Now, dating back every week since late April of this year, roughly a third of Americans have shown symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorders according to the National Center for Health Statistics which on the face of it sounds pretty disturbing.
Fortunately- we have Mihaela Vincze, Program Specialist for the nonprofit Transamerica Center for Health Studies and she’s joining us today to discuss self-care strategies which can aid & assist us in coping.
So Mihaela, when we refer to this “self-care” concept, what exactly are we talking about?
Mihaela: Self-care is any deliberate action that we take in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. It helps us prevent and cope with negative emotions such as stress, unhappiness, illness, and depression. It also provides relief when we feel overwhelmed, which is an extremely common sentiment these days. Ultimately, if we are not well, we cannot take care of ourselves or others. Self-care is not selfish; it is a necessity!
Al: Well…now that we’re seven months into this pandemic—walk us through how this year reinforced the importance and value of self-care?
Mihaela: Self-care is especially important now because individuals are experiencing so much change and uncertainty, combined with the pressures of everyday responsibilities. Many can attest that life almost seems like “too much,” and it may feel as though we have lost control of our own wellbeing. Self-care strategies can help us manage these negative emotions and reclaim ownership of our personal health.
Al: Got it. So now that we know what self-care is and how it can help us because many feel like they’re going sideways, how can individuals get started?
Mihaela: There are many ways to start prioritizing self-care, however, it may be helpful to conjure up a plan. You can divide your self-care routine into three categories— mental, physical, and emotional. Try completing a couple tasks from each category daily!
Al: Sounds good! Now could you give us some examples?
Mihaela: Of course! To care for your emotional health, you can call a friend or do something kind for someone else, such as sending a thank you note. By connecting with others, you will really lighten the burden of social distancing! For physical health, you can stretch in the mornings, go for a walk in the afternoons, or simply focus on getting enough sleep— anything that helps your body feel energized can boost your overall wellbeing. Lastly, for mental health, journaling and meditation are great strategies to self-reflect and de-stress. By doing something for yourself every day, you will begin to feel a sense of empowerment that can help put negative feelings at ease.
Al: So, in terms of reaping the maximum benefits, how often should we engage in these self-care strategies?
Mihaela: We should follow a daily self-care routine. It allows us to handle stress, avoid burnout, and support our loved ones as we cope with the uncertainty and change of the pandemic.
Al: And for those listening and eager to begin their self-care journeys, where should they turn to learn more?
Mihaela: To learn more self-care tips and strategies, visit the Mayo Clinic’s “Self-care during the COVID-19 pandemic” page and explore various actions you can take to promote your personal wellbeing. For those who may be experiencing mental health issues, visit the CDC’s guide to Coping with Stress during the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes a list of healthy coping mechanisms and various support helplines.
Al: Well Mihaela, thanks again for joining us and sharing these constructive and useful strategies.
This has been another episode of ClearPath – Your Roadmap to Health and Wealth.
Until the next time, this is Al Waller on WYPR, Your NPR News Station.
Stay safe, keep it together, and thanks for listening.