Being kind to yourself during the pandemic

I’m an Occupational Therapist who has recently relocated from Nova Scotia to Prince Edward Island, Canada. I have been self-isolating due to symptoms, and when the 14-day recommended quarantine is up, I will be working as an Acute Care Therapist. 

 

For this blog, I want to provide you with some tips that have helped me manoeuvre through this pandemic with a more positive mindset. 

 

For most of us, our worlds have been turned upside down, leaving us with increased anxiety and unfamiliar schedules. Most days I have a similar routine: wake up, show my cats some love, meditate, work, gym, more love to the cats, supper, more love, sleep and repeat. I typically eat healthy meals with the occasional treat here and there, and I drink lots of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. As human beings, we crave routine and without one, we can feel a bit lost and unproductive. When COVID-19 hit, admittedly, I was a ball of anxiety. I was no longer able to do my everyday activities as usual. 

 

Typically when I feel stressed, I tend to crave junk food and can easily slip into unhealthy habits. I recall those first few weeks when COVID-19 broke out in Canada, I resorted to this mindset; eating lots of processed foods and drinking buckets of coffee. My brain was spinning in a million directions and I was staying up late on social media to try and stay updated in the ever-changing pandemic. It became a vicious cycle and I was exhausted and unhappy.

 

But, with a few changes, discipline and acceptance, I have slowly learned to cope with my anxiety and continue through these uncertain times with less stress. 

 

Here are a few of my own tips that have helped me along the way:

 

  •     Acceptance. 

Acceptance is no easy feat to establish. It’s far from meaning we stop trying to navigate our way through this crisis or stop planning for the future. But it does invite us to find ways to make peace with the situation as best we can. We can still try to solve the problems in front of us but avoid adding to it by becoming unnecessarily stressed out by it. I have learned to accept that although I may not be able to control what is happening externally to me, I can be in control to how I respond, and through this, I have found peace and contentment in my every day. Ask yourself, what are you in control of today? 

 

  •     Self-discipline

Although my motivation has been low at points (and still fluctuates day-to-day), developing a schedule and routine has helped. I have started walking to work since the pandemic started, which has helped focus my energy on something more positive and has been a great challenge for me. What new challenges can you develop during this season? 

 

  •     Self-compassion

I have decided to be kinder to myself. In this time of uncertainty, it’s easy to feel as though you’re “failing” your pre-COVID-19 goals. To start making positive changes, I discovered that I needed to validate my feelings. My feelings of anxiety and panic are real – and that’s okay. I have become more aware that giving attention to my feelings can help me overcome them. Accepting those thoughts and feelings immediately puts me at ease and allows me to better focus on solutions rather than problems. ALL of our emotions, both positive and negative, are to be felt and not pushed away. This way, our minds become more clear and able to focus on the positives!

 

And let me tell you something, I am still working on these skills. They definitely do not come overnight. So please be patient with yourself and show yourself some compassion through these unprecedented times. Better yet, show yourself the love you deserve even after this pandemic is over. Life can get tough at times but self-awareness and self-compassion can go a long way if you allow it.  

 

Author: Lauren Mood

 

Bio: I am an Occupational Therapist who has recently relocated from NS to PE, Canada. I completed my Master’s of OT at Dalhousie University and most of my experience has been in acute care, restorative care and outpatient occupational therapy. 

 

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