Within the last month, routines and lives have been upended across the globe. None of us have ever been through something like the COVID-19 Pandemic, and there is a lot of uncertainty that arises when there are no clear answers for the future.
No matter what state or country you live in, most of us are under strict orders to stay home. For some it means temporary job loss, staying home with kids while juggling being a teacher and parent, and maybe even working from home. This also means that many of us have more time on our hands than ever before. For others, whose work is deemed essential, they must brave the real possibility of contracting this infectious virus to make sure that everyone else remains healthy, safe, and fed.
Regardless of your current “role” in the world, many of us are having a hard time just being in this new way of living. Our mental health is taking a toll, and it only takes a quick scroll through your socials to see that many people are having a hard time handling stress, anxiety, and depression–to name a few.
And since there are so many people struggling, there are countless self-care resources to help us cope with the current times, some of which will be listed at the end of this article.
Today, we want to focus on one value of self-care that can help to reduce stress, alleviate anxiety, and improve your mood that you can implement into your “new” daily routine: Practicing Kindness.
Kindness To Others
Practicing kindness produces endorphins (the brain’s natural painkiller). Perpetually kind people have 23% lower cortisol levels (that sneaky little stress hormone) and have also been shown to age slower than the average person. Practicing six acts of kindness a week can increase your endorphins and reduce your stress. And while that may seem like a lot, especially if acts of kindness are not already in your daily routine, acts of kindness can be very small and simple. Here are some ways that you can show others kindness (and not just during times of social distancing and stress):
- Give a person a genuine compliment
- Donate money to a local food bank or charity
- Support local businesses
- Smile at a stranger (from at least six feet away during social distancing)
- Send a letter of encouragement (this can be a text, email, or snail mail)
- Call your friends
- Leave reviews for your favorite businesses
- Make art with positive messages with your kids or spouse and hang it on the windows for passersby to see
- Do a chore for a loved one that they usually do
- Send someone in need (or just because) a gift card
- Connect with your family, whether that be your kids, your spouse, your dog, etc., put the phone down (unless this is how you’re connecting) and spend some quality time with someone for at least 30 minutes a day.
- Share words of encouragement, resources, or posts that have helped you on your social media pages.
Kindness To Ourselves
Often, practicing kindness to ourselves is much harder than showing kindness to others. However, this is equally, if not an even more critical practice during these times. A significant part of practicing kindness to ourselves is making sure our inner voice is being kind. People do this in many ways, but the primary purpose is to quiet the inner critic and focus on the positive. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Positive Affirmations
- Keep a gratitude journal. Write down three things in the morning or at night (or both) that you’re grateful for.
- Practice a loving-kindness meditation, like this one.
Another way to practice kindness toward yourself is by moving your body in ways that feel good to you and eating nourishing foods. Some ways to move your body could include:
- Going for a walk or bike ride
- Playing with your kids or animals
If you’re unsure of which foods you need to nourish your body in a way that’s best for your body type and lifestyle, schedule an appointment with a holistic healthcare provider in Oak Brook, IL. Even an over the phone consultation can help you to get started.
Lastly, during these times of extreme stress and uncertainty, at least once a day, do something for yourself. Whether that be taking five minutes to dance in the morning, dancing with your kids, enjoying your coffee or tea alone, keeping a gratitude list, getting ready for the day, not reading the news…you get the picture.
Most importantly, remember that even though you may feel alone, we are all in this together.
If you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, stress, or anything else that just doesn’t feel good in your body, contact Vitality Family Health today. Our Oak Brook, IL functional medicine providers are dedicated to supporting our patients during this time in whatever capacity we can.
Additional resources to help you cope during social distancing: