The recent national crisis that is COVID-19, known as Coronavirus, has caused millions of us to find ourselves practicing social distancing. With schools, restaurants, stores, and many nonessential businesses closed, staying home has become the safest – and sometimes the only – thing many of us can do.
If you already suffer from mental health issues like anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, the interruption in your daily routine may cause your issues to intensify. Here are a few ideas for keeping your mind and emotions healthy in the midst of social isolation:
Limit your exposure
At this time when we’re all working to limit our physical exposure to the virus, you can also limit your exposure to outside stressors that can cause you to feel anxious by managing the amount of time you spend watching the news or engaging in social media. Yes, it is important to stay informed and, for many of us, social media provides much-needed connection, but allowing yourself to stay online or keeping the TV on all day, can make anxiety worse. Try listening to music, an audiobook, or reading instead.
While we may not be able to enjoy our state parks or campgrounds right now, taking as little as 20 minutes each day to go for a walk, ride a bike, or sit outside can provide a great boost of energy and change of scenery. It’s still important to maintain at least a six-foot distance from friends and neighbors, but there’s nothing wrong with shouting hello or giving a friendly wave.
Take up a hobby
This is a great time to discover a new hobby to love. One of the country’s largest puzzle makers, Ravensburger, recently reported more than a 300% uptick in sales of puzzles since social distancing began. People are looking for ways to occupy their time, and hobbies like puzzles or playing games with your family are a great place to start. You could learn a new language using an app on your phone or enjoy the easy creativity of an adult coloring book.
Create a routine
When days at home stretch out endlessly in front of us, it can be easy to fall into the habit of sleeping late or going days without changing out of your pajamas. There’s no shame in catching up or rest or wearing what you want, but making a routine that cares for your physical, mental, and professional needs is important. A daily routine as simple as getting out bed, making coffee, taking a shower, spending time exercising, and putting on a clean outfit every day can go a long way to helping keep your thoughts and emotions on track.
Keep up with Family and Friends
No other generation has had the resources we do when it comes to contact. You can video chat with your mom, text your best friend, or call that cousin you haven’t talked to in ages. Reach out and check in with older loved ones or sit down and write a thank-you note you’ve been meaning to get around to. We can’t all be together physically, but we can strengthen our emotional connections through conversation. And that can go a long way to calming anxiety and reminding us we’re not alone.