How to Fight Pandemic Fatigue: 15 Self-Care Tips

A well-being coach shares ways to take time for ourselves and reduce stress during a challenging time.

candles, books and tea as part of self-care routine during COVID-19

In my career as an NYP BeHealthy well-being coach at NewYork-Presbyterian, I’ve often seen people sacrifice self-care because they are focused on caring for others and they are too busy or feel too guilty about it to focus on themselves. When life becomes overwhelming, self-care is ignored. The paradox is that you need self-care most when you don’t think you have time for it.

I learned this firsthand as a breast cancer survivor. My grueling chemotherapy treatments left me feeling mentally and physically exhausted, but also forced me to slow down and take care of my whole self. It was during that time that I realized that self-care is not selfish. Instead, self-love nourished me and nurtured the compassion that I try so hard to show others.

Now more than ever, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we need to take small steps to focus on our well-being, because every little thing we do counts in helping manage our stress. To get started, here is my list of 15 simple things you can do to practice self-care.

Learning to be mindful in your daily life can help when you are overwhelmed. Mindfulness is the ability to be in the present moment and pay attention to the task at hand. Being intentional in whatever you are doing in that moment is mindfulness. If you’re feeling a moment of stress, try using the S.T.O.P Technique, developed by mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Stop: Interrupt your thoughts and pause whatever you’re doing. Sit up straight with a tall spine and calm yourself. Notice the sensations of being present.

Take a Breath: Breathe in slowly through the nose, expanding the belly, and exhale slowly and deeply through pursed lips. Take a couple more conscious deep breaths, feeling the body relax with every inhale and release tension with every exhale.

Observe: Become the observer of your thoughts, emotions, and physical reactions. What thoughts do you notice? What emotions are present? How does your body feel? Tune in and sit with whatever arises for a few moments.

Proceed: Finally, proceed with intention and mindfully take each next step in your day from a place of strength, wisdom, and presence.