There’s no doubt about it - COVID-19 has taking its toll on everyone physically, mentally and emotionally. Even if you aren't a healthcare professional or other essential worker on the front lines, it’s still difficult to cope with the dramatic change in lifestyle and stress we’re all experiencing.
Remaining in quarantine for an extended amount of time is a challenge. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, but there are things we can all do to remain mentally strong. Pain is unavoidable, but suffering is a choice. In times like today, the best thing we can do is to succumb to the pain and uncertainty of this time and let go of the things we can’t control. That said, there are things we can do to remain productive and use this as a way to come out better and stronger. Below are 7 tips to help anyone better manage their mental health while social distancing at home.
Tip #1: Take Breaks from the News and Social MediaWhile you want to stay informed, taking in too much information can be upsetting and stressful. If you continue to refresh your news feed, listen to the radio or watch the news, it’ll be hard to break your attention away from the current global crisis. Find a balance that allows you to stay informed without overwhelming yourself. If you like to start your day by checking social media, for example, you may want to try changing your routine for the foreseeable future. With social feeds inundated with COVID-19 coverage, this could be a jarring way to start the day.
Tip #2: Remember to Exercise
Most of us want to stay on top of our physical health during this time, but exercise can be just as important for your mental health as it is for you physically. Whether it’s yoga, jogging or walking, riding your bike or hiking, participating in these physical activities allows you to take time for yourself - away from others and the news. And with spring in full swing, you may even be able to take your physical activity outdoors. I recommend creating a goal or challenge for the next month. Make it public, and have your community hold you accountable!
Tip #3: Practice Meditation
Even if you’ve never done it before, mediation is an effective form of self-care. Through patience and practice, regular meditation can help anyone become more mindful and at ease and enhance overall health and mental stability. Don't know how to meditate? Just sit in a quiet room for five-ten minutes to provide your active mind some peace, space, and calmness. Try to focus on anything other than your thoughts.
Tip #4: Make Sure You Are Connecting with Others
While we're unable to physically be present with friends and family, it's still possible to keep in touch. Set up a Skype, Zoom or Facetime meeting with your friends or catch up over the phone. Get creative and think of ways you can connect and brighten someone’s day, because chances are your loved ones are feeling anxious as well.
Tip #5: Try a New Hobby
With more time on your hands than ever, now’s the time to try something new. Whether it’s painting, photography, running or whatever else you’ve always had an interest in trying, it’s a great way to do something fun while clearing your head.
Tip #6: Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep is a time to recharge your batteries, unwind from the day and prepare for tomorrow. Getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep will help you to work better, feel better and stay healthy.
Tip #7: Eat a Balanced and Healthy Diet
We may be stuck inside more, but that isn’t an excuse to forego our healthy eating habits. While it’s perfectly fine to enjoy some treats in moderation, make sure that you are still eating meals packed with protein, fruits and vegetables. Eating a healthy, balanced diet will help everyone in your household feel better both mentally and physically.
I hope that everyone stays healthy and safe while doing their best to support themselves and their communities during this time. As we all endure the emotional and mental stress of the coming weeks, it’s comforting to know there are things we can do to make it better.
One of my favorite authors, Ryan Holiday, recently wrote an article titled "A Crisis Can Make You Better. But Only If You Have This Mindset." In the article he talks about how we can all make a choice between using this unsettling time in quarantine as "dead time" - wasted and unproductive (just waiting for all of this to end) or "alive time" - an opportunity to come out the other end better for it.
I choose "alive time"! Do you?
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