9 Simple Ways to Practice Self-Care When the World Is Going Crazy
Remember the flight attendant analogy: Put the oxygen mask on yourself first, then help dependents. That’s what we need to do for ourselves in a time of self-care. Maybe you’re looking for a job. Or nursing a sick family member. Or just feeling unsettled because you were puckered up for Meyer lemons at the farmers' market and they were sold out (no problem too small here). Here’s your guide to some self-care.
Try an Out-There Healing Method
You live in California, land of alternative therapies and good vibes. Coincidence or causal link? Find out by having a tarot or horoscope chart reading or a crystal healing session. You might be surprised to find out how soothing these info sessions can be.
As little as ten minutes a day can stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system to slow down breathing, heart rate and blood pressure. Basically, you’ll feel less worried. Try an app like Headspace to get started.
Limit Screen Time
You might think you’re lying awake with anxiety due to…everything. But really it might be that your screen time just before bed has increased your brain’s electrical activity, revving you up into a cortisol-rich froth that’s pretty much the exact opposite of relaxation. Take an hour off from screens (yes, even television) before sleeping, and watch the REMs return.
Take a Hike
Scientists are trying to prove that being in nature allows the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s command center, to dial down and rest, like an overused muscle. (One clinical study showed cognition improvements in depressed people after nature walks.) We only know that we feel way less hostile in traffic after a short hike up to Griffith Observatory.
Consciously Uncouple from Social Media
We get it: You’ll give up Facebook when they pry it from your cold, dead hands. But if you find yourself fuming at toxic frenemies or coming down with FOMO when you used to feel smiley-face, then stop following haters and halve your social media time.
Write a Gratitude List
Creating a ten-point list of things you are grateful for shifts your attitude and mood. Whether you jot this list down in your journal every morning or just write it on the back of an envelope as you’re eating lunch, reminding yourself of your delights from the deep (loving parents) to the superficial (new shoes) is a jolt of happy.
In times of crisis, who cares if your jeans make you look fat? You need to Feel. Better. Now. A regular movement schedule means you’ll be metabolizing stress hormones your body may be holding on to. Exercise vigorously and you’ll earn an endorphin high.
Walk by the Ocean
Yep, Cali call-out again. Ocean air actually increases serotonin in our bloodstream, which studies show is thanks to its negative ions. So it’s the original antidepressant, which you can get for free (or for the cost of parking).
Get Your Hands Dirty
Did you know there is a study suggesting that contact with soil and a specific bacteria called mycobacterium vaccae actually releases more serotonin in the brain? Neither did we, but we know even planting the smallest little cactus makes us happy.