Ten months and counting… The fatigue of entering yet another month of confinement is weighing on us all. Cabin fever, isolation, longer periods of darkness… So how do we survive another season of limitations without feeling deprived?
Our Empower team shares its mental-health-focused self-care tips:
“Release fear and judgment” – Malissa Grimsley
Judgment and fear are limiting beliefs that obstruct aligning with your higher self. Through mindful practices you can recognize and focus on stream of thoughts and separate them from emotions and physical sensations. Check in with yourself before making decisions. Malissa says, “when you find the mind spiraling, notice the thought and lean into compassion instead. By consciously shifting the energy, you train to align with your true authentic self.”
Try utilizing a fear/negative judgments chart. Keep track of any fears, criticisms, or negative thoughts about yourself or others. Write down when you made the judgment, where you were, what the negative thought was, and whom it was about. Continue this practice until you develop the self-awareness to consciously choose empathy instead.
“Practice mindful breathing” – Megan Luybli, MS, RYT, CLC
Mindful breathing is a tool that can help anchor yourself in the present moment. By paying attention to your breath, noticing its natural rhythm, and releasing judgment, you can cultivate a sense of inner peace and self-awareness. Megan suggests, “Take the time to focus on the breath to reduce stress and increase resilience and happiness.”
“Make peace with food” – Sarah Mann, RD, CSG, LDN
Meager consideration of dieting or restricting food groups can trigger impulses and cravings for foods you fear – sweet, fatty, and salty foods. Restriction leads to food fixation, makes food the foe, leads to overwhelming feelings of shame, and slows metabolism. Sarah advises to, “let go of any rigid rules and legalize all foods, giving yourself true permission to eat any food you desire. True permission means not feeling guilty or needing to “earn” foods through exercise or restriction.” No single food can affect your integrity, morality, or shape. Let a Sunday morning French toast be French toast, and not x-number of calories, fat, and sugar.
“Honor yourself with gentle nutrition” – Alexa Leomporra, MS, RD, LDN
Nourish your body by eating enough – not less. Alexa states, “this encompasses all foods – nutrient dense as well as indulgences.” Restricting food groups can reduce your metabolic rate and cause a loss of fat-free mass, primarily lean muscle. “Consume foods in type and quantity that make you feel good, both physically and mentally.” Consider the sensory characteristics of foods, the emotions triggered around nutrition, and whether your food choices bring enjoyment. Check out our Rule of 365 plan for a guide for building your meals. Need recipes? Download our free recipe collection to spark some new taste ideas.
“Soothe through the senses” – Andrea Barnes, MSCN, RD, LDN, FAND
Anxiety can make your body feel like it is in a constant state of emergency. A state of relaxation slows your heartrate and reduces blood pressure. Learning how to soothe yourself using your senses is a simple way to reduce physical symptoms of anxiety and relax.
Smell – Aromatherapy is a proven relaxation technique that can trigger positive memories and emotions. Burning scented candles, wearing or diffusing essential oils, baking, or getting outside to smell the fresh air are all aromatic ways to cultivate peace. Andrea’s favorite diffused essential oil combination is 6 drops of lavender, 6 drops of grapefruit, and 3 drops of rosemary. During the winter, try 5 drops of fir needle, 4 drops of sweet orange, 3 drops of cedarwood.
Touch – The skin is our largest organ with nerves that carry feelings directly to the brain. Ideas for pleasant tactile sensations include taking a warm or cool shower; wearing soft, comfortable clothes, carrying something velvety; or massaging yourself. Andrea says, “Winter is also the perfect time to rescue a pet, not just for the mutual companionship, but studies show that petting an animal triggers a release of oxytocin in response to the social bonding.”
“Find new ways to move” – Megan Luybli, MS, RYT, CLC
Our bodies are designed for motion, yet sometimes the recommendations for regular, daily physical activity just do not seem joyful, especially if your regular routine involves group classes or training in the gym. Megan suggests “trying out new ways to move by taking advantage of online classes from around the world, such as yoga and tai chi.”
“Accept your natural self” – Alyssa Andrew
Quarantine is the perfect time to embrace your natural self – no need for makeup, heat-styled hair-dos, dressy wardrobes, or the newest weight-loss trend. Cultivate self-acceptance by setting an intention to shift the paradigm from self-loathing and hatred to a celebration of strengths and all your body provides. Forgive yourself from past labeling and beliefs in superfluous body ideals. Alyssa says, “embrace yourself as you are and respect your diversity.” “Practice self-love and compassion by focusing on one positive affirmation or mantra daily.” She suggests:
- I am worth more than my appearance.
- I am grateful for everything my body allows me to do.
Get more positive affirmations here.