggle.
- Connect: Yes, there are still ways to connect! I’ll be honest, this has been difficult for me - not having the luxury of seeing friends whenever I please; however, there are ways to get creative! Perhaps you face time with a friend while eating your supper? Maybe you can get out for a walk in the fresh air while chatting on the phone- it’s like using walkie-talkies all over again! I’ve even gotten onto Netflix at the same time as friends, all beginning our show collectively. It’s like we are together. It’s okay to feel lonely, it’s okay to feel isolated, AND it’s okay to find a way to still meet this need.
- Self Compassion: This is so important! If the tears come, let them flow. If anger or fear arrises, feel it! Perhaps you call someone to process these feelings, or use your journal as an outlet. It is integral that we treat ourselves with compassion for whatever comes up- what you feel is valid!
Notice how familiar these tools sound? These are all a reminder of ways you can take care of YOU- not only now with the state of the world, but also during recovery from your Eating Disorder. That’s the beautiful part of Recovery - you become so self aware of what you need/don’t need, and how to prioritize yourself and your mental health.
Try to lessen any judgement toward yourself and bring self-compassion into your personal dialogue. It’s important to be aware of the nature of the situation at our hands; however, I encourage you to protect your heart and mind during this anxiety provoking time, if you find yourself overwhelmed in fear. Take care of you!
Sierra is a student on the journey & discovery of life, dedicated to seeking out the little joys in each and every day. She is passionate about Mental Health, and currently exploring her future of hoping to support those with Mental Illnesses and Eating Disorders in a professional way. You can often find her exploring one of Vancouver’s best coffee shops, soaking up a sunset, walking by the ocean with her pup, or trying a new flavour of ice cream!