Holiday celebrations may look a little different this year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gatherings may be smaller or they may be virtual or perhaps even “drive-by” celebrations.
Yet, one thing remains constant – the holiday season can be a very stressful time of year.
In times of stress, having a self-care routine can help you cope. Self-care is about understanding your own needs and taking steps to stay physically, mentally and emotionally well. Below are six ways to practice self-care:
Eat well. A balanced diet is important for overall good health. As we get older, our metabolism slows so we require fewer calories. Practice portion control and eat a variety of nutritious foods, including colorful fruits and vegetables. Also, cut down on sweets.
Get enough sleep. Older adults need approximately eight hours sleep a night. Healthy sleep habits begin with going to bed around the same time each night and waking up at the same time each day. If you’re having difficulty falling asleep, avoid watching television or using your computer or Smartphone before going to bed. Choose another activity such as reading. If your insomnia continues, seek the advice of your doctor.
Exercise regularly. Regular exercise can help to lower your risk of heart disease as well as other diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Exercising increases your strength which in turn helps you to maintain your balance. Just 30 minutes of walking five days a week makes a difference. (If you’re just beginning to exercise or if your mobility is limited or you have a health issue, be sure to check with your physician first.) Did you know? When you exercise, your body releases chemicals that can improve your mood. Exercise not only helps to keep you physically fit, but benefits mental health as well.
Engage in a project or activity you enjoy. What do you like to do? Paint, draw, craft or write? Cook a new recipe? Do puzzles? Listen to music? Keep trying various projects or activities until you find something you truly enjoy and look forward to. Then, make time for it each day.
Meditation. A way to relax and calm the mind, meditation doesn’t require any special equipment or an incredible amount of time. Meditating may be done at any time of day. Find a quiet space to meditate for several minutes. Just starting out? Try it for just one minute. Don’t know where to begin? You can find information about meditation online, in books or CDs. There are also a number of meditation apps (some are free) which can guide you through the process.
Health check-ups. Be sure to keep up with your medical care. Don’t put off visits to your doctor or other healthcare provider(s). Tele-health visits are an option in most scenarios so don’t let COVID keep you from seeking medical care.
A self-care routine is key to maintaining well-being. Strive to practice self-care each day.
Coping with the holidays, along with isolation and limited activities during the pandemic itself, not only increases stress, it can also bring about feelings of sadness or loneliness. It’s important to reach out to others such as a caring friend, family member or neighbor. If you’re sad and not feeling like yourself, talk with your healthcare provider or another trusted individual about how you are feeling.
Caregivers often overlook their own needs, but it is imperative that they take care of themselves. When a caregiver’s needs are taken care of, the person they are caring for will benefit. Old Colony Elder Services (OCES) has a Family Caregiver Support Program (FCSP) which provides one-on-one support and creates a personalized plan outlining available resources that are applicable to a caregiving situation. FCSP also assists caregivers in developing a self-care plan. For more information contact OCES at 508-584-1561 or visit www.ocesma.org.