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Be Good to Yourself: Self-Care During Challenging Times

Healthy lifestyle helped by dog during lockdown at home.

Challenging times can feel chaotic and create difficulties you may have never faced before. For some these new adjustments may cause stress, anxiety, and even sleep problems. That’s why it’s so important to be intentional about our self-care and make time for unwinding and recharging. When we see others suffering around us, it’s common to feel conflicted between managing your own personal struggles and assisting others with theirs. How can you focus on self-care when the world feels like it’s crumbling around you? Here are our tips for maintaining personal well-being and practicing self-care in a healthy way:

Add self-care to the calendar. We schedule everything else in our day, from meetings at work to afterschool activities for the kids—self-care activities should be no different. As the calendar fills, it can make it hard to prioritize ourselves. Rather than trying to fit self-care activities in where you can, be intentional about adding them to the schedule, whether it be early in the morning or between other tasks. By scheduling self-care activities, you have time set aside and are more likley to take it. 

Prioritize your physical and mental health habits. For many when life gets hectic, the healthy habits seem to be the first to go. However, mental and physical health are very interconnected, and “letting them go” can actually make us more susceptible to illness [1]. For your physical health, eat well, move your body, manage stress, and get adequate sleep. Mental health strategies like having an emotional support system, maintaining structure and routine, staying connected, and using online tools and resources are a few ideas to get started [2].

Maintain connections and social support. As human beings, we are social creatures. We are drawn to connection. Even during a difficult time we need that sense of belonging. Maintaining your social connections and making time for friends, family, and loved ones can help you unwind and find relief. If you can’t leave the house or gather in groups, Zoom, Teams, Google Hangouts, and other platforms can still provide a space for that connection and support.

Practice gratitude and positivity. Research shows that gratitude can enhance overall well-being in addition to helping us cope with stress and traumatic events [3]. By noting and paying attention to the things we are grateful for, we can garner a sense of purpose and positivity. In addition, positivity can help us stay balanced so negative emotions don’t take over [4]. Show thanks to your friends, family, or colleagues and acknowledge their successes when possible. It helps in multiple ways!

Ask for help. If you feel you need more help or support, intentionally seek it out. This may be support from friends, family, and loved ones or more professional support. With advances in technology, help is literally at your fingertips thanks to apps and telehealth services. If you’re not sure where to start, UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital is a nationally recognized leader in mental health clinical care, research, and education.

Other ideas for self-care and recharging:

  • Read a book.
  • Eat a balanced breakfast.
  • Spend time outdoors and in nature.
  • Take a digital detox.
  • Journal.
  • Connect with friends.
  • Write a letter to a loved one.
  • Take a bubble bath.
  • Listen to your favorite song/playlist.
  • Take a nap.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Get creative with arts, crafts, or other creative activities.
  • Work on a puzzle.
  • Meditate or practice other relaxation techniques.
  • Have a dance party.
  • Do yoga.

It’s been a time of great change and challenge. Promise yourself to enjoy every moment, slow down, and take time for yourself and to do the best you can each day. If you are a UPMC Health Plan member and are looking for support, we have health management programs with certified Prescription for Wellness health coaches and care managers who can support you and your unique goals. Our Prescription for Wellness health coaches support members across a variety of areas, including lifestyle changes, condition management, and behavioral health.


  1. Schuster, J. (2020). Tips for supporting your employees’ mental health with Dr. James Schuster. Retrieved from:
  2. Gabarda, A (2020). Five tips for managing mental health while social distancing. UPMC MyHealth Matters Blog. Retrieved from:
  3. Emmons, R. A., & Mishra, A. (2011). Why gratitude enhances well-being: What we know, what we need to know. Designing positive psychology: Taking stock and moving forward, 248-262.
  4. Daley, D. (n.d). Harnessing the power of positive psychology. Retrieved from:
  5. Gabarda, A. (n.d.) Redefine holiday health and wellness. Retrieved from:
  6. Hutchings, L. (n.d). Self-care. Retrieved from: