With the holidays over and my favorite time of year gone just like that, I’ve already started to feel the winter gloom that often accompanies the cold and harsh winters of the Midwest. The cute and bright Christmas decorations and New Year cheer we were all so focused on have been replaced with a stagnant chill of staying inside, pandemic panic, and political turmoil.
Let’s face it sisters, 2021 has not been off to the glamorous and peaceful start we had all hoped for. With the number of COVID-19 cases rising again and our country experiencing recent political chaos, I’ve felt my heart racing a little bit more than usual. I bet you’ve definitely felt that, too.
Thus, because of everything going on, it is so unbelievably important to recognize that our feelings are very valid, and that we should practice self-care and self-love now more than ever! You are beautiful inside and out, and you deserve the peace and love that comes with taking care of your mental, emotional, and physical health (even if it sometimes feels like there are so many things out of our control).
Here are some simple but effective self-care ideas that we can all slowly implement in our daily routines to increase feeling safe and calm, during these chaotic times:
Having a Mantra During Meditation or Moments of Silence
With the start of a new chapter, it is so necessary to take time for reflection and peaceful silence. 2021 may have been off to a questionable start, but there is still so much that I am grateful for.
We have all experienced our own versions of loss in 2020, some more than others, and everything you are feeling is okay. You are seen, heard, and loved. I often find that repeating my favorite mantras or phrases of comfort help pull me out of my winter schlump and feel more motivated to accomplish my goals. Finding a phrase like “rejection is redirection” or “I am purposefully and wonderfully made” can be great tools in keeping you grounded and feeling safe with what Life can throw at us.
Giving yourself even 5 minutes a day to sit in meditation or in silence can be very beneficial. I consider myself religious, so I personally decide to pray in the morning and at night, but anything you feel comfortable with, whether it be praying, meditation, or even just sitting in silence and breathing deeply, works!
Zoom/FT Calls with Your Sorority Sisters!
Although I’m still sad that we can’t hang out all the time with our sisters like the above photo of me and my Theta besties, the power of technology proves more beneficial than ever in 2021! In the new year, it is VERY important to reach out to others! Talking to our family and friends is an important way to practice self-care. Our mental health matters, and winter is a challenging time to feel social, especially during a pandemic in which we’re choosing to social distance and not hang out with a lot of people in order to protect each other and move forward as a society. But, Zoom and FaceTime are great ways to hang out and still be together in a virtual form!
Be proactive and reach out to your friends, family, and sorority sisters! I find that scheduling times during the week to Facetime have been super useful, and make me feel so loved and happy afterwards. You can even do normal Facetime calls or plan out fun virtual movie nights using Netflix or Disney. Even just a short phone call or text can make all the difference in our moods and attitudes.
Go on a Winter Afternoon Walk
This one has been a bit of a struggle for me, especially as I’m not the biggest fan of winter and get cold way too easily, haha. But after trying it out, I have to admit, even in the wintertime, taking walks can still be a fun part of your day to look forward to! I try to take a winter walk at least a couple times a week (I have not committed to doing this everyday as I have also been doing at-home workouts too), but the fresh air does do wonders!
My younger sister and I bundle up in our thick jackets, hats, gloves, and winter boots, and put in our headphones to listen to music as we walk around our neighborhood (practicing social distancing from others, of course). It has been a great time, even if we don’t walk outside for as long as we did during the summertime.
Eat More Fresh Fruits/Veggies and HYDRATE!
This has been one of my New Year resolutions, and I have to say, I’ve definitely noticed the difference in how I’m feeling! Hydration is key - drinking lots of water daily can help your body stay more alert and healthy. To motivate myself, I got a fun $2 cup from my on-campus Starbucks that I enjoy using and bringing everywhere.
I started adding sliced fruit and veggies to my everyday diet, and I highly recommend it. Meal prep has been so helpful to me in college after getting my first apartment, and I plan to prep different recipes abundant with various ingredients to keep me motivated to try new things and change up my daily diet. Life gets so busy sometimes, but pre-slicing or preparing healthier foods early on during the week and storing it in containers for a quick snack or meal, is a wonderful way to make sure you increase your fruit and veggie intake!
Journal Your Emotions
This is one of my favorite self-care tips (for all season-round!) I believe in the beauty of expressing ourselves, in both the good times and the bad times, and the power that this activity has in helping us to better understand ourselves is incredible. Journaling is something I’ve always loved to do, but if you’re a beginner hey, no worries - it’s super easy to make into something fun and the rules are all yours to create!
I sometimes journal using a physical notebook or diary, but I’ve gotten really into using online journals since it’s something you can take with you everywhere. You can even use GoogleDocs, Microsoft Word, or your phone to journal at your convenience.
Journaling is fun because the writing style is definitely up to you! I like to write stories, poetry, or even articles about societal issues or things that have been clawing at my mind. Journaling can be a peaceful and calming way to get out what you’ve been bottling up for so long, especially since it’s easy to feel alone more than ever due to the pandemic. So grab your favorite mug of steaming coffee or tea, curl up in your cozy blanket, and write!
Start Reading Again!
When I was younger, I used to read a book a DAY! Now, it’s way harder to fit daily reading time into our schedules, but even having a short goal can be helpful to get back into leisure reading. E-books and audio-books are great and easy to access (most libraries offer this option when you’re searching for your next exciting book!)
Over quarantine, my sorority sisters and I were in a book club and read “Murder on the Orient Express” by Agatha Christie. It was a fun way to get back into reading and even start exploring classic literature and different themes more!
All in all friends, sometimes, it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. With the holidays over (I’m starting the count-down for next Christmas already, haha!), it is crucial to take breaks and find activities that make us feel calm and grounded.
So, please follow safety guidelines and let’s try to find gratitude and beauty in the small things. You matter, and you are still deserving of a happy holiday season! Even though things are hard, you are still capable of good things.
Reach out, reach in, and take care of yourself - you deserve it.
Kappa Alpha Theta
Saint Louis University