Lifestyle Tips for the COVID-19 Pandemic | Part Four: Maintaining Mental Health at Home
Mental health is a serious concern with a huge percentage of the world’s population sheltering in place in their homes. It’s great that so many people are sticking to the rules, and trying to help stop the spread of COVID-19, but it’s also tough to stay home all the time and maintain a positive attitude.
Lately, on social media we’ve been seeing a lot of posts urging people to not have goals during their time at home, not to try and achieve things, and to just sit and dwell on the situation we all find ourselves in. It’s true when these same memes say “you don’t have to write the great American novel, lose a ton of weight, become the most amazing artist anyone has seen, etc…” However, you do have to focus on keeping your body and mind healthy under difficult circumstances and someone giving you permission to stay on the couch, be depressed, and not engage with anyone or anything is simply bad advice.
Don’t listen to influencers and others about “quarantine fat”
Let’s start at the beginning and address the thing we are seeing most from influencers and on social media in general… the fearmongering and bullying posts about “quarantine fat.” All of these posts and messages are of the same sort that you would find in a beauty magazine. These are wretched, tired fear tactics and they really create an ugly mob mentality toward body weight and health. Should you be exercising in your isolation? Well, yes. That means get out and take a walk. Get some fresh air. Get some sunshine. Go for a run if you feel so inclined. It’s just a good idea to take breaks from your home and get outside. You can even develop a home workout program if you have the space and tools (and even video assistance). But don’t get bogged down thinking that you absolutely have to come out of this “a thinner, better you.” How about we just focus on staying healthy and surviving?
How do you stay engaged on a day to day basis at home?
We’ve addressed physical health, but what about maintaining a healthy state of mind? There’s a lot of different medical sites you can go to for professional help, and many of them have their own sets of suggestions and ideas to keep you going.
The important thing to focus on is self-care. That’s it. No big secret there. Keep yourself going and then you can worry about others in your home (if you are isolating with roommates or family). Start with the basics. Establish a normal routine for yourself, even though you don’t have a work schedule. Set your times of day you go to bed and when you get up. Maintain good personal hygiene; just the same as you would getting up and putting yourself together to go to work. Take your meals at roughly the same time that you normally would. Humans are creatures of habit and it really helps to have a kind of mental map of what your basic routines are each day.
Connect with others
Make sure to connect with friends, relatives, and loved ones on a regular basis. Social distancing and isolation don’t mean that you cut yourself off from people who care about you and support you. Set up call times and online conference meetings with others as you can. Laughter is the best medicine and seeing people’s faces helps you remember that we’re all in this together. You’re never truly alone as long as you have folks to reach out to.
Make sure your mind is stimulated
Engage your mind. Find something that stimulates you. Start reading more books. Pick up that incredibly daunting novel that makes your wrists ache from holding it because it’s so many pages! Revisit favorite movies, movie series (the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a great one for taking up a lot of time with stimulating visuals), and television shows. You can spend time online, but it’s important to limit that time and not fall down an obsessive rabbit hole of negative news about politics, the pandemic, or anything else that can cause you stress or worry. Un-plug. Give yourself a big break from social media and online in general and take a deep breath in the real world.
Keep your personal world a positive place
Make sure that if you are sheltering with others that you all feed positivity to each other! Get rid of negativity in your living space and make it a place where positive feelings and a positive outlook towards when things get better are the predominant themes.
Celebrate "me time"
Take some time for you. It’s OK if having people in your immediate space all the time gets on your nerves. It’s only natural. Stop, take a beat, and give yourself some you time to relax, be meditative, and have just a smidge of quiet time that we all need and usually have in our day to day lives.
So there you go. There’s some pretty straight forward and simple ways to engage your mind and body and keep yourself in a more positive headspace and positive living environment. Also, don’t be afraid to try new things. If you want to write. Then just sit down and write. If you want to be artistic and do DIY projects, do it. There’s no judges around you. Find things that make you happy and make them a part of your everyday routine. Again, we’re all in the same boat. You are not alone. We WILL get through this, and the world will return to its normally scheduled programs already in progress!