In these uncertain times, it’s not unusual to feel tense and stressed out. As we shelter in place and self-quarantine, we find ourselves missing a sense of normalcy – which can lead to feeling overwhelmed.  

Thus, it is increasingly important that you practice good self-care. Simple acts of self-care can trigger your body’s relaxation response, which helps you better cope with stress. Too much stress can take a toll on your health, and chronic stress impacts several areas of health, including immune function, GI health, and sleep quality, and can result in multiple unhealthy behaviors and moods. So by taking good care of yourself, you are taking steps to manage stress and support your physical and emotional health. 

And the good news? Self-care is not all about day spas, fancy trips, or expensive skincare routines. Steps to proper self-care can start in your home.

Start by Tuning Out

The 24-hour news cycle makes it easy to be sucked into a constant barrage of coronavirus updates on TV or social media feeds. The endless stream of stories can be disheartening and overwhelming. Step away from the screen and take a much-needed break each day. By engaging in some of the activities below, you will find yourself occupied with hobbies and new tasks. Eventually, taking a break from the news and social media becomes second nature.

For those now working from home – and as children begin doing schoolwork online – we are all spending more time in front of screens. This can take a toll on our wellbeing, because too much technology and blue light can lead to increased stress and disrupted sleep patterns. It can also lead to digital eye strain, causing: 

  • Sore, dry, itchy, or red eyes
  • Headaches
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sore neck or shoulders
  • Blurred vision
  • Poor sleep

Self-care can start by limiting time in front of computer and TV screens whenever possible. Set up reminders or alarms on your phone to prompt you to take breaks away from the computer. And if you need additional support, consider taking a nutritional supplement that helps the eyes filter light from blue screens.*

For your children, suggest daily activities – playing outside, helping with household chores, starting fun arts and craft activities – to limit the amount of time in front of the screen each day. Check out these additional tips for helping kids manage screen time.  

Make Time for You

Self-care should be about you. With the extra free time on our hands while stuck at home, use it as an opportunity to reconnect with old hobbies or pastimes you haven’t had time for. For me, I have had more time to cook. To make it more interesting, I am reaching out to family members asking for favorite recipes or recipes my grandparents and parents made when I was young. 

Of course, cooking isn’t everyone’s idea of a relaxing time. But there are hundreds of ways you can fit in more “me” time. Take inspiration from historical figures. Shakespeare wrote King Lear while in quarantine and Isaac Newton developed his early theories that became the foundation for calculus.

Okay, we aren’t saying you have to create your magnum opus, but you get the idea – find a hobby or something you enjoy that keeps you relaxed and helps you de-stress. Read more, start writing, painting, meditating, yoga, or knitting, or just take the time to really de-clutter and reorganize your house. 

Practice Mindfulness

Another simple self-care strategy is to practice “mindful living” – which is focusing one's awareness on the present moment. It’s now a well-recognized practice that helps with stress management. 

Here are some examples of being more mindful each day: 

  • Start when you wake up – it sets the tone for the day. Think of a positive thought or something you’re thankful for the first moment you wake up.
  • Try breathing exercises, even if it’s simply focusing on each breath as you inhale and exhale. 
  • Practice listening. Go outside in your backyard or porch (if you can) and simply listen to what is happening around you. 
  • Eat with awareness. When eating your healthy quarantine meals, eat more slowly, savoring each bite.
  • Keep a journal and document each day. Write down positive thoughts and good things that have happened to you recently. 
  • Practice meditation – it helps cope with anxiety, stress, and sleep problems. 

Join a Happy Hour

If your old self-care strategy involved meeting friends for a happy hour (mine was), then don’t give it up. Thanks to video-chat programs such as Google Duo, Apple’s Facetime, and the increasingly popular Zoom, happy hour is just a few clicks away. 

Set up a time to “meet” with your friends and share a drink, stories, and time reconnecting. 

Find an Online Workout Class

Not going to the gym is the perfect excuse for slacking off on a healthy habit. But exercise is another incredibly powerful self-care strategy. It keeps your physical and emotional health in shape and supports your immune function.

Although the current situation has surely changed our way of life, as human beings we are adaptable. And one example of how adaptable we are is how quickly gyms and fitness centers began offering online classes after closing their doors. 

From cardio to yoga, there is a plethora of digital workout classes you can participate in from the comfort of your home. National chains like Planet Fitness offer a free daily class on Facebook, while 24 Hour Fitness has a free app loaded with classes, routines, and workout tips. Another great resource is Nike’s Training Club – another free app with hundreds of at-home workout routines that require little to no equipment. You can even check out some easy, creative, and fun ways to exercise at home with tips from Thorne’s Director of Sports Science, Joel Totoro, RD. 

This blog also provides tips for staying social and sane while “socially distancing.”   

Other Self-Care Tips

Self-care is really about whatever helps you relax and remain healthy – so there are endless ways to do it. Here are some additional ideas to inspire you. 

  • Make time for afternoon naps 
  • Go for a walk (while practicing social distancing) 
  • Take a relaxing bath
  • Watch your favorite movies 
  • Stay in touch with friends and family while social distancing 
  • Write letters to friends
  • Plan your next vacation 
  • Try a new recipe 
  • Take an at-home stress test to see how your stress hormones are doing
  • Stay hydrated
  • Listen to your favorite music or relaxing nature sounds 
  • Make a healthy shake
  • Put your phone on airplane mode for a few hours 
  • Start a fun craft or DIY project
  • Buy a weighted blanket 
  • Redecorate your house or apartment 
  • Make a quarantine playlist
  • Watch live concerts on YouTube 
  • Make a gratitude list

Whatever you do, be sure you are taking care of yourself. Share your favorite self-care strategies with us on social. Tag @thorneresearch on Instagram and use the hashtag #onlyThorne to be featured on our page.

An important note: No dietary supplement can diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, including COVID-19. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is especially important to understand that no dietary supplement, no diet, and no lifestyle modifications – other than the recommended social distancing and hygiene practices – can prevent you from being infected with the COVID-19 virus. No current research supports the use of any dietary supplement to protect you from being infected with the COVID-19 virus.