The four pillars of self-care in times of Covid 19

self care

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Rariane Bernardino Marani and Ana Flávia Cury Ivantes, two fourth-year medical students at a private university in southern Brazil. They are affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defined the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic in March 2020. The first case recorded was in December 2019 in China, which quickly spread to other countries and continents, taking them to adopt measures to treat complications, epidemiological control and social isolation.1

With the new scenario established, there were changes in the lifestyle and routine of thousands of people, reflecting on their health. With regard to mental health, this reflection is seen in the main current Google searches, in which between April 12 and April 19 the main searches were: ”What should I do in quarantine? ” and ”Shortness of breath, what should I do?”2. In addition, between the months of May and April 2020 there was a sudden increase in consultations such as: ”anxiety causes shortness of breath?”, ”Anxiety in quarantine” ”guided meditation for anxiety” ”How is the shortness of breath of anxiety and COVID-19”, demonstrating a greater concern both in how to keep the time occupied during social isolation, and searches related to anxiety and symptoms that are associated with both it and COVID-193.

To keep mental health, self-care is important and for this there are four fundamental pillars: physical (maintenance of restful sleep, physical activity, adequate nutrition and rest), emotional (stress management, building self-esteem, psychotherapy), social (setting limits, support networks and fair weather) and existential (spirituality, meditation, prayer, philosophy and nature).

When thinking about physical care, it is important to maintain sleep between six to eight hours a day at night, respecting the night time to preserve the sleep-wake cycle essential for hormonal maintenance and reduction of anxiety levels; the practice of physical activity, ranging from walking around the house, to dancing; food, in which keeping it balanced and regulated helps to maintain the immune and gastrointestinal systems; and rest, since home work can be intensified.

On the emotional side, the management of stress includes practices such as taking a specific time dedicated only to concerns and, after this time, dedicating to other things activities, avoiding emotional exhaustion; It is also important to build self-esteem and psychotherapy.

In the social sphere, it is important to set limits for both work and leisure moments, in order to hold a healthy routine, support networks and fair time, as there is a tendency to maximize time at home and subsequently there is a frustration for not carrying out all the tasks set up.

In the existential pillar, spirituality, meditation, prayer, philosophy and nature, are practices that seek to regulate body and mind, improve sleep quality, increase concentration, among others. They are the basis of our emotions, decisions and thoughts. That is, our ways of seeing, feeling, thinking and acting within social isolation, with its countless challenges, anxieties and fears.

Therefore, in order to reduce complaints related to mental health during a period of Pandemic, it is important to institute the measures mentioned above, contributing to a healthier quality of life and a successful coping with illness.


  1. Portal PubMed []. Coronavírus: tudo o que você precisa saber sobre a nova pandemia [accessed on 19 april 2020]. Available in:
  2. Google Trends [] Coronavírus [accessed on 19 april 2020]. Available in:
  3. Google Trends [] Ansiedade [accessed on 19 april 2020]. Available in:

About the author

Rariane Bernardino Marani and Ana Flávia Cury Ivantes are fourth-year medical students at a private university in southern Brazil. Ana is a member of the academic leagues in Gastroenterology, Maternal and Child Health and the Oncology and Hematology League, while Rariane is part of the Maternal and Child Health Academic League and the Oncology and Hematology League. Both academics believe that the primary principle for the training of a good doctor is the development of scientific research since graduation, which promotes new discoveries for health and minimizes its challenges.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

DR Congo: UN food agency triples aid in strife-hit Ituri province

Thailand gave healthcare to its entire population and the results were dramatic

A world first: Women at the helm of every UN Regional Commission

PM May fosters chauvinism, declares trade war on Europe

Berlin wants to break South’s politico-economic standing

Prevention is key to ‘breaking the cycle of HIV transmission’, UN chief tells General Assembly

China-EU Relations: Broader, Higher and Stronger

This simple digital solution could streamline global travel and boost trade during COVID – here’s how

If airlines were a country they’d be one of the world’s top 10 greenhouse gas emitters

Smart city experts should be looking to emerging markets. Here’s why

Coronavirus: MEPs call for solidarity among EU member states

Remain united for Syrians, UN envoy de Mistura urges Security Council

Health equity and accessibility for migrants is a peremptory demand

Empathic AI could be the next stage in human evolution – if we get it right

The Working Methods of the von der Leyen Commission: Striving for more at home and in the world

Parliament demands ban on neo-fascist and neo-Nazi groups in the EU

These cities have the best quality of life

European Commission calls on national political parties to join efforts to ensure free and fair elections in Europe

Climate change: Another year of record gas emissions, warns UN meteorological agency

Deadlock broken, South Sudan on road to ‘sustainable peace’, but international support still key

I cycled over 6,000km across the United States to document climate change. Here’s what I learned

ITU Telecom World 2016: it’s all about working together

New UN bullying report calls for ‘safe, inclusive’ schools for all children

It’s getting harder to move data abroad. Here’s why it matters and what we can do

Do the giant banks ‘tell’ Britain to choose a good soft Brexit and ‘remain’ or else…?

We can’t tell if we’re closing the digital divide without more data

Global Talent – Professional Internships

Nitrate pollution of water sources: new impulses for EU Water Policy?

We need to give voice to ‘We the Peoples’, says UN chief

1 in 7 people would choose not to fly because of climate change

‘Don’t forget Madagascar’s children’, UN appeals for long-term help as emergency worsens

Public Policies for LGBT in Brazil

A digital tax sounds like a great idea. Here’s why it might not be universally popular

The financial crisis always prefers the south of Eurozone

Rule of Law: The Commission opens a debate to strengthen the rule of law in the EU

Who is responsible for public health? The tendencies and its benefits –or not– on Health Education around the world

A new leadership agenda for private equity

The UN has a 17-point plan to save the world. So how’s it doing?

UN chief and senior officials show solidarity with DR Congo during three-day visit

Parliament commemorates the victims of the Holocaust

Developing countries should not be liable for emissions ‘accumulated throughout history’, key UN development forum hears

How a bionic arm is helping one little girl enjoy the things most take for granted

These are the countries that have made their climate commitments law

‘Shared responsibility’ to stop 420,000 needless deaths from tainted food each year, UN, world leaders warn

Memoirs from a unique trip to China: “my new old dragon” (Part I)

Member states jeopardising the rule of law will risk losing EU funds

Coronavirus: the truth against the myths: Lockdown by a novel coronavirus, named 2019-nCoV

Parental leave: why we can’t wait a century for equal rights for women

Multiprofessional action against the indiscriminate use of antibiotics

FROM THE FIELD: ‘Harvested’ rainwater saves Tanzanian students from stomach ulcers, typhoid

Why AI will make healthcare personal

EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey: third annual report shows continued vital and tangible support for refugees and their host communities

The European Parliament floating over the South China Sea

Humanitarian Aid 2016: The needs, the highlights, the crisis and the relief

Aung San Suu Kyi suspended from the Sakharov Prize Community

COVID-19: A coordinated EU health strategy needed, say MEPs

Syria: Why did the US now take the Russian offer for a truce? What next?

4 fixes for equipment supply chains before the next COVID-19 waves hit

More Stings?



  1. Of all of these, I feel the spiritual or existential pillar is the one that goes overlooked the most. We tend to think that we can get by with minimal sleep or rest, but when it comes to managing stress and promoting wellness, it makes a major difference.

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s