There is no denying that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on many people’s attitudes towards self-care, and it has become one of the biggest buzzwords of the past year.
Throughout lockdown, more of us made time to do things that were good for our overall wellbeing and realised the benefits in doing so. However, as restrictions ease and many of us return to our ‘pre-pandemic’ lives with less free time on our hands, it is easy to deprioritise truly taking care of ourselves.
Focusing on your wellbeing has never been more important. It can help you cope and adapt to new changes in post-lockdown life and the anxiety that comes along with it and, by taking time out of your schedule for some TLC, you can ensure you not only look after your physical health, but your mental health, too.
Here, Aradhana Bhandari outlines the importance of maintaining self-care post-lockdown and the benefits it can bring.
Nourishing your body with healthy foods is an important aspect of self-care and is one that is often over-looked. Eating a balanced diet that provides your body with sufficient nutrients boosts the immune system and plays a significant role in other aspects of self-care, such as exercise, providing you with the vital energy needed.
Your daily food choices can also have a huge impact on your mood and ability to cope with stress. Research has found that our gut health can influence both the body and the mind. Studies show that the trillions of microbes that live in the gut can affect how the brain works, and when they become imbalanced, can contribute to stress and anxiety.
Eating foods that are good for the gut and help aid digestion, like prebiotic and probiotics such as garlic and kombucha, anti-inflammatories such as turmeric and curry leaf, and fibrous foods such as flax seeds and figs, can be a good way to keep microbes balanced, helping to reduce stress and anxiety.
Cooking can also be a great activity to de-stress and can offer therapeutic benefits, allowing you to take time out of your day to nourish your body with the food it needs.
Lockdown has been extremely challenging for many people, and their mental health has suffered as a result. Factoring in self-care, whether it be through meditation, exercise, reading, putting on a facemask, listening to music or other activities, has and will continue to help many get through these times of uncertainty.
Having a well-cared-for mind can boost self-esteem and trigger thoughts of gratitude. This can contribute to long-term feelings of wellbeing when practiced regularly and can have a positive impact on your mindset. Self-care is also a great way to de-stress, especially as the next couple of months will involve significant change.
Although the easing of restrictions is positive and a sign that the situation is improving, it can also provoke feelings of anxiety and stress. You may have grown used to or found comfort in your lockdown lifestyle and having to adjust to a new routine may feel overwhelming. Self-care plays an essential role in how you respond to the uncertain or stressful times in your life, which is why it is still so important as life returns to ‘normal’.
Three of the main aspects of a healthy lifestyle are exercise, diet and sleep. As we move out of lockdown, maintaining a healthy diet, good sleeping pattern and regular exercise is extremely important in building a self-care routine that fits around your new schedule.
Endorphins generated by exercise make you feel good mentally, whilst looking after your body physically. Exercise can also improve other areas of our health, such as our quality of sleep and eating habits.
By having exercise as part of your self-care routine, you can add structure to your days and provide time to focus on bettering yourself.
Self-care takes different forms for different people, but it’s all about finding what works best for you, and what makes you feel good. It is a necessity, not a luxury, and is something we should all continue to make time for post-lockdown.