Weasked Dr. Stefania Cicchiello, a psychologist, psychotherapist, specializing in Aesthetic Psychology and Sports Psychology, as well as conductor of mindfulness courses and workshops in the area of wellness and stress management, to clarify the importance of body care during this quarantine period.
Dr. Cicchiello, for the past month our life has changed. Covid has challenged our daily certainties and “diverted” our attention from all those activities that until recently we considered indispensable and now many consider futile. What happened, in your opinion?
We can safely say that much has changed. Covid has forced itself into our existence to the point of taking over, profoundly changing the lifestyles of human beings in a matter of weeks. The period we are facing represents for all a major source of stress not only because social relations have been reduced and huge economic losses have been suffered, but also because we have been forced to change quickly and give up those activities that were sometimes part of our routines and that we often took for granted (a trip, a spa weekend, the hairdresser, the drink at the end of the day, shopping, etc.).
In addition, we are facing fear for ourselves and our loved ones on a daily basis. Therefore, now more than ever, it is important to reclaim our lives in a different way, taking care of ourselves and doing many unusual things such as: streaming work, washing, dressing and caring not only for others, but for ourselves.
In these challenging times, could talking about wellness and aesthetics be trivial?
I would like to preface your question before giving you an answer.
In the ancient world there were two meanings of the term beauty. Beauty understood as “appearance” and beauty considered as “care of body, hygiene and self.”
In this second meaning, “taking care of your body” is necessary to improve mood and self-esteem.
Self-love, not understood as an uncontrollable desire for beauty at all costs, but as a need for serenity and harmony mirrors the individual’s state of mind. The body, besides being a shell is also a representation of how our psyche is.
It is the mirror of emotions, needs, what pleases and what creates suffering. Stress, for example, affects health and thus the body: fatigue, bloating, sleepiness or conversely insomnia, accelerated heartbeat, dull complexion, reflect the disruption of our quality of life.
Body and mind are strongly interconnected.
Therefore, in a time of emergency such as ours, it is normal to experience anxiety, fear and distress whereby primary needs, namely those of survival (hunger, thirst, rest) and “security” (employment and health) predominate over secondary needs (esteem and self-actualization).
These are strongly influenced by circumstances and theenvironment. Indeed, professional and cultural fulfillment, the desire to travel, to visit places, to dine at a restaurant, to spend a weekend at a spa… currently take a back seat, but it is worth remembering that anxiety and chaos should not “sequester” our minds and behaviors to To avoid getting sick even from a psychological point of view.
It is interesting to remember what the World Health Organization advocated, in 1948, when it defined health as “… a state that is not described by the mere presence or absence of disease but a state of complete physical, mental, psychological-emotional, and social well-being.” In a more recent era, i.e., 2011, health has also been described as. “… the ability to adapt and self-manage in the face of social, physical and emotional challenges”. This second definition seems to me very relevant to the situation we are in.
The professional who deals with aesthetic psychology treats not only beauty, but also all those psychological aspects that convey through it: needs, desires, conflicts, fears, management of interpersonal relationships, and manifestation of those emotional experiences that are sometimes better expressed through the body than through words.
Cosmetics give health to the body, while wellness is a broader concept that rests on the acceptance of one’s physical and mental sphere and is also manifested through cosmetics. Caring for your body and feeling comfortable in your own skin is a rewarding experience.
Doctor, what do you recommend to TRAVEL & SPA readers during quarantine?
I feel like giving three basic pieces of advice:1
Let’s keep ourselves motivated
As much as possible, we avoid neglect. It only takes small gestures to feel better and activate the pleasure circuit.
When we eat, dance, play sports, take care of our person, help others, appreciate ourselves and feel valued, we develop endorphins, which together with norepinephrine and dopamine play an important role in the reward mechanism that provides pleasure and fulfillment, keeping the individual motivated.2
We activate positive circuits
We try to escape immediate gratifications that represent the desire for compulsive satisfaction rather than healthy activation of the pleasure circuit. It is useful to proceed by short-term goals. Even if at this time we cannot go to the spa or wellness centers where there are professionals to take care of us, however, we can take many small actions to relive the same feelings of relaxation such as:
- listen to relaxing music
- Follow courses or recordings of relaxation techniques
- Taking restful baths in a candlelit tub
- Use the healing power of colors or visualization techniques.
The latter, in particular, are very effective because they use mental imagery to engage the different senses and act on the conscious and unconscious parts of the personality with the aim of reactivating perception and inner resources, stimulating creativity and awareness of oneself and one’s resilience and self-healing abilities.
Let us not neglect our appearance
Finally, we create a diary of things to do during the day, including actions in it that relate to our health and body care.
Owning a diary that reminds us of the steps we need to take on a daily basis can be very useful, because it prevents us from falling into the deception of procrastination (“I’ll shampoo tomorrow, I’m more comfortable in my sweatpants, I don’t need to put on makeup and take care of myself because that won’t guarantee my safety,” etc.).
Allowing oneself to be invaded by laziness,apathy and unruliness does not provide physical well-being, while a proactive lifestyle increases it. If we can love ourselves and reappreciate ourselves outwardly even in this period, then we will find the strength and energy to change the rest as well. We will again have the desire to be among others and experience the pleasure of resenting ourselves as interesting and enthusiastic people to live, to travel, to project into the future.
Dr. Stefania Cicchiello
Psychologist – Cognitive-Behavioral Psychotherapist
Clinical and Expert Psychodiagnostics
Doctoral training in Emergency Psychology and Psychotraumatology
Perfected in chronic pain therapy
Perfected in Aesthetic Psychology
Master’s degree in Sport Psychology and Neurophysiology
Mindfulness-Based Interventions Instructor