- Get enough rest. Retire/arise on schedule. Remove sleep barriers — screen time, heavy food, stressful discussions, and disturbing news.
- Exercise daily. Stretch your legs every hour. Dress for the weather and get outside.
- Choose healthy foods that help you feel your best. If you are gaining or losing weight without trying, discuss this with your healthcare provider.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Focus on breathing when you feel stressed. Breathe in for seven counts, hold for one count, and breathe out for seven counts. Two minutes will help you calm.
- Keep regular appointments with your healthcare provider and other specialists.
- Some have sensitivity to lack of light in winter. Get sunlight each day and visit your healthcare provider for a care plan.
- Take time to care for your body. This is not a luxury. It is fundamental.
Caring for Your Mental and Emotional Self
- Give space for a “bad” mood or day. What do you need to let go? What do you need now? Make plans to meet your needs.
- All emotions just “are.” They are neither good nor bad. Find a safe way to express anger or sadness. Then do your best to let it go.
- Too much time alone can be detrimental to our thoughts and emotions. Find a friend and reach out. There is always someone who will listen.
- Read, watch and listen to things that are uplifting and encouraging.
- Humor is a great de-stressor. A day in which we have laughed is always a better day.
Caring for Your Social and Spiritual Self
- Be proactive in reaching out to others when you feel lonely.
- Explore new possibilities for positive connections, such as a gym, a club, a volunteer position, or a faith community.
- Arrange regular times to be with others, such as coffee or lunch every week. Looking forward to plans brightens our spirits.
- Make plans for the spring and summer. Winter is just a season.
- Tend to your relationship to the greater universe. Find time each day to study, pray or focus.
- Find a way to be helpful to another. Taking focus off ourselves and toward meeting the needs of others is powerfully healing.
*If you or someone you know feels that they are suicidal, it is crucial to reach out for help immediately. The National Suicide Hotline is open 24/7. Your call will always be welcome. Please call 1.800.273.8255.
Lisa Balster, MA, MBA, LSW, FT, has worked in the hospice field for 35 years and is a licensed social worker and the director of Patient and Family Support Services and Pathways of HopeSM Grief Counseling Centers at Ohio’s Hospice.