In these unprecedented times—if we never hear those words again, it’ll be too soon—we’re all learning to sit with some degree of uncertainty and angst. (And if somehow you’re not, we want to live on that planet.) While 2020 hasn’t exactly gone according to plan, Bare Necessities remains, as ever, here to support you.
To that end, we’ve rounded up 10 of the best pieces of wellness advice for this challenging moment in time to help you keep your calm and carry on this summer. Let us know in the comments what’s been working for you personally; the more strategies we can all draw from, the better off we’ll all be.
1· Connect with people.
Even if we can’t hang out with or hug everyone as much as we’d like, we can keep close virtually. Schedule regular video chats with your usual crew as well as with those you don’t always get to talk to in the hectic course of life as we once knew it. Teach someone who isn’t tech-savvy how to Zoom, FaceTime or Hangout. For a laugh when you want to cry, start a group text of only memes. Do regular check-ins to let someone know they’re on your mind. Channel some of your rage into this new era of social justice activism by following leaders whose beliefs align with yours and who share meaningful action items you can get involved in. However they come, these quick hits of connection with your people feel really good.
2· Use technology to better your life.
Sure, the diversion of a TikTok challenge is cool, but there are so many useful self-improvement resources out there now, too. Take virtual tours of some of the world’s best museums and theme parks (Good Housekeeping lists 30 of them). Watch your favorite musicians put on virtual concerts. Broadway’s Hamilton will be on Disney+ on July 3. Take continuing education classes (Yale is offering The Science of Well-Being, its most popular class, for free). Download apps for stress management (try Calm, Headspace or Pacifica) and fitness (check out Yoga for Beginners, NEOU, Gold’s Amp or Nike Training Club).
3· Go outside.
Spending time in outdoors has scientific health benefits, so soak up as much sunlight and fresh air as you can. Mother Nature does wonders for resetting your body’s circadian rhythms, too, which means better sleep—priceless these days (more on that later). As often as you can, go for a hike, walk, run or bike ride. Take the dog and/or the kid(s) for a stroll. Go fishing. Go camping. Just go.
4· Keep moving.
When it’s this easy to sit in front of screens 12 hours a day, it’s so, so essential to move. Indoors or out, schedule workout days and times on the calendar, and keep those appointments with yourself. Even a five-minute stretch every hour between tasks can help reset and refresh your brain. Shoot for 30 minutes of moderate activity every day; you don’t have to do it all at once, either. If nothing else, reducing the time you spend sitting—too much time on your tush can negatively impact your health and longevity, even if you get the recommended amount of daily physical activity, according to the Mayo Clinic.
5· Create a routine.
Sticking to a schedule not only helps give shape to these strange days, it boosts your health and life satisfaction: It’s all about balance and warding off sleep problems. If you’re working remotely, set a time to log on and log off, and make sure your team knows what they are. Or flex your schedule by waking up earlier or staying up later to fit in whatever needs to happen.
6· Find new uses for your spare time.
In the “before” times, we all complained about never having a free minute to do anything extra, be it learning to knit a scarf or D.I.Y. a pallet planter or picking up a new language. Silver lining: We now find ourselves with some of that time. With the right YouTube tutorials, anything is possible. Stress-bake a loaf of sourdough. Do a jigsaw puzzle. Read a book. (May we recommend So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo?) The beginner’s mindset stimulates the brain, so tap into those deep reserves of thoughtfulness that usually get shoved aside for more pressing tasks.
7· Eat and drink well.
You know this, but don’t consume your every meal at a desk or in front of a screen; take a break for the 15 minutes it requires to focus on nurturing yourself. Fuel your body with healthy foods, yes, but also don’t feel ashamed of finding comfort in what you consume. That is, after all, why we call it “comfort food.” Now is not the time to swear off ice cream. Think about it: Wouldn’t it be weird to not gain a few pounds in the middle of so much tumult? Stay hydrated, too, and not necessarily with a box of wine.
8· Prioritize sleep.
It’s easier to keep a consistent sleep schedule when you never know what day it is! Get up and go to sleep at the same time, be it a weekday or weekend. Aim for as many hours as you know your body needs to recharge, whether it’s a solid six or more like eleven. Wear fabulous pajamas (like the ones shown above from P.J. Salvage). If anxiety is cutting into your Zzzs, wind down with technology at least an hour before lights out, write out your thoughts or worries to clear out your head, keep a gratitude journal to refocus on all the things that are, in fact, going right or do mindful meditation. Daub on some lavender oil, crank up the white noise machine and escape to your happy place.
Allow yourself to disengage from the onslaught of tough-to-take news, especially the relentless drumbeat of the neverending cable news cycle. You can moderate your intake without burying your head in the sand by reading an online newspaper instead of watching the talking heads trying to fill air time, and by setting real limits on your social media scrolling. Remember: Your smartphone is there for your convenience, not for others’. Do your best to lessen its Pavlovian deathgrip over you. Self-care is so much more than a trendy buzzword now. Take a bath. Take a walk. Take deep breaths. Take what you need, and don’t feel a single ounce of guilt over getting it. After the withdrawal jitters subside, it actually feels really good to get away from everything for an hour.
10· Tend your own garden.
It’s reeeeally tempting to dump on the ones you’re closest to; don’t. Give them your time and attention. Find new ways through together. Look out for your family, friends and neighbors, stay safe and remember that this too shall pass. Maybe we’ll even take some of these lessons into 2021….