Now more than ever is the time to prioritize your self-care needs. Why? Because it’s an essential way of reducing everyday stress. This is particularly important as Canadians and people across the world cope with the health and financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are four simple ways to boost your self-care practice during this emotional time.

1. Take a brisk walk

One simple way to reconnect with your centre? If you’re able to leave your home, take a quick stroll. It will get your heart pumping while you enjoy vitamin D from the sunshine.

“Physical activity really is the best medicine,” Toronto-based psychotherapist Sara Kamin explains. “It’s a temporary, but effective, quick fix for stress, anxiety and depressed mood.”

Don’t assume it needs to be a long trek, either. Taking a mere 15 minutes for a spin around the block can be much more beneficial and refreshing than you might think.

2. Micro-meditate with an app

Perhaps you’re a seasoned devotee of meditation. Or maybe you’re new to the practice. Either way, there are several apps that help simplify at-home sessions.

For example, you can use the Calm app to get a taste of the outdoors, even when you’re stuck inside. It offers bursts of outdoor imagery, such as a breeze blowing across a field of wildflowers, for 15-second intervals. Or hop over to Headspace to utilize one of its hundreds of themed meditation sessions.

3. Take a temporary break from the screen

Are you working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic? Then a brief screen “vacation” can do wonders for your productivity and mood.

“Most of us are in information overload on an almost constant basis,” Kamin says. “Any time we can take to give the brain space to process emotional material that our busy lives keep us distracted from is helpful.”

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, set your phone on do not disturb mode for a set period of time – even five minutes. Then micro-meditate or brew a relaxing cup of low-caffeine tea.

4. Practise positive self-talk

Feeling overwhelmed and overworked isn’t great for your self-esteem. The solution? Take a few moments to talk yourself up.

Kamin recommends you begin your self-talking session by sitting with one hand on your heart and another on your belly. It’s a pose that will help you relax. Take a few deep breaths. Then repeat a positive mantra to yourself, such as:

  • “I am enough, just as I am.”
  • “I’ve got this.”
  • “I have the power to create change.”

If self-talk isn’t working, recruit a trusted colleague or a loved one to discuss your feelings.

“Just knowing this person exists can be comforting,” Kamin says, “even if you don’t end up needing to turn to them for support!”