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Sleep Tips

5 Self Care Tips During Stressful Times

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You can't take care of others until you take care of yourself first. During stressful times, self care is even more important. That's more true today than ever before. The pandemic is causing extra stress for people. Anxiety over catching coronavirus. Remembering a slew of safety protocols for getting back to work and school. Dealing with the emotions and loneliness that come with social distancing. This added stress can make it hard to sleep — or it can make you sleep too much.

During these unprecedented and ever-changing times, finding ways to put yourself first can help you cope with the added anxiety. It can also set you up for getting a good night's sleep. The better rested you are, the better you can handle the stress that comes with life during a pandemic.

Incorporate these simple changes as part of a self care routine to combat stress. They just might help you sleep better, too.

Start your day with meditation.

The centuries' old practice of meditation helps you tune out and handle the stressors of the day. Meditation has been shown to lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure, according to the Journal of the American Heart Association. Health care providers also increasingly recommend meditation as a complementary therapy for overall physical and mental health, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Not sure how to start? Try a free mindfulness meditation apps to help you get in the zone.

Focus on healthful eating.

With stress often comes stress eating. That often means overindulging in junk food. Empty calories can leave you feeling sluggish throughout the day. Heavy, greasy, or spicy meals and snacks can also interrupt your sleep. It can turn into a vicious cycle. People who are sleep deprived make up for their sleep loss in part by eating more fat-rich foods, simple carbohydrates and fewer vegetables, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Get outside in nature.

Social distancing doesn't have to mean being cooped up inside every day. Getting some fresh air can help reinvigorate your mind and spirit. Taking a walk and connecting with nature, a practice known as forest bathing, has numerous health benefits. It can lower blood pressure, reduce cortisol (known as the stress hormone), decrease anxiety and ease depression. Even if you are quarantined, you can still participate in forest bathing. The Association of Nature & Forest Therapy Guides and Programs is offering free virtual forest therapy walks.

Reduce social media usage.

We're all relying on social media more and more to relieve boredom. It can be a great tool for connecting with friends and family during these times of social distancing. But too much time on social media is associated with depression and anxiety. If you find yourself upset by Facebook or Twitter posts and threads, it's time to take a break.

Make time to laugh.

All the gloom and doom of virus news can take its toll. Our minds need a distraction that doesn't add to that feeling helplessness or dread. Instead of binging the latest crime drama, try a comedy instead. Laughter has been shown to lower blood pressure, anxiety and depression. It might even boost immunity.

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