In the midst of trying to combat the spread of COVID-19, we’ve entered into what is an unsettling and unprecedented time for many, and one that can trigger feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, depression, fear and more, with symptoms manifesting in a variety of forms for both those with preexisting mental health conditions and those without.
Below are some tips we’d like to share to help you be mindful of your mental health during this period of social distancing:
Stay Connected in a Time of Isolation
While social distancing may have us spending more time at home and away from our friends and loved ones, we’re fortunate to live in a world where technology enables us to communicate and maintain connection with our own circles and the wider world.
Consider maintaining contact with friends and family members in an active way. Set aside time you might normally spend socializing to make a phone call or FaceTime/Zoom/Skype. Call a friend and have tea together while video chatting. Set up a virtual dinner party or game night. These digital hangout options are even available for groups, so you can bring multiple people together.
Though seemingly obvious, texting is another way to maintain communication. While so ingrained in our ordinary daily lives, many may accidentally find themselves in self-isolation, which is not beneficial to mental wellness.
Additionally, many music artists and even actors are taking to streaming live performances for their fans. Check in with some of your favorites to see who’s playing these impromptu shows across the airwaves.
Stay informed, but set boundaries to news and social media intake.
While it’s important to know what’s going on regarding our protective measures, both locally and globally, it’s also important to be mindful of just how much you’re engaging with information related to COVID-19, both on television and social media.
Many have found themselves glued to the news, sitting before an endless stream of unsettling information. And while it’s certainly important to keep up with what’s going on, it’s also important that you limit your time in front of this programming to refrain from being overloaded with overwhelming and unsettling content. This will likely contribute further to any anxiety or other feelings you may be experiencing.
With that same thought in mind, many social media feeds currently consist mostly of content related to COVID-19. And while not all of that is a bad thing as it helps us stay connected and share uplifting messages, it’s also important to limit your intake of virus-related media. Try consciously unplugging from social media to create a respite for your mental health, or set limits for how much you’re checking them to avoid endless scrolling and the negative feelings that may come along with it.
Stick to a routine.
For many, staying home entails that they are either working remotely, unable to work, or working long and strenuous shifts as an essential staff person. Any variation of these, given the current circumstances, can throw you off your rhythm, which in turn can affect your mental health further. Work to keep a semblance of a schedule in line, with time dedicated to work, play and rest. Even eating meals at times you normally would can be beneficial to maintaining the routine.
Are you someone who likes to wake up with morning yoga or some other activity? Aim to do something similar in your home if you can, whether it’s following one of the resources below or an independent endeavor. Or perhaps you usually spend part of your day socializing with some of your friends, coworkers or family members? Try setting up time to give them a call or do a virtual hang out. Do your best to maintain an ordinary routine in the days ahead and regain your rhythm to help yourself feel well.
Incorporate exercise and/or meditation.
Whether you are someone who prefers to exercise regularly or on occasion, adding some cardiovascular, strength, yoga or meditation exercises to your routine can help ease stress. Many individuals and organizations are sharing resources for virtual exercise options, from workout classes and helpful home alternatives to guidance for meditation exercises, there are many options that have recently been made accessible virtually, including smartphone apps. Below are some great options that might help get you started:
- Planet Fitness has been live streaming home work-ins each evening on their Facebook, and even if you miss a stream, it’s available afterward.
- Yoga with Adriene offers videos for beginners and targeted sessions for tension and stress relief, and even some medication exercises for anxiety.
- The popular meditation app Calm has compiled a hub of resources on their blog, including calming exercises for kids, mindfulness, sleep and more.