EVEN the most optimistic of us have had some hard days lately. Many have had family members and close friends who have gotten sick from, or unfortunately even succumbed to, the health pandemic. Things beyond our control can easily cause stress and anxiety. We cannot control what is happening; we can only control how we manage ourselves and still find some happiness daily—if not for our own good, then for our loved ones. It is hard to care for others when we forget to care for ourselves.
As Melissa Henson, vice president and chief marketing officer of Manulife Philippines, aptly put it, “When we, as individuals, are healthy and happy, we are better able to support one another with our struggles, and offer the best of us, not what’s left of us.”
Manulife Philippines recently hosted a webinar with Dr. Vicki Belo called “Beauty Behind Closed Doors: Self Care During Quarantine.” The celebrity dermatologist shared some helpful tips on practicing self care in order to also care for those around us, with a BELO acronym: Balance, Exercise, Learning and Offering gratitude.
A home office is the safest setup for now, but can be challenging due to distractions from chores or the needs of family members. To find that balance while working from home, dedicate a specific work area where you can focus. “You owe it to your bosses and to your clients to be as focused on your work as usual,” Dr. Belo emphasized. Get properly dressed in the morning in case you have a sudden video conference for work, or even if nobody will see you. “Dressing up puts you in the proper mind frame to work,” she said.
Set a work schedule so that your family knows to avoid distracting you, and also so you don’t end up working until 2 a.m. Don’t forget to look away from your computer screen for at least 20 seconds every 20 minutes to avoid straining your eyes.
Exercise your body, and even your face; worry might be causing you to frown constantly without even realizing it. Try not to use quarantine as an excuse to stay in bed all day; this isn’t healthy for weeks on end. More than ever with a virus lingering in our city, we need to keep our heart, lungs and muscles healthy with cardio exercises and strength training. Stretching and doing yoga will do wonders for your body and mind, especially if you have spent long hours sitting or lying down.
Stay hydrated, eat a balanced diet and go easy on the Netflix-and-junk food combo. Try to get just enough sleep—most adults need seven to eight hours. Constant lack of sleep does not give the body the opportunity to heal itself, and may even shorten your life span.
Exercise the mind through learning and positivity; stay informed, but not overwhelmed. Make sure to get and pass around news from credible sources only, as fake news sows misinformation and panic. Take this time that you normally might have spent sitting in traffic on the commute home, to join an educational webinar or have a video call with people who give sound advice and/or make you laugh.
Last, offer gratitude. It is too easy to focus on all the negative things. Write down something you are grateful for every day and appreciate what remains good instead of focusing on what is going wrong. Counting one’s blessings is an important aspect of overall well-being that also manifests in physical health.
With all these tips, Dr. Belo said not to be too hard on yourself if you find it difficult to be happy or productive on some days. “Take care of your mental health. It’s normal to have breakdowns; don’t feel bad about it.” Remember, everyone deals with stress differently, and we are all trying to cope in the best way we can, one day at a time.