Spring Rejuvenation: Self-Care Steps for Hope and Well-Being
- Written by Barbara Bodzin, Executive Director
- Published: May 27, 2022
As we emerge from winter and embrace the warm, longer days of spring and summer, it’s important to take time to reflect on your own well-being, especially when it comes to worry and stress. Many people have found themselves feeling overwhelmed by the seemingly never ending cycle of global events that weigh heavily on their minds and spirits. Emotional fatigue caused by the war in Ukraine, national political and racial unrest, and the looming reversal of Roe v Wade, has only been amplified by the ongoing concern over COVID-19 and its variants. News burnout has left some feeling disconnected, avoiding news altogether in an attempt at self-preservation; others find themselves consumed by news media, unable to step back and appreciate ideas that may be different than those they hear coming through their television sets or smart phones. So, what can we do? The answer may look different for everyone, but comes down to balance, understanding ways to stay engaged while also fostering hope, and overall well-being. Here are some self-care steps to consider for increasing your sense of well-being during these unsettled times:
Spending as little as 20-30 minutes outside can reduce feelings of anxiety and naturally improve energy levels.
Brighten Your Home - The vitamin D from natural light can help to improve your mood. Make it a daily routine to open your window coverings including blinds and curtains. On warm days, open windows and let fresh air in. Fresh air, along with the scent of flowers and plants, can help relieve stress and boost feelings of happiness and relaxation.
Stay Active - Exercise, whether indoors or out, can be vital to releasing stress and boosting both your physical and emotional health. On nice days, consider going for a walk, gardening, or attending an outdoor class, such as yoga or Tai Chi. Indoor activities could include stretching, or participating in an online fitness class.
Go Outside - Spending as little as 20-30 minutes outside can reduce feelings of anxiety and naturally improve energy levels. The exposure to natural light and fresh air can also help your body’s circadian rhythm, allowing you to sleep longer and wake more rested. These benefits can be seen regardless of what you choose to do outdoors; so whether you enjoy bird watching, jogging, fishing, or simply sitting in the sunshine, getting outside is a great way to bolster your spirit.
Stay Connected - Find ways to create strong social connections. Have a picnic with a friend, attend group meetings and events, call someone that you haven’t spoken with in a while. Social isolation can have many direct and indirect negative consequences to your health, including sleeplessness, heightened anxiety, and even reduced immune function.
Take Steps to Protect Yourself and Your Community - Emotional distress often stems from feeling unsafe or helpless in a given situation. Take time to think about actions you can take to positively impact yourself and those around you. Worried about food insecurity in your community? Consider taking steps to create a community garden, or ask your local food bank how to get involved. Fearful that you may contract and spread COVID-19? Wear a mask when appropriate and make an appointment to receive your 2nd vaccine booster. Anyone 50 years of age or older is eligible, as long as you received your 1st booster at least 4 months ago.
Make a Schedule - Routines help keep your mood stable. Create a schedule for yourself that includes making healthy meals, socializing, and being active, both mentally and physically. Within your schedule, create a list of tasks, even small ones like making your bed, and do it every day. This type of activity will foster a sense of accomplishment and success which are mood boosters.
Volunteer Your Time - Whether it is an hour a week, or a daily routine, opportunities abound for ways you can give back to your community. You may consider volunteering through one of LifePath’s many program opportunities, such as driving others to medical appointments, becoming a Phone Pal, or delivering Meals on Wheels. You will be helping yourself as you help others, since volunteers have a greater sense of purpose and volunteering is an ideal way to combat stress and anxiety while staying engaged in your community. If you’re not sure where to start with volunteering, give RSVP a call at 413-387-4558.
Let Yourself Relax - In our information-driven society, it can be hard to find time to prioritize yourself. Build space into your schedule that allows you to step away from external stressors and instead engage in calm, grounding activities that focus on you. Consider putting a daily limit on the amount of time you spend on screens and consuming media. You might try meditation, read a novel, keep a journal, or simply set aside 10 minutes to do whatever speaks to you that day. Taking time to relax, however that looks for you, can boost your energy and aid in positive thinking. Other significant benefits include reduced blood pressure, less muscle tension, and better digestion.