In the past few months of self isolation, some of us may have experienced nervousness, loneliness, fatigue, and a general lack of motivation. You may have felt frustrated for feeling this way — after all, you’re technically resting at home. You may feel like there’s nothing you can do to make things better. But there is something you can do right now: prioritizing yourself.
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This may sound strange during a pandemic. However, trust me when I say this: prioritizing myself has been one of the best decisions I’ve made.
As healthline states, prioritizing yourself can sound negative, as it may be viewed as being self-centered, selfish, and unwilling to help others. It is important to define context here: these negative connotations are relevant when we can actually help without harming ourselves or others. For instance, if you’re prioritizing yourself by going outside with friends, when other people are in social isolation, because you are feeling ‘cabin fever’ during COVID-19, then yes, you are being selfish and are prioritizing yourself for the wrong reasons. But for helping others? All of us can and should donate and offer to run errands for those who are unable to. Otherwise, unless you are a medical professional there is really nothing you can do other than socially isolating, not hoarding groceries, and protecting ourselves and others by washing our hands frequently and wearing a mask in public.
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And now, here are some things that I’ve learned that can help you on your journey to prioritizing yourself.
Try to set a schedule you can follow
It is very easy to lose track of time during social isolation. When you have no obligations (school or work) and especially no one to remind you to do things, you can start to neglect important things, such as your health. For instance, at the beginning of social isolation, I had a very erratic sleep schedule: I would sleep at early hours in the morning (6 am or 7 am), but the next day I would try to fix it and pull an all-nighter. Because of this, I stopped exercising, had little time to communicate with family and felt very unmotivated to change.
This is what changed my life in the past few months. Because I committed to summer school, I now had a reason to wake up early in the morning. It forced me to completely change my sleeping schedule and be productive in creating plans to complete homework.
Have breaks where you can do whatever you want
As stated by psychology experts at CNBC, avoiding burnout and taking care of your body is very important. Place time limits on your work and take short breaks afterwards. Personally, I found that having a timer helps keeps me organized. Remember to take this time to relax and do whatever helps you recharge and rejuvenate.
Think of the internet as your best friend
You’re able to get information at the tip of your fingertips, and you can communicate with friends and family even if they’re at the other side of the world. Try to find companies that are offering free trials for their services and find things that interest you. Zoom is one company that can be used for free, and it allows anyone to have video conferences. This is what my summer school has been using 9am – 5pm on certain days, and it works well as long as you have good internet connection. Apple’s final cut pro is currently offering a 90 day trial, which is great for anyone looking to try the software. Monday.com (which is what I’ve been enjoying for my summer school) is free for students to use and it allows anyone to plan ‘to do lists’ for big projects. It’s great for group work.
Try not to use social media to compare yourself to others
It can be very easy to compare yourself when all we’re doing is spending time looking at other people’s lives on social media. When we see people doing things that we aren’t, we can start feeling “envy, regret, guilt and defensiveness.”
We’ve all know that exercising is beneficial to our health. The overarching results are a better mood, and the feeling of accomplishment that brings confidence. However, if you’re like me and have trouble sleeping or are currently having erratic sleeping schedules, exercising can help you sleep. According to John Hopkins Medicine, “Recent research indicates that exercise decreases sleep complaints and insomnia in patients. The effects of aerobic exercise on sleep appear to be similar to those of sleeping pills.”
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We’re in a situation right now that all of us have never experienced before. The internet allows us to communicate and to virtually see each other freely, but at the same time, it can create loneliness and make our home feel like it’s constraining us. If you’re suffering, the tips I’ve listed here are things that I personally found helpful, so don’t limit yourself to just these and work on finding things that work for you. Prioritizing yourself during COVID-19 isn’t selfish: it’s being healthy.