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Self-Care During the Pandemic

People exercise in Green Park in central London on November 8, 2020, during a second national lockdown. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)
People exercise in Green Park in central London on November 8, 2020, during a second national lockdown. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)
Self-Care During the Pandemic
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From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.

Before the pandemic, self-care -- caring for ourselves -- may have not been a priority for many people.

But now, nine months into a worldwide pandemic, taking care of our physical and mental health is even more important than usual. There is no exact way to practice self-care. It includes many areas and may look different from person to person.

Slowing down and feeling in control

For some people, self-care may be simply slowing down. It can also mean controlling parts of your life that you can control. This is important when the world around you feels out of control.

Slowing down has worked for Tonya Speaks. She is a 43-year-old fashion expert from Fort Mills, South Carolina. Before the pandemic, she was often running to and from business meetings. And she did not make time for exercise.

Now, the mother of two exercises regularly. She says she is happier with a slower, less busy life. She adds that she also feels more in control.

“Taking care of myself,” Speaks said, “is one way for me to have control.”

Remembering that we are still part of a larger community.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines self-care as the ability of individuals, families, and communities to be and stay healthy. This includes preventing disease and dealing with sickness “with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”

The WHO also defines self-care as eating well, being active, and living in a safe environment. Self-care includes both individual wellness and the wellness of the greater community.

In the best cases, the WHO says that self-care methods can “strengthen national institutions” to improve a community’s overall health.

Thinking of it this way, self-care could also involve checking on your neighbors. Talking more with friends and family over the phone or in video calls can be a form of self-care, too. These things strengthen our community and improve our own mental health.

Learn something new

For some people, self-care might include doing things they have always wanted to do but never made time for. These things include baking, gardening, and learning a new language or some other new skill.

Mental health self-care

Another form of self-care is making time to meet with a mental health specialist, if needed. The Associated Press reports that online mental health services have increased during the pandemic.

However, meeting with a mental health professional may not be possible for some people. So, a doctor with the American Psychological Association has suggestions for other ways to reduce stress during the pandemic. Dr. Vaile Wright says meditating, writing about your feelings and problems, and organizing the physical space around you are all forms of self-care.

She adds that connecting with others right now is also very important.

Be kind to yourself – the best type of self-care

Experts remind us that self-care during the pandemic could feel like riding a rollercoaster — up some days, down on others.

“Some days, you have a great day when you did all the things you wanted to do,” Dr. Wright said. Then the next day, she added, you might sleep late and eat unhealthy meals.

It can help to have a routine – a usual way of doing things. But experts say keep the routine simple. They also say it is important to not be hard on yourself if you do not keep to your routine every day. Remember, they say, be kind to yourself.

And that’s the Health & Lifestyle report. I’m Anna Matteo.

Anna Matteo adapted this for VOA Learning English from an Associated Press story. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

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Words in This Story

priority – n. something that is more important than other things and that needs to be done or dealt with first

pandemic – n. medical : an occurrence in which a disease spreads very quickly and affects a large number of people over a wide area or throughout the world

regularly – adv. at the same time every day, week, month, etc. : on a regular basis

bake – v. to cook by dry heat especially in an oven

garden – v. a piece of ground in which fruits, flowers, or vegetables are grown

opportunity – n. a favorable combination of circumstances, time, and place

stress – n. a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life, work, etc.

meditate – v. to spend time in quiet thought for religious purposes or relaxation

rollercoaster – n. a ride at an amusement park which is like a small, open train with tracks that are high off the ground and that have sharp curves and steep hills

routine – n. a regular way of doing things in a particular order