It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has created hardships for hundreds of millions of people around the world. In addition to the severe financial impact associated with business closures, job losses, salary cuts and other factors, many people have been ordered to isolate in their homes. Whether your government has regulated quarantining at home or you are isolating yourself as a precaution, the current circumstances are having a severe impact on mental health worldwide.
As important as it is to safeguard your physical health as the coronavirus continues to spread around the world, mental wellness must also take a front seat. Humans are naturally social creatures, and mental well-being is directly linked to connectedness, competency and autonomy. Unfortunately, isolation has a negative impact on each of these factors.
As a result, you may be experiencing difficulty sleeping, concentrating and maintaining a stable mood. You may also be feeling depressed, hopeless and angry, despite being physically healthy. By focusing on these seven top tips, you may be able to better maintain your mental health during this challenging time.
Manage Your Expectations
Everyone has been affected by the pandemic in different ways, and most people have had to make significant changes to their home life and work life. Some people have had to adjust to new housing, a new family dynamic or even a new financial situation.
The ability to connect with friends and family members is dramatically limited as well, as it is no longer prohibited to gather with members outside of your household. Establishing reasonable expectations for the new norm is essential and this kind of acceptance can help to reduce the level of stress that you feel.
Rather than dwelling on how drastically your life has changed and longing for a situation that you may not be able to return to for a long time, it is best to try and find peace with the acceptance that your basic needs are met today and that this situation cannot continue indefinitely.
Managing these expectations may be more difficult for some than others, especially for those who are overly active, athletic, social or dependent on work and travel. While straying from a typical routine of going to work, hanging out with friends, travelling or working out can be challenging, it’s important to maintain perspective of the situation, and understand that staying indoors is contributing to the health of those around you.
Be Patient With Yourself & Others
Everyone in your home and throughout your community is adjusting to this situation in different ways, and they are experiencing the effects of the pandemic under individualized circumstances. It is understandable that you and those around you may feel frustrated by the situation, stressed by concern for others or emotional for other reasons. Be kind to yourself, and be patient with your wide range of emotions.
As well, you may be experiencing a lack of motivation to exercise, be productive or eat as healthy as you normally might; try not to blame yourself for breaking these typical habits and be patient with yourself as you adapt to these changes.
In addition to being patient with yourself, remember to be patient with others as they work through this situation in their own way. Look for ways to support those around you. Your spirits may be lifted when you find ways to help your friends, family and community move forward.
Establish a Routine
When you are not permitted to leave your home, your inclination may be to sit in your pajamas all day. While an occasional pajama day may give you a much-needed mental respite, it’s important to keep in mind this is not the daily structure for a healthy routine.
Depending on your situation, you may find comfort in establishing and maintaining a routine. This may be similar to the routine that you previously had, such as getting up and showering at a standard time. Your routine can provide essential structure, but each day will be unique based on your chores, responsibilities and other needs. Create a to-do list each day so that you can enjoy a sense of accomplishment as you cross each item off of your list, whether it be simple tasks like making your bed and calling your loved ones or something more challenging like putting time into learning a new skill.
While it’s difficult to stay motivated during isolation, you can and should do your best to remain as active as possible throughout the duration of your time at home. Spending at least 30 minutes outside each day can do wonders for your mental well-being; Exposure to natural sunlight and fresh air can dramatically improve your mood and help you to take your mind off of your current circumstances.
One idea is to simply take a walk through your neighborhood, such as in the early morning or evening hours when fewer people are outside. You can also remain active indoors, by taking part in stretching exercises and practicing at-home yoga. Encourage your family members or roommates to join you so that you can make this a social activity as well, or, if you are isolating alone, welcome in friends and family to join you virtually.
Being at home does not mean you need to cut yourself off from the world. Take advantage of your smartphone, laptop and other connected devices to video chat and text your loved ones for at least a few minutes each day.
In addition to connecting with those who you are close to for your own well-being, staying virtually connected is also a great way to check in on your loved ones and make sure that they are doing well. If you have children at home, ensure that they have time to visit with their friends and classmates virtually for at least a few minutes each day as well. Consider adding this social period to your new daily routine calendar.
Eat Well & Stay Hydrated
Physical and mental well-being are intricately connected and getting a healthy amount of sleep and exercise each day is extremely crucial, especially during these times. You also need to nourish and hydrate your body on a regular basis.
If you are like many people, you may be eating more meals at home than you have in a long time and so this is a great opportunity to incorporate healthier foods into your regular diet.
While it is fine to indulge periodically, eating nutritious meals and snacks can give you a much-needed mental and emotional boost. This may even be a great time to try a few new recipes and to encourage your family members to join you in the kitchen.
Stay Informed, But Not Overwhelmed
Staying connected with the world around you is essential to remaining updated on how the situation is evolving globally. It can seem like the world is changing very rapidly with new updates issued regularly about closures, COVID-19 case counts and more. However, media overload can make it difficult to take your mind off of your circumstances. When your phone is constantly lighting up with notifications and you do not turn the TV channel away from catastrophic news, it can be difficult to stay positive.
Allow yourself approximately 30 minutes each day to catch up on the day’s events. For the remainder of the time, go about your regular routine. Turn notifications off on your phone, or place your phone out of reach so that you can give yourself a much-needed break.
Mental wellness is always a priority, but it may be more difficult now than ever before to decompress and remain connected to your loved ones. When you incorporate these tips into your day routine, you may discover that it’s a little easier to cope with your circumstances. Since each person is unique, you may need to make a few adjustments to fit your specific needs and circumstances.
Remember that there are many resources available to help you through this difficult time, including free online exercise classes, meditation apps, tele-medicine or therapy sessions to offer extra support.