5 Self-Care Awareness tips for veterans during covid-19
September 24, 2020
September is self-care awareness month and with COVID-19 cases still increasing across the world, the mounting stressors of everyday life have taken their toll on all of us, especially veterans. Between social distancing, sheltering at home, canceled events, and virtual everything with no end in sight, it has been a rough six months. But think about what it must be like for a veteran who may not be tech savvy or even have the right technology, who may have to shelter in place because going out is too much of a risk, or who might not know where their next meal is going to come from. It can also be lonely for veteran patients who are hospitalized and can’t have any visitors. We can say here at Soldiers’ Angels that we desperately miss the patient visits and special events at VA Hospitals. We can only image how those veteran patients feel knowing that not even family can come visit.
We want to say to those veterans who may be at wits end that it’s ok to be stressed and feel tough feelings. We are all going through a lot. Since it’s self-care awareness month, we want to share some tips that might help curate a calm environment around you no matter where you are.
Limit news consumption
There’s so much happening in the world around us that it can be hard not to stay glued to your TV. While it’s important to stay up-to-date, watching the news cycle obsessively can lead to severe anxiety. Here’s the thing, the news media makes money on advertising, and loom and doom is what gets people’s attention. In fact, according to psychologist Dr. Graham Davey, violent media exposure can exacerbate or contribute to the development of stress, anxiety, depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
If the news seems to leave you with feelings of stress and anxiety, limit your exposure to it, or change up where you get your news. You can try other stations or even different media like the paper or online journals. Reading rather than watching can reduce the dramatic effect.
Get up and move
Although gyms are starting to open with limited capacity, there are plenty of ways to get exercise without leaving your home. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs offers free YouTube videos courtesy of their #LiveWholeHealth program that covers everything from chair yoga to Tai Chi. They also provide a list of additional resources to provide more options for you to move your body. Moving your body could be one of the easiest and most rewarding ways to jump-start your self-care awareness!
Practice different calming methods
Relaxing looks different to everyone, so find what works best for you. For some, journaling or practicing mindfulness through meditation is a great way to find a sense of calmness. For others, playing an instrument, listening to soft music or taking a long, warm bath is the cure for de-stressing after a long day. If you’re new to meditation and need assistance, there are free videos on YouTube and mobile apps such as Calm, Headspace, or Breathe that offer easy ways to get started. Whatever you heart and mind desires, find what works best for you to help you cultivate calmness in chaotic times.
Find a hobby
Nothing beats spending time doing what you love, so take some extra time to do just that. If you’re fresh out of ideas on what to do with your free time, consider volunteering. According to this 2013 study published in the American Psychological Association, researchers found that the participants in the study who volunteered 200 hours a year, correlated to lower blood pressure and a greater increase in psychological well-being. However, there are different studies that show volunteering even 100 hours per year can still have a positive physical and mental impact on volunteers.
If you’re looking for ways to volunteer, be sure to check out our many virtual volunteer opportunities that you can do from the comfort of your own home!
Virtually connect with your loved ones
I know it may be hard not to see your family and friends in person, however, there are still ways to connect and spend time with your loved ones. FaceTime and Google Duo are great options for one-on-one time but don’t be afraid to expand to group video services like Zoom or Google Meet to gather larger groups of loved ones for fun, family activities. It’s really important to stay connected right now as we are all facing feelings of loneliness and isolation from friends and other activities. Connecting with others, even if it must be virtually, can be one of the most powerful forms of self-care awareness.
Lastly, and most importantly, if you’re still feeling overwhelmed or stressed, please know that you are not alone. If you are contemplating potentially harming yourself or others, please contact the Veteran Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and select option 1 for a VA staffer.
For non-veterans, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255(TALK).