It is 4th April, 2020. As the crisis mounts, we find ourselves tangled up in a situation that is both alien and unreal. The coronavirus that first appeared in December 2019 (yes, just days before the New Year) has now left us questioning our everyday practices.
Presently, even though none of us can predict when normal life will resume post-quarantine, there’s this one thing we can all agree on — once we do come back from this hiatus, let’s pledge not to take life for granted.
Let’s not take for granted all the family gatherings, birthday celebrations, graduations, coffee with friends, hugging your loved ones, the habits, the pleasures and conveniences of daily life. But as of now, during such difficult times, self-care slips to the bottom of our list of concerns. This in turn may affect your productivity, mental health, and your relationships ― leaving you more vulnerable to stress.
Here are seven suggestions to help you take care of yourself during the coronavirus pandemic, both physically and emotionally.
Take a break from the news
Stress and anxiety go hand-in-hand. In this digital era, between the news and social media, we are far too saturated with all the coronavirus updates. While it is important to stay well informed, it’s equally essential to know where to draw the line.
At this point of time, limiting your screen time is remotely not possible, but you can choose the media sources you interact with on a day-to-day basis. Limit your exposure to only few credible sources and access these only once a day. Follow your local government websites or social media handles. Within the United Arab Emirates, you can either follow the Ministry of Health and Prevention, or Dubai Health Authority for updates on the coronavirus.
Avoid overindulgence of news, articles and posts. If you know someone self-isolating with anxiety, depression or other mental health issues, try to check up on them and let them know you’re around to help. Also, don’t judge others for their anxieties or reactions.
Create a sense of structure and routine
Create a new routine that suits your current situation. A routine that would allow to stay on track despite all challenges and one which will help you achieve your life goals. Consider this as an opportunity to complete the backlog of work that has been largely sidelined for long.
Use this time for brainstorming, or for following any academic pursuits, content writing or any other hobbies. All in all, make time for activities you enjoy like painting, reading, watching movies; or even things you’ve never done before. You can also make time for some easy, do-at home exercises and stretches. Get those endorphins up and running!
Be grateful for all that you have
“If you are grateful, I will surely give you more and more”
― (Ibrahim 14:7)
As a Muslim, this is what we believe. If you are truly grateful for what you have, the All Mighty will reward you for showing gratitude. Spend some time in your day to think about your blessings or things that make you happy. We all have something to be grateful for, whether it is our family, roofs over our heads or daily food to eat. Research has shown that writing down what you are thankful for can trigger a wellness cascade. So, call it prayer, zikr, meditation, gratitude ― cultivate this habit in your daily routine.
Stay (virtually) connected
Stuck at home due to the coronavirus pandemic? Thankfully, you still have the option of video chats to unwind with friends and family. Virtual meetups helps you stay connected despite the physical distancing and isolation. Within United Arab Emirates, you can access any of the Etisalat and Du network approved VoIP services or Zoom video conferencing app.
Make a homemade meal
Good nutrition is always important, but during such stressful times there’s nothing better than a hearty homemade meal. Choose a diet that is high in antioxidants and low in sugar to boost your immune system. Take your time, experiment in the kitchen, seek out activities where you can involve your children, like baking bread, a birthday cake or even decorating cookies.
Declutter your space
Since you are now spending more time at home, you can start organizing your work space, your kitchen, your skincare cabinets and rooms. While it may sound like a daunting task, try decluttering for five minutes a day. Pick a shelf to start with, or your vanity units. My favorite ones to organize are my perfume and skincare cabinets! 🙂
Change your skin-care routine
Since most of us are self-isolating to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, it is likely that you’re spending less time outdoors. One of the biggest skin concerns that you might be having would be chronic dryness. Over washing your hands, spending long hours in an air-conditioned environment with little to no sun exposure. While this can be considered disadvantageous for some, it is also a good time to think about your skincare routine, your self care, your general well-being. Give your skin the extra TLC it needs at this time, focusing on corrective treatments and you won’t regret it later.
For your hands, apply the moisturizer while your hands are still damp. This will help trap the moisture in and increase effectiveness of your hand cream. Also, when using your hand cream overnight, wearing cotton gloves on top can be very helpful. Some of the brands that I can recommend are: La Roche Posay, Aveeno, CeraVe and Cetaphil.
For your face, its time to amp up your skin’s hydration. Look for products with Hyaluronic Acid in them. You can read all about it here. It’s time to start using those sheet masks, hydrating creams and corrective skin treatments.
Finally, social distancing does not mean we can’t feel close to our loved ones. In fact, it has re-shuffled our priorities and has reminded us of some basic life principles. It has reminded us to spend more time with loved ones, cherish every fleeting moment, and re-connect with everyone you care the most for. I want you to believe that together we can brave through this, flatten the curve and conquer this virus.
Also, I think it’s important to appreciate all the health care workers for their relentless efforts. Coming from a family of doctors, I can see the exhaustion in their eyes and yet they are committed to meeting this challenge head on. There are no words grand enough to thank those on the front-lines, they are our health heroes, our special people.