Compassionate Self-care During Covid-19
It’s been more than a year since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world. As we learn how to adapt to our “new normal”, the all too familiar word of “self-care” may slowly be starting to lose its significance for many of us. However, self-care is important now more than ever. After all, we cannot begin to take care of others if we haven’t taken care of ourselves first. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you reconsider how you practice self-care in your daily routine:
Be kind to yourself
It sounds simple, but it’s often forgotten especially during moments of stress. Practicing self-compassion through simple gestures and statements can go a long way. Try repeating phrases throughout your day as you pause for a break, such as “It’s okay to not be okay” or saying “Thank you” to your body and giving it a light squeeze. A safe touch or self hug releases oxytocin, the hormone of safety and trust and the brain’s direct and immediate antidote to the stress hormone cortisol.
Mindful Self Compassion (MSC) offered at CMS is also a great way to learn how to mindfully cultivate and maintain self-care practices. While mindfulness increases our awareness of the present, self-compassion encourages greater kindness and understanding of periods of suffering. In turn, you will be more readily able to accept your imperfections and be more gentle with yourself.
Practice a brief body scan
You may be familiar with mindful breathing practices, but try switching things up by practicing a brief body scan. A study conducted in 2016 demonstrated that participants who practiced body scans saw the biggest increases in how aware they were of their bodies and the sharpest decline in the number of thoughts they were having, particularly negative thoughts and ones related to the past or future. This is why CMS encompasses the body scan practice in each of our 8-week personal programs – it’s a great way to bring attention to parts of your body while relieving tension and instilling calmness.
Join a community
It may be out of your comfort zone, but joining a community and connecting with others outside of your own social group can not only lessen feelings of isolation, but it can promote and inspire connection. Whether it’s a online book club, a socially distanced running club or even something you’ve never tried before, it’s important to keep yourself connected! If you’re unsure of where to get started, check out some of the programs offered at CMS including MBSR, MBCT, MSC and MAT. These programs not only help develop skills in mindfulness, but they also foster connection with other individuals who may be experiencing similar thought patterns and feelings as yourself.
As we continue in this period of uncertainty, it is important to be intentional when carving out time to prioritize yourself. Always remember, you are not alone, and we are all in this together.
Blog Article by Yenushka Karunaratne
Yenushka is a Behaviour Analyst working in the field of developmental disabilities and mental health. She has been practicing meditation and mindfulness for over 20 years and is a previous student of MBSR and MBSD programming at the CMS. Her passion is to find creative, practical ways to integrate mindfulness into our everyday lives and ultimately advocate for the prioritization of mental health within our communities.