• Katie Valley, RHNP

Self-Care Strategies During A Pandemic like Coronavirus- Tips from a Holistic Nutritionist

Updated: May 2

Stress can definitely take its toll on our bodies in many ways - physically, emotionally, and mentally.



Since the beginning of this pandemic, you may have found yourself more stressed out and anxious than ever. Although you also may feel like you have had the most downtime lately than before the pandemic, I encourage you to reflect on if you are actually feeling rested and recharged, or drained and lethargic.


To help, here are 10 Self-Care Strategies to Try During a Pandemic like Coronavirus.

  1. Get enough sleep. Good quality sleep is essential for good health. While you sleep, your body works to repair itself, balance hormones, boost your immunity, and is crucial for optimal function of metabolism. It even works to process toxins to be eliminated in the morning. For those of you concerned about the "Quarantine 15", listen up- fewer hours of sleep actually correlate with a higher caloric intake the next day, and there is a direct relationship between weight and sleep. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep should be a top priority and will go along way in stabilizing your eating behavior, as well as decrease your risk for cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, cancer, obesity, and inflammation.


2. Take deep breaths during the day. Deep breathing can be one of the quickest ways to lower the stress hormone, cortisol in the body. Try this counting breath exercise to reduce stress.


3. Eat slower. Optimal nutrition may or may not be a top priority for you at the moment, but every single person could benefit from just slowing down at mealtime. Pause and Check-in: are you physically hungry? Are you eating out of boredom or to cope with emotions? Either way, if you are deciding to eat, be sure to do so sitting down and without distractions. Turn off the tv. Sit at the dinner table. Take a bite, chew thoroughly and swallow, before scooping another bite into your mouth. This slows down the process, engages proper digestion and tells your brain you are eating. Finally, stop when you are 80% full. Bringing awareness at mealtime makes it much easier to receive the signals of fullness. Pause for 15-20 minutes before eating more food. Your brain needs time to catch up- THIS is mindful eating.


4. Connect with family and friends. Virtually, that is. I had a virtual "happy hour" with close friends last week and I cannot remember the last time I laughed so much!



5. Exercise. It can be as simple as going on a walk in nature. We need to remember that exercise is not JUST to reach your weight loss goals- it is vital for mental health and self-care. Physical activity provides a natural release for pent up feelings, can reduce tension and anxiety, improves mental outlook, self-esteem, and the ability to handle stress, and can also help us to relax and improve sleep. Making a point to engage in extra physical activity most days of the week, for at least 20 minutes is an excellent starting point.



6. Speak to yourself more kindly. Our self-talk creates our reality. We need to become aware of how we are thinking and internally speaking to ourselves. This is because when we think or speak about ourselves, we are actually creating neuropathways in our brain that allows us to become the person we are affirming. Make sure those things are positive, even if you don’t believe it, or feel weird saying it. By purposefully changing negative statements into positive ones, you will start making the decisions that reflect loving and caring for your body.


If it helps, think about what you would say to your best friend, or child if they came to you saying negative statements about themselves? You would say anything to lift him or her up, right? Apply that same compassion to yourself and you will be AMAZED at the mindset shift.

7. Open your windows and blinds during the day. Now that the weather is getting nicer in the north, be sure to take advantage of that by opening the windows blinds during the day. This allows fresh air to flow through your home and push out that stagnant indoor pollution that accumulates. Seeing the sunshine and smelling the fresh air is an instant mood booster.


8. Enjoy a hot bath or face mask. Add Epsom salts and some lavender essential oils. Lavender is known for reducing anxiety and emotional stress. If you've already showered for the night, apply a face mask and add some lavender essential oil to your diffuser instead!

9. Meditate, pray, and/or do yoga. These practices are an excellent way to devote time to self-care. In addition, they initiate the body's relaxation response- the exact opposite of our fight or flight response to stress. The relaxation response can also decrease heart rate and blood pressure, and reduce muscle tension.

10. Keep a journal or read a book. Now is a great opportunity to pick up that book you have been meaning to read, or even start a gratitude practice. Journalling is also a great way to organize your thoughts when your mind is racing. Whether it's your to-do list for the next day, thoughts and feelings, or things you had meant to finish that day-get it on paper...then write down three things you are grateful for. This will shift your focus on the positive and may distract your mind from any remaining racing thoughts.



Remember, self-care is an important component of holistic wellness. If you would like to discuss some other ways to prioritize your health during this time, I offer a complimentary 20-minute phone call, and telehealth consultations are available.



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Katie Valley Wellness LLC

Holistic Nutritionist in Ann Arbor and Online

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