Posted 2 weeks ago

SELF-CARE in 2021

It genuinely pains me to still be writing about strategies to keep on top of our wellbeing during a pandemic. However, the reality of COVID-19 is still very much palpable (certainly in the UK), and this time around, we’re all feeling 10x (or should I say, 11 times?!) more exhausted than in March 2020.

After all, we have been here for – how long already?! And without knowing how or when we’ll come out on the other side, the common thread is that our self-care resources are running a bit thin, and/or are in dire need of a top-up.

From the very beginning, at VW Physique we have done our best to prioritise the health of our clients and followers during his time, and that doesn’t exclude mental wellbeing.

As such, here are some reminders and tips for you to keep taking care of yourself till better times come, and to develop these tools so that they support you beyond dealing with coronavirus.

  1. “Stay at home” does not mean “stay socially isolated”!

We’re all probably sick of zoom, but it’s worth re-sparking the excitement we all got from touching base with old friends, classmates, and distant family at the start of the pandemic. Use this nearly 1yr anniversary frustration to pick up the phone and chat to someone again. You can also organise an online workout with someone you know, or do your cardio with a teammate and chat. As a team, we organised many webinars in the first lockdown, which are available to view on YouTube, so why not get the headphones out and learn a little? And if you’re a client of ours, you’ll know to join in on our weekly team Zoom call for some banter and socialising!

  1. Don’t miss out on daylight

One of the things that has made this lockdown harder is that it hit us bang in the middle of winter, where days are short, dark and miserable. When you add in a sprinkle of snow, the thought of going outside is pretty much daunting. However, ensuring you still get some sunlight/daylight is incredibly important – even more so now!! It keeps your circadian rhythm on track, which affects both your sleep (crucial to maintaining good immune function) and our mood (stress management). Make sure you’re up and have your curtains open for as many daylight hours a day. The more direct sunlight you can get the better, so try spending time next to a window or balcony. Our best advice is to get outside first thing if you can and feel safe doing so – get your steps in early in the morning when the outdoors are quieter, and you can make the most of the first few bright hours of the day!

  1. Prioritise food

This is a CRUCIAL time to stay on top of your nutrition!! Saying “fuck it” and patching your goals away is probably the worst thing you could do for yourself right now. Not only will it negatively impact on your mental health, by making you feel like you’ve self-sabotaged your goals, but it will also make the re-entry point into the gym and normality 10x harder. Food and nutrition also play a huge part in your immune function, so taking care of yourself through nutrition is another form of practicing self-kindness.

  1. Don’t make every day pyjama day

While it might be tempting to live in your pyjama for a couple of months again, don’t! Try to stick to showering as often as you normally would, and make getting washed and dressed one of the first things you do with your morning. You might not wear the same clothes you’d have worn to work, but changing into “day clothes” can help us shift our mindset to get ready for a productive day; and like that, when you get back into your pyjamas at the end of the day, that’s a signal to your mind and body that it’s time to wind down again. If you’re struggling to find structure and motivation to do this, why not try doing your home workouts first thing in the morning, or going out for a walk first thing? That will force you to get changed, get moving and get going.

  1. Structure is still important

By this point, if you’ve been working during the pandemic, you probably haven’t set foot in the office for nearly a year. In this time, your WFH habits will have probably changed and adapted, and this is maybe a good time to re-assess where you’re at. How helpful is your current routine and structure? Can you create more boundaries to keep work and life separate? If the weight of the pandemic is bringing you down more so now, and you find that your workdays are just getting longer, you might also want to consider scheduling in a social call for the end of the day, so you’re not tempted to work later. If this is impractical, try asking a colleague or friend or teammate to check in with you at times during the day to keep you accountable. Structuring in breaks is as important as it always was – don’t fall into the temptation of being a productivity machine if you’re exhausted!!

  1. Look for the positives and remind each other of them

While this situation is really difficult, it doesn’t change the fact that days are getting longer, temperatures are rising, and with the vaccination roll-out in place, there is hope in the horizon. We’ve seen how other countries have been able to return to a degree of normality, so we know this is possible. Do your best to focus your attention on the small things that bring you joy, be grateful for them, and keep yourself steady.

At the end of the day, as a wise man once said: “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light”.

Clara Swedlund MSc MBPsS

This article was written drawing from resources posted on the “Coping With Coronavirus” Facebook group