Written by Stephanie Sutton, M.D. –

Self-care is a general term that includes intentional actions done to help yourself on the inside and out. It incorporates caring for your physical and mental wellness.

Practicing self-care can include everything from washing your face at night to eating healthy. Self-care is more important than ever because it can play a role to decrease our stress levels, help protect ourselves from illness, set us up for success in the future, and increase our level of happiness.

Here are some ways to practice self-care now:

-Eat: Consume a healthy and balanced diet. Look for fruits, vegetables, lean meats, greens, olive oil, citrus, and whole grains. Summer is a time for fresh and colorful produce which provide many of the vitamins and minerals that we need. Consider taking Vitamin D supplements which some experts feel may have benefits during the pandemic since lower levels of vitamin D may be correlated with poorer outcomes from COVID-19 infection.

-Drink: Having a glass of wine or beer at the end of the day can be enjoyable, social, and relaxing. But keep alcohol consumption within moderation. Drinking too much alcohol can interfere with sleep architecture, mood, and levels of functioning.

-Sleep: Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Try to stick to a similar sleep routine. Sleep has been shown to reduce viral replication in other viruses. And sleep loss can increase our susceptibility to common viruses.

-Skincare routine: Wash your face at night, use moisturizer, and wear sunscreen. Maybe you have time now to do some extra steps that you previously didn’t do such as adding retinoid gel or eye cream. Consider this a time for prevention and rejuvenation.

-Exercise: Make physical activity a priority. It is recommended that we exercise about 30 minutes five days per week if doing moderate exercise. Exercise can decrease stress and increase health. Studies have shown that people who were physically active while sheltering were less depressed and more resilient.

-Friendship: Take time to reach out to friends and family. Schedule phone chats, backyard get-togethers, walks, or Zoom hangouts. Social distancing can still be social when done appropriately.

-Activities: Cultivate hobbies such as gardening, reading, doing puzzles, playing music, woodworking, cooking, or painting. This will help stimulate your mind for neuron growth and provide increased levels of enjoyment.

Hope these self-care tips can help you through this time as we all try to avoid COVID-19 and find our new normal.

Stephanie Sutton, MD, is a contributing author to the Sutton Dermatology Blog. Stephanie Sutton is a psychiatrist and she focuses on wellness.

Source: Dayan S, et al. “Achieving Wellness During Isolation,” Modern Aesthetics. Experts Corner. Episode 11. 5/5/2020

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