How a psychotherapist is managing her mental health during coronavirus
Sundays are a day to recharge and reset, whether it’s through hanging with friends, turning off your phone, or bathing for hours on end. In this column (tied to our Instagram Self-Care Sunday series), we ask editors, experts, influencers, writers, and more what a perfect self-care Sunday means to them, whether it’s about tending to their mental health, physical health, community, or personal joys. We want to know why Sundays are important and how people enjoy them, from morning to night.
Life transitions are hard no matter what; after all, as you begin a journey of uncertainty and self-discovery, you’re leaving behind comfortability and security. But when you’re in the middle of a pandemic, acclimating to a new stage of life is especially challenging, as psychotherapist Liz Beecroft has learned.
When coronavirus (COVID-19) first spread to America, Beecroft was in the midst of a big transitional move. And while she admits that the last few Sundays have been a little hectic, she’s been using self-care rituals to feel calm and find balance. “Between this life transition and the current state of our country, I’ve been trying to balance between taking a day for myself to have some down time and practicing self-care, as well as prep for the week ahead,” she explains. “I was able to do some of that last weekend despite the move and, luckily, I’ve spent time meditating and listening to music and relaxing on my couch.”
Beecroft isn’t alone in her efforts to feel okay these days. According to a survey by The Marist Poll in conjunction with NPR and PBS News Hour which surveyed 835 American adults, 18% of Americans have lost their jobs or have experienced reduced hours from their work schedules. And with more than 18,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. alone, it can be difficult to feel relaxed and comfortable while so much is going on in the world, even if your job isn’t in jeopardy.
So for this week’s Self-Care Sunday, we connected with Beecroft to find out how she’s been managing her mental health during this overwhelming time. Here, in her own words, are her insights and tips for others who might be struggling.
Social connection is so important for mental health, and so is our environment. We’re currently limited: stuck in one spot and surrounded by the same faces (i.e. roommates, family, significant others), or hanging by ourselves. This can definitely bring on symptoms of anxiety as well as other mental health challenges, like depression.
My wind-down practices are putting on a calming playlist, lighting a candle, sometimes cooking a meal with my boyfriend to practice mindfulness and enjoy bonding, or just sitting and watching a movie. I think being able to just let my mind not work too hard is something that allows me to wind down and not focus on the current stressors.
At-home exercise routines
Besides lifting boxes up and down the stairs with the move, I’ve been stretching and looking up workouts on YouTube. I’m also partaking in challenges on social media that hold you accountable (i.e. an hour-a-day workout, accountability check-ins, etc.). Staying motivated is definitely difficult, but being able to go through it with someone else helps a lot.
Go-to solutions to prevent getting sick
I’m trying my best to be mindful of what I eat and put into my body. I drink a lot of water and try to avoid drinking any alcohol. I’ve also been making a lot of smoothies for breakfast to try to get some good nutrients in my body. I take a multivitamin and am prescribed allergy and asthma medications so I make sure I stay on top of those. I’m washing my hands a lot as well.
Staying connected with others
Phone calls, texts, FaceTime, and Nintendo Switch. I’ve definitely been doing my best to schedule “hangouts” with friends, which allows me to set those boundaries and stay productive throughout the day. It also gives me something to look forward to. My boyfriend and I live together, so we’ve also been playing board games and engaging in some healthy competition on Nintendo switch by playing Mario Kart.
Ways she’s helping the community
I’ve definitely limited my social media use during this time, but when I am active online, I’m trying my best to share tips and resources and be of support to others who may be feeling anxious right now. I’ve also been taking part in the 30-day positivity challenge that the brand Rastaclat started. Basically, we pledge to spread positivity to our community each day for 30 days.
My self-care routine consists of making sure I wake up early and have my coffee to get a good start to the day. I will usually take time to write out a to-do list, look at my schedule, and watch the news while enjoying my coffee, and then I’ll start my day.
After that, I try my best to stay focused on my work as I’m working remotely during this time. But I allow myself to take breaks in between: I’ll step out on my porch and get some fresh air, have some water, stretch, or call my mom.
At night, I’ll wind down and watch a movie on the couch, journal, and reflect on the day. I also will do my skincare routine, which is something that helps me relax. I use a mix of One Love Organics products and Glow Recipe products. I also make sure to have good-smelling candles in our apartment. A good scent is something that really improves my mood. Right now we have the Palo Santo Le Labo candle burning.
I always try to make sure I have my coffee in the morning, and I’ll have a (not-so-healthy) breakfast that usually consists of pancakes. I also make a point to have some alone time during the day. As mentioned, I live with my boyfriend and we also have a cat, and sometimes things get hectic, so I really value my alone time. I usually sit outside for a few minutes to just listen to the sounds and get some sun. I also make sure I clean on Sundays by straightening up and prepping the place for the coming week, which really helps me feel settled.
Advice for people having a tough time right now
I would definitely recommend practicing mindfulness. That doesn’t necessarily have to be meditation—just anything that helps you practice being present. For me, it’s cleaning, but for you, it could be learning a new skill, making art, listening to music, etc. It’s crucial to focus on the present and take things day by day. The more we focus on the unknown and the future of what may or may not happen, the more those feelings of anxiety may arise.
I also would recommend doing at-home workouts and stretching to get the blood flowing and to release those endorphins in your brain. There are also great apps out there for mental health, such as Happify, which uses CBT methods to boost your mood.
You can also maintain social connections by calling, texting, or FaceTiming your loved ones. For those in need, there are also online therapy services such as Talk Space or private practice therapists who can do Skype sessions. Having support right now is necessary.
Also, avoid too much exposure to the media and news outlets because it can become overwhelming and create more anxiety for us if we’re constantly consumed by what is happening. Try to set those boundaries.
Take things day by day. A good mental health routine comes gradually. Start by slowly adding new routines to your day and even if you have to schedule them in to maintain consistency and accountability, that’s perfectly fine. Once you start practicing self-care, over time, you should notice a difference. If you don’t, then that’s a good indicator it might not be a good match for you, which is normal. You can try something else that you think would work best for you. It’s okay to get creative with your self-care routine because, at the end of the day, you know yourself the best.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, HelloGiggles is committed to providing accurate and helpful coverage to our readers. As such, some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, we encourage you to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments, and visit our coronavirus hub.