In these uncertain times, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. The 24-hour news cycle, worries about your loved ones, and spending a lot of time alone can all contribute to a lot of stress on your psyche. Some of the things you'd normally do to make yourself feel better (like going to the therapist, visiting family and friends, or going to the gym) may not be accessible at the moment. So what can you do?
If you're practicing social distancing to help slow the spread of coronavirus, take some time to take care of yourself too. That's why we're advocating for what we like to call "self-care-antine," or the art of prioritizing what you need while you wait out this virus. Whether you finally read that book that's been on your nightstand forever or you just need something to pass the time and distract your mind from the stresses of the world, read on for these simple ideas to make the most of your time at home.
DIY A Face Mask
Up your usual skincare routine with an at-home face mask. Don't worry if you've already run out of your favorite mask — you can DIY one with pantry staples. Want something hydrating? Hello Glow recommends blending ½ cup plain yogurt and ¼ cup strawberries and applying to your face for 20 minutes. Want something acne-fighting? They also recommend mashing an avocado with one tablespoon of raw honey, and half a lemon and applying for five to ten minutes.
Take a Break From Social Media
Social media can be great for connecting with old friends and following Chrissy Teigen's hilarious Twitter account, but in times of crisis, it can lead to misinformation and major stress. Take an hour or two to log off and decompress. Watch a silly show or a movie you've been waiting to see and take a minute for you.
Organize Your Closet
Sometimes self-care isn't just beauty routines and yoga practice, but making your house a home. It can be hard to stay calm when your house is cluttered. Take this time to go through your closet and make piles of what to keep, donate, or sell. You can also organize your kitchen cabinets, medicine cabinet, or anything else that's been causing you stress lately.
Read a Book You've Been Putting Off
Chances are, there are piles of unread books cluttering your house or apartment. The Japanese call this "tsundoku," or the art of collecting books without reading them. Whether there's a massive biography you haven't brought yourself to start or a fun thriller you've been saving for your next beach vacation, this is the perfect time to distract yourself with a great read.
It's not a new trend: many millennials have turned to baking to help relieve stress. A 2018 article in The Atlantic detailed how the act of baking is really an act of mindfulness, and concentrating on measuring ingredients and following a recipe can take your mind off a stressful day. Plus you get a delicious treat at the end - what's not to love?
Whether you're a diehard yogi or you've never set foot on a mat, yoga practice can help alleviate stress plus give you a little exercise and increased flexibility. Try a restorative flow for some gentle stretching and breathing or a more vigorous vinyasa practice for some heart-pumping exercise. The best part? There are a ton of free classes available to stream on YouTube.
You don't have to be good at art to get the benefits of putting paint on canvas. Go abstract a la Jackson Pollack and splatter paint or be more deliberate with a landscape or self-portrait. Even a paint-by-numbers can help distract your mind from the news of the day.
Call Family and Friends
It's important to stay connected to friends and family in times of stress and uncertainty, even if you can't physically be with them. Texting or video chatting with your parents, siblings, or friends can help you stay calm and grounded during times of stress.
Never tried meditation? Now's a great time to start. Download an app like Headspace or follow our guide to transcendental meditation to help calm your mind.
Play a Brain Game
What better way to spend some time at home than work out your brain too? Practice your random knowledge so you're ready to impress at the next bar trivia night or finally tackle the New York Times Sunday crossword. Now, that will take some time.
Try a New YouTube Workout
If you're feeling up to it, YouTube has a wide variety of exercise videos to stay fit (and give you some much-needed endorphins). Choose from HIIT and boot camp classes or yoga and pilates. The gym can come to you!
We all say we're going to start keeping a journal one of these days, but now's a great time to actually start. You've got nothing but time on your hands, and what better way to process all of the feelings you're going through than writing them down? You can also focus on the positive and start gratitude journaling, whichever is more helpful to you.
Karim F, Oyewande A, Abdalla LF, Chaudhry Ehsanullah, R, Khan, S. Social Media Use and Its Connection to Mental Health: A Systematic Review. Cureus. 2020. doi:10.7759/cureus.8627
Janssen M, Heerkens Y, Kuijer W, van der Heijden B, Engels J. Effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on Employees’ Mental Health: A Systematic Review. PLoS ONE. 2018;13(1):e0191332. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0191332
Shohani M, Badfar G, Nasirkandy M, et al. The Effect of Yoga on Stress, Anxiety, and Depression in Women. Int J of Prev Med. 2018;9(1):21. doi:10.4103/ijpvm.IJPVM_242_16