Self-Care Tips During Times of Stress

It’s been several months since I last wrote a blog post due to having a busy schedule right now. I intended on sharing a recipe or something strictly food-related for this post, but since the coronavirus is a huge concern of everyone I know (including myself), I’ve decided to share some basic self-care tips that may help others feel more at peace during this time of chaos.

On a personal note, several months ago I started a full time position as a clinical dietitian in a busy county hospital, while still keeping my per diem job at a smaller hospital…and continuing to see a few private nutrition counseling clients…and also teaching a yoga class or two. So, it’s been a crazy few months. I never expected to be working in healthcare during a worldwide pandemic, but here I am. I’m anxious about the situation, and judging by the dearth of toilet paper and non-perishables at several grocery stores I’ve visited, I’m not the only one who is feeling this way. I do think that during times of stress, it’s important to practice skills that can help with anxiety. So, here are my tips:

  • Practice social distancing, but shift your perspective

COVID-19 is highly contagious, and according to the most recent findings, one person infects 2 to 2.5 others on average without preventative measures. A major preventative measure is to self-isolate, even if you don’t have the virus. Instead of feeling a sense of panic, shift your perspective to viewing this as a collective act of cooperation to protect others. Total self-isolation may not be possible for those who work in healthcare, but social distancing (or avoiding other people whenever possible) can be done whenever possible if you don’t work in healthcare.

  • Take the CDC’s advice seriously but also take breaks from constantly consuming news about COVID-19

You don’t have to turn a blind eye to the reality of the situation, but constantly consuming information about the pandemic can lead to more anxiety/stress. Instead, try to block out 10-15 minutes of your day to read about current events and when you’re done, do something completely unrelated (like listen to music, go for a walk, call/text your family/friends and talk about a different topic) to avoid ruminating on anything that may cause you stress.

  • Spend your free time on new (or old) hobbies

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, now can be the perfect time to reacquaint yourself with a hobby or project that you haven’t had the time for to offer some distraction. Read books that you may have collected over the years but never got around to, do something creative, spend time in nature, take a bath or hot shower. Although it might seem tempting to use this time to “treat yo’self” to mindless online purchases, keep in mind that the best forms of self-care are usually free.

  • Try to eat healthy, avoid hoarding processed food, and try not to use food to cope with stress

There are no proven supplements or any specific way of eating to avoid getting sick with a virus, including COVID-19, but consuming a healthy diet rich in whole,unprocessed food is one way to keep your immune system strong. Feeling a sense of scarcity and panic when food shopping may make you feel like you need to stock up on snacks, frozen dinners, and other convenience foods. Turning to food during times of stress is normal, but when it becomes a habit, it can have longterm negative consequences. By buying highly processed, palatable food, you might feel more tempted to overindulge, especially if its available during times of stress, so I recommend avoiding buying these foods all together (or purchase in small quantities). Instead of using food for comfort, seek out healthy staples, like whole grains, canned/bagged beans, frozen veggies- or buy fresh (which can be frozen) so that you can prepare easy meals at home. Try doing your food shopping online if options are limited in stores. Experiment with recipes using food that you already have.

Let me know if you found any of these tips helpful and feel free to connect with me via Instagram @ vitaminvalentine

-Jess