The world is rapidly changing in order to stay ahead of COVID-19, creating financial and academic struggles for everyone. Although these are all very real and significant issues, it is crucial to not forget about your mental health.
Whether you are a student wondering how you are going to manage classes online, an employee switching to remote work from home, or an essential worker braving the pandemic, your life is drastically changing. Here are some tips to assist you in maintaining a healthy mental state as this pandemic continues:
Self-imposed quarantines and stay-home mandates have each day blurring into the next. Our routines have completely changed and the places we would frequent daily, whether it be offices, stores, or our favorite coffee shops, are pick-up only or shut down completely. Navigating this new normal is difficult, especially when it means staying in the house all day. Not having anywhere to go makes it very easy to slip into bad habits, and a lack of motivation. One of the best ways to combat this is to maintain structure by setting a routine.
Go to bed at a reasonable hour around the time you would if you had to go into work the next day, and have a standard wake up time. Start your morning early, as sleeping in too late can actually cause you to be more tired. Do morning stretches, have a cup of coffee, and eat a hearty breakfast.
Use planners and to-do lists to structure your week of deadlines and assignments so you do not get overwhelmed. Workout, meditate, or do something good for your soul at the same time each day, and only check your phone at times you would be able to if you were at work or in class.
Staying informed is important. Watch the news and keep up with the best ways to stay safe and slow down the spread of the virus.
However, there is such a thing as too much information. It is important to limit your exposure to the news. You do not need to know every time a new case is discovered or every time the death rate goes up from the disease. Constantly checking the news and reading similar stories that contain no new information will only increase your anxiety levels and make matters worse. There are also a variety of anxiety-causing reports that may not contain factual information, so ensure that your sources are fact-checked and accurate.
Spending your day stressed about the uncertainty of the situation is not going to help anyone. Limit your coronavirus media consumption to once daily and try not to worry too much about what you can not control.
This one may seem obvious, but it is so important! Physical and mental health often play off one another and work simultaneously. Working from home and gyms closing makes it harder to find conventional ways to exercise, but if you make time to do so, your mental health will thank you.
Go for a walk around your neighborhood, take your dog for a run at a local trail, or ride your bike around town. There are so many ways to stay active while also safely practicing social distancing. Exercising releases endorphins and increases serotonin levels, which increases your general feeling of well-being and boosts your mood. Working out at least 30 minutes daily will enhance your day and is a great way to ensure that your mental health stays in check.
Likewise, make sure to not only eat quarantine snacks but real foods. Trade the sugary soda for some green tea, known to reduce stress and anxiety, and trade the processed foods for some fruits and vegetables. This is not to say to ditch your favorite snacks altogether; everything is okay in moderation. Just make sure to feed yourself some hearty meals that ensure your body gets enough of the vitamins that it needs to keep your mental health strong.
Now that your house has become your new place of work, you might feel like you should be spending every waking moment working. It is important to remember that after work and on the weekends you would come home and do things you enjoy, so keep that routine!
It may seem like there is nothing to do in the house besides watching Netflix and snacking, but I promise that there is. Passing the time by reconnecting with old hobbies and things that you enjoy will not only relieve stress but leave you feeling fulfilled and productive.
That guitar you bought but never played? Watch some Youtube lessons on how to play it. That one closet or room you never look at because it is so messy? Clean it, and list the items you do not want on eBay. Paint a canvas for that empty spot on your wall that you have been wanting to fill.
Social distancing is hard. Going from seeing your friends and coworkers daily to not knowing when you are going to see them again next is a difficult transition, especially for those who thrive on connecting with others.
Make sure not to mentally isolate yourself during this time. If you catch yourself feeling lonely, that is completely normal. So many people are in the same situation, missing their friends and family. Luckily, there are a wide variety of ways to stay connected through social media, video calls, and even virtual meetings on platforms like Zoom and Skype.
Just because you can not see your friends in person does not mean you can not at all. You just have to be willing to try new things. For example, have a movie night! Netflix recently added a feature where friends can watch movies together at the same time.
Now is an opportunity to reconnect with old friends or distant family and to remind those closest to you how much they mean to you. Call your family and friends and tell them you love them. We are all in this together.
Lastly, be kind to yourself. This is a new way of living, one that you may have never experienced before. Some days are going to be harder than others, and it is okay to spend some days doing nothing.
Laziness may strike one day, leaving you unmotivated to do your work. A daunting article may cause you to feel anxious about the state of the world. It is normal to have mental highs and lows as the virus runs its course. But pay attention to these highs and lows, and let yourself feel them! Trying to bottle them up will only produce more anxiety. Instead, think about these thoughts and feelings and know that they won’t last forever.
If you are struggling more than you think is normal, or have a pre-existing condition that makes these times especially hard – remember, your mental health is essential to your overall well-being. Try a new virtual mental health platform that can keep you on track, like BetterHelp or TalkSpace.
Hopefully, these tips will help ease some of your stress and help you to be successful as you stay home. Take a deep breath; everything is going to be okay.
We are here for you! Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need help.