Self-Care is More Important Now Than Ever
As we fast approach the end of 2020, the world is still fighting with the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, it soon will be a full year since the advent of this international health crisis. The past year has not been easy for many, as we read daily news about the number of infected people, the increasing statistics of death, the overloaded healthcare system, and the countless people worldwide losing their jobs.
Much attention is given to efforts to save lives and impose strict measures, ban of travel, stay-at-home orders, remote working, homeschooling, and trying to cope together with family and friends. Adding to the stresses – but not to be overlooked – are the effects of the annual change to daylight saving time in much of the northern hemisphere. This is particularly a concern from October to the winter solstice on December 21, as the days grow shorter and darkness grows longer and seems interminable.
However, far less attention is given to people without the support of family or friends who feel overwhelming loneliness during these times. Whether you are on your own or locked 24/7 with your family for almost a year now, both aspects induce huge stress on mental health. I have read a few articles on this topic, yet I feel not enough has been said on the subject and believe that there needs to be greater awareness brought to the population on how to deal with the long-term stress resulting from the Covid pandemic.
If you are an individual who is particularly susceptible to feelings of isolation and loneliness, I feel you and understand how difficult life may appear right now. November is my least favorite month of the year. Normally, I cope with wintertime change and darkness through a lot of self-tender loving care. During this time, I enjoy getting massages, going to the sauna, and seeking greater human interaction. The importance of human interaction cannot be overstated. During these trying times, what I miss most are my dinner dates and meeting lovely clients. I miss the power of their touch, the resulting increase in oxytocin levels. Quite simply, I miss making my clients happy and I miss adding value to their lives.
My yearnings – as well as the yearnings of others – are not simply emotional. Scientifically speaking, sex and intimacy are essential parts of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In fact, they are as essential as physiological needs (breath, air, sleep, food, water), safety and security (money, shelter, job, feeling safe and secure, etc.), and societal needs (community, tribe, relationships, love, family, sense of belonging). In other words, the need for sex and intimacy is part of survival. It is a visceral need for humankind.
To address this issue in a time of the pandemic, I am inclined to suggest that you treat yourself and book an independent escort to boost yourself with “happy hormones” of dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, and oxytocin. However, because in-person meetings are difficult to arrange right now and possibly dangerous, I will instead share with you my tips and tricks for self-tender loving care during these times. They help me and perhaps they may help you as well:
Get exercise. Exercise has been found to increase dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, and oxytocin levels. A wide variety of workouts can have positive effects. Down Dog Yoga app is doing it for me.
Take daily walks – preferably in nature and without your phone. Walk daily for at least 30 minutes shortly after lunchtime, when daylight is brightest.
Meditate. My favorite applications are Headspace and Synctuition.
Cuddle your pet if you have one. Cuddling with your dog for 10 minutes before you get out of bed in the morning can help you feel calm, relaxed, and happy. A before-bed cuddle session also can help you relax and let go of whatever happened throughout the day. It can promote feelings of restfulness and help you get a better night’s sleep. Cuddling reduces levels of cortisol, the hormone that is responsible for stress, anxiety, and depression.
Cooking therapy. Cooking engages our senses, it has the ability to activate memories. The smell of a dish might remind you of your grandmother's house, or perhaps your favorite restaurant or vacation. Allowing yourself to become immersed in these memories as you cook is a therapeutic way to relieve stress and boost your mood.
Self-pleasure. Take time to tune in to yourself. An escapade in solo play surely counts as self-care – you’re taking time to focus on yourself, focusing on something that feels good for you, and gives you pleasure. Most medical professionals support solo sex as a healthy habit for both body and mind. Self-care is often seen as shameful, embarrassing, or unimportant in our social-obsessed culture. However, self-pleasure is something nearly everyone does, something everyone should do, and something we could all do better. Masturbation matters because your body matters. Pleasure is healthy.
Now incorporate these suggestions into your lives. They will not only help you survive and cope with the pandemic, but they will establish healthy habits that you can carry on once we overcome Covid and return to normal.