These are unprecedented times. These may feel like worrisome, upsetting, highly stressful times. Nothing is the same, and this is definitely not business as usual. We will all certainly be tested in ways we cannot yet foretell, as these weeks of being relatively “alone” in self-induced isolation persist. While we need to keep our physical distance to “flatten the curve,” at the same time, we need our communities to keep us grounded, balanced, and soothed. And our communities need us for the exact same reasons.
At MADE SAFE we’ve been gathering ways to cope and to use this time to take care of ourselves and others. Taking care of the self is more important than ever – for all of us, but especially for people like healthcare and essential workers – so that we can take care of others. To help get you started, we’ve collected ways to be kind and nurturing to your own body and mind.
For those of us that are lucky enough to have more time and means to be idle, to create, and to actually care take in the midst of the crisis, you’ll find ways that we can take care of one another.
Taking Care: Physically
Physicians such as Dr. Maya Shetreat, Dr. Zach Bush, and Dr. Mark Hyman offer the following ways to take care of your physical well-being all the time, but especially during times of heightened stress.
Practice good hygiene: Wash your hands with soap and water frequently, use hand sanitizer when soap is not available, avoid touching your face, and if you cough or sneeze be certain to do so into your elbow.
Eat whole foods: Our body needs nutrient-dense whole foods in order to properly function (this includes your immune system’s ability to fight infection). Eat adequate amounts of protein, plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables (especially the green leafy variety), and consume fermented foods. Give yourself a boost by including foods like onions, garlic, ginger, and lots of herbs and spices. Avoid excess consumption of sugar and starch as they may suppress your body’s immune response.
Exercise: Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and may actually improve immune function. In fact, there is data demonstrating an inverse relationship between moderate exercise training and risk of contracting illnesses.
Choose nontoxic products: Choosing products made with safer ingredients and materials can help reduce your body burden – your body’s “load” of toxic substances. MADE SAFE’s certified products list is a great resource to help you find items that are safer for you and the planet.
Taking Care: Mentally & Emotionally
Incorporate laughter into your day: Laughter has incredible benefits, and can play such an important role during stressful times. There is evidence that laughter can relieve your stress response, soothe tension, improve your immune system, and elevate your mood. So gather your family, partner, or roommates together to tell some jokes, play a game, or watch a funny movie!
Make space for play and creative expression: Don’t underestimate the profound impact that play and creativity can have on your health. We often hear about the importance of play for kids, but are quick to forget that play holds amazing benefits for adults too as it relieves stress, enhances relationships, increases energy, and can even improve your resistance to disease. There is also evidence suggesting that creative expression and artistic engagement can have a positive effect on health.
Get moving! Movement has also been associated with positive impacts on mental and emotional health. For example, dancing has been shown to significantly reduce stress and increase levels of seratonin (the “feel-good” hormone). Engaging in yoga or other meditative activities can also help you achieve similar results, as researchers have found that just 30 minutes a day of meditation can reduce anxiety and help alleviate stress.
Social distancing doesn’t have to mean isolation: “Social distancing” is the new buzzword. It connotes feelings of isolation and seemingly goes against the natural social instincts we have as human beings. While social distancing during this critical time could play a vital role in helping to “flatten the curve” of the spread of Coronavirus, our daily lives screeching to a halt can lead to loneliness. However, social distancing does not have to mean social isolation.
Use technology to find community in a new sense. Perhaps it means writing an email to a loved one who is at home alone, or maybe it means calling to connect with an old friend, or finding a way to use social media to reach out and connect mindfully rather than mindlessly scrolling the feed. Host a virtual book club, community jam session, or movie viewing. Perhaps this will give us an opportunity to reconnect with our own families and friends in a way that daily life doesn’t always allow. Play games together, ask questions, have deep conversations, laugh together.
Taking Care: Others
Even from a distance, there are things that we can do to help those around us. First, we can stay inside. By staying inside, we protect the most vulnerable in our communities. This, in turn, supports our community’s healthcare workers who are on the frontlines in the crisis. When you do go outside for short bursts of fresh air and exercise (and you should!), keep a six-foot distance from others.
We can send groceries to an older person who may not feel safe going out to the store, we can donate food to local shelters and pantries, or we could simply let our neighbors know that we are here for them if they become ill or need anything.
Remember that reaching out virtually isn’t just about connection for you; it’s also about connection for our friends and family. By taking the time to send an email, make a phone call, host a video chat, or even write a letter, we are taking care of others by offering them support and solidarity during chaotic times.
Here are some other ways you can take care of others in the face of Coronavirus:
- Donate to funds offering relief for people who are currently out of work. Think gig workers, tipped professions like restaurant and bar employees, retail workers, local musicians, and more
- Donate to or offer supplies to homeless shelters who continue to support the homeless community during the crisis
- Batch online orders (instead of ordering sporadically) to reduce the burden on mail carriers and delivery services
- If you order delivery or take-out food, consider tipping generously
- Be especially kind to those with essential jobs. Grocery store workers, healthcare providers, police officers, emergency personnel, delivery people, teachers who are educating our children from a distance, sanitation workers, construction workers, and more. Remember they’re out there on the frontlines for us. Not to mention many of them are dealing with our panic and anxiety. Let’s be especially kind!
We must first take care of ourselves in order to take care of others. It will be our humanity and kindness that will bring us together and help us emerge from this global crisis stronger.