We're living in stressful times, with news about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, economic collapse, and civil unrest causing many of us to feel high levels of concern daily, if not outright, stress and anxiety. That's why it's more important than ever to take care of ourselves. We know that all of these things, from illness to job loss to systemic racism, hit the Black community harder, making it even more essential to develop a self-care routine that centers on our own physical and mental well-being in ways that are practical yet effective.
The Wonders of Routine
Routine gets a bad rap, but when the world seems to be falling around you, it keeps you moving forward because routine gives you something to focus on. The nice thing about habits is that they're flexible and can look different for everyone. What matters is that you develop one and stick to it. And it doesn't need to be anything grand or dramatic, either–anything from watering the plants every morning to meditating every afternoon can be part of your routine.
Routine gets a bad rap, but when the world seems to be falling around you, it keeps you moving forward because routine gives you something to focus on
Food as Fuel
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables that avoids processed foods is always a wise decision, and never more so than now. Your body needs vital nutrients for optimal performance of your immune system, digestive system, and even your mental health. While COVID-19 may have interrupted our usual grocery shopping and meal preparation, it also presents a chance to get creative in the kitchen, since we're all spending more time at home.
Now more than ever, it's critical to keep up your fitness routine. And if you don't already make exercise a regular part of your day, this is a great time to start. The release of endorphins during exercise boosts your mood while improving your cardiovascular health and supporting strong muscles and bones. Something as simple as a walk around the block or running a staircase in your home or apartment building is an easy way to begin.
The Great Outdoors
Research suggests that sunlight can also produce those endorphins that make you feel good. Even though we're all keeping our distance from each other to slow the spread of COVID-19, spending time outside can still do wonders for our mental health. Choose times to go out when you're less likely to run into others, such as early in the morning or early evenings, and be prepared with a mask to help reduce the transmission of the coronavirus.
Even though we're all keeping our distance from each other to slow the spread of COVID-19, spending time outside can still do wonders for our mental health.
No one is surprised to hear that any of us are having trouble sleeping these days, but developing good sleep hygiene can help. Keep a regular bedtime and put aside your smartphone around a half-hour before bed. Take a break from the news. Spend a little time on self-care before bed. Read a book, enjoy some herbal tea, or spend time on a hobby or craft, like crosswords, puzzles, or knitting to let go of the day's challenges. Keep up these habits, and they'll soon be a signal to your brain that going to bed means going to sleep, and you may find it easier to nod off and get some quality sleep that leaves you feeling well-rested in the morning.
Be Smart About Being Social
Taking the proper precautions when interacting with others in our community is our best defense against COVID-19. Use face coverings, wash hands regularly, and stay home if you feel unwell. When outside, keep 6 feet apart wherever possible. When you can't see friends and family, reach out to them by phone, video chat, and text regularly. These times are hard on everyone, and just knowing that someone cares can go a long way in helping them manage tough times, too.
Taking good care of ourselves by prioritizing our own health and wellness in the Black community during these turbulent times will help us see it through. Small measures can have a significant positive impact on our lives. When we're at our best–physically, mentally, and emotionally–we're better prepared to work for our communities from a place of strength in hard times.
Taking good care of ourselves by prioritizing our own health and wellness in the Black community during these turbulent times will help us see it through
This article was originally published July 6, 2020.
WRITTEN BYAniesia Williams