2021 is coming to an end. The COVID pandemic is still here; the Omicron variant is spreading like wildfire in many parts of the world. You may have suffered immeasurable loss this year, or faced numerous challenges. Or you may have enjoyed a very productive and successful year.
Regardless of how 2021 has been for you, Dr. Yik would like to remind you of the following self-care strategies. Self-care is more than just an afternoon at the spa. Self-care is about prioritizing your physical, mental and emotional needs.
Take care of your physical health.
- Limit your caffeine intake. Not only can caffeine keep you up at night, but it can also make you more anxious or jittery. Some people may feel palpitations (heart beating/ pounding) or restless after consuming caffeine. These symptoms don’t help when you’re already dealing with stress. Try caffeine-free herbal teas that promote relaxation, like chamomile, peppermint and lemon balm teas. Extra tip for parents: Parents sometimes forget that chocolates, chocolate chip baked goods and bubble tea contain caffeine. Try replacing these with yogurt/ fruit smoothies, trail mix or other snacks that are caffeine-free.
- Limit your alcohol intake. Click here to read more.
- Consume a healthful diet. Colourful vegetables, whole grains, fruits, lean protein and good fats nourish your body and keep it healthy. Avoid excessive sugar intake as well as food additives such as MSG and artificial food colouring which can cause mood changes in some people, especially children.
- Get enough sleep. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Try to stick to your typical daily schedule as much as possible.
- Keep active. Daily exercise helps reduce anxiety and improve mood. It can also take your mind off your problems. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Extra tip for parents: Children need daily exercise, too! Allow them to play actively, practise a sport and/ or try GoNoodle®, a free online website with movement and mindfulness videos for children created by child development experts.
Take care of your mental/ emotional health.
- Stay connected to others. Let out any frustrations you have to a trusted friend or counsellor. Staying connected and maintaining meaningful relationships can help us feel secure and supported, which in turn helps us stay positive and resilient in the face of challenges. Extra tip for parents: Be sensitive to your child and listen actively. Allow them to share their thoughts and fears without judgement.
- Focus on positivity. Start each day by listing 3 or more things you are thankful for. Some people find it helpful to draw on their faith or religion to maintain a sense of hope and purpose during difficult times. Others find purpose in helping those in need.
- Practise deep breathing. Be mindful of how you’re breathing throughout the day. The deliberate process of taking slow, even breaths promotes a state of calmness, helping to reduce stress and anxiety. Extra tip for parents: Take 2 deep breaths before responding to a difficult child or reacting to bad news.
- Avoid constant exposure to media. Constant news from all types of media can fuel anxiety and fear. Get your news from a reliable source and limit your news reading or watching to once or twice a day.
Wishing you all Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy 2022!