With much of the world in lockdown during the unprecedented COIVD-19 pandemic, many of us are working from home for the first time while also trying to juggle parenting, housework, health, and bills.
If you're unsure of your current employment status, financially stressed, worried, and anxious - and all while stuck in the house - it's imperative that you prioritise self-care. Creating balance and managing stress has never been more important.
So how can we cope with such a drastic change? We can focus on the things we can control, like our daily routine, mindset, food intake, supplements, and how we move our bodies and care for our minds.
There's a lot of pressure to keep doing, creating, and achieving over this time, but it's okay to slow down and take it day by day. Below we have detailed some of our favourite practices and activities to keep you calm and help you get through this testing time.
Yoga and Meditation
These ancient, grounding practices are becoming increasingly relevant as stress rises in our homes and all over the world. Even if you only have ten minutes to yourself, you can do a quick meditation via an app, or simply sit outside and notice the sounds around you.
Yoga is like meditation in motion, creating a sense of calm alongside deep stretches or more active movements, depending on the style you choose. Yoga classes are abundant online, many of which are totally free.
There's much to be said for the art of doing nothing, especially for those of us who are usually go, go, go! It might feel weird - or downright lazy - but if you need to rest and have some time out, now is a perfect time. You may choose to watch Netflix, read, nap, stare at the clouds, or veg on the couch with your phone. Do it. Just don't do it all day every day.
Consider a routine
A little structure is comforting. You may thrive with a full daily routine, or you might be averse to schedules, so choose how rigid you want to be here. If you have kids at home, a loose routine will help them know what to expect, even if it's just a basic one with set times for TV, dinner, and bedtime.
If it's just you, allocating a set time for a workout or meditation each day, for example, can help create a sense of accomplishment and normality. Make sure you schedule in fun things, too.
At a time like this, we are incredibly lucky to be able to stay connected to our loved ones via the phone and the internet. Daily communication via video call, phone call, or text message is our new social time. Make the most of it by planning virtual dinner parties, coffee dates, or Friday night drinks with friends, and regular debriefs with family members. In unfamiliar times, we need our loved ones more than ever.
If you're feeling ambitious, why not tackle a drawer or a cupboard each day and get rid of any belongings you don't need? Clearing our physical space can help clear our mental space and create calm. It's an excellent time for a wardrobe purge - save any unwanted items to sell or donate to charity at a later date.
Level up: give the KonMari Method by Marie Kondo a go and learn how to fold a fitted sheet, store towels, and organise your t-shirts. You won't look back.
It's tempting to fill up on yummy treats while we're at home, but our bodies need extra nutrients during times of stress, and we're all keen to boost our immunity at the moment.
Keep it simple and aim for lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein. Hearty soups, bone broth, crockpot meals and warming foods are perfect as we head towards winter - keep meals cost-effective by bulking them out with rice and legumes. Now's the time to try some new recipes - if you're craving sweet treats, why not bake your own?
If your budget allows, extra vitamin C in powder or liposomal form is excellent for the immune system, as is daily zinc.
Get your nature fix
Absorbing yourself in nature is free and instantly soothing. If you don't have a backyard, take a stroll in your neighbourhood and take in the fresh air. Kick off your shoes and dig your feet into the grass to "earth" yourself and connect to electrons on the earth's surface. The practice of earthing may sound airy-fairy, but the science says otherwise. An in-depth report on the health implications of earthing published in the Journal of Environmental Health in 2012 concludes:
"Emerging evidence shows that contact with the Earth—whether being outside barefoot or indoors connected to grounded conductive systems—may be a simple, natural, and yet profoundly effective environmental strategy against chronic stress, inflammation, pain, poor sleep, and many common health disorders, including cardiovascular disease."
In trying times, small practices and habits can make all the difference. If you need some extra help, or you feel you're not coping, The New Zealand COVID-19 website has more information about mental wellbeing during this time.
For support with grief, anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, you can call or text 1737 – free, anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – to talk with a trained counsellor.
For many, home isn't a safe place. If you don't feel safe, or you're worried about someone, take note of the resources below.
0800 743 843 (0800 REFUGE)
Shine domestic abuse services
Free call 0508 744 633 (9am to 11pm) if you're experiencing domestic abuse, or want to know how to help someone else.
Safe to Talk - sexual harm helpline
0800 044334, text 4334 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Victim Support - 24-hour service for all victims of serious crime
0800 842 846