The world is being told to stay put in our homes and practice “social distancing” by limiting our trips outside the home and social contact during the COVID-19, or “coronavirus”, pandemic. While we’re all concerned with our physical health as it relates to avoiding the virus, many are also concerned about their mental well-being.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has put out guidelines to help individuals handle the stress of pandemic. Humans are inherently social, so social distancing feels unnatural. There are many things you can do during this time to combat stress and anxiety until this period ends.
Have a Routine
When our lives are thrown off balance, routines help stabilize us, especially for children who thrive off routine. Keeping a routine is great for our mental health and encourages resiliency. A routine will look different for everyone depending on your situation, but keeping regular eating times, sleeping times, and time for physical activity is important. Scheduling social time, such as video calls, can help you maintain a social connection to others outside the home.
By having too much unstructured time in your day, you leave yourself open to boredom. Boredom could lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms, or even increased depression and anxiety. Routine also keeps us from being overwhelmed. If you wake up each day with a routine, you can prevent decision fatigue because you know what to expect from your day.
Starting or maintaining a physical fitness routine is a great way stay healthy and make good use of your time. Thankfully, today’s technology makes working out at home easier than ever. During this time, many fitness companies are offering free trials to online workout programs, or you can dust off some old fitness DVDs. Many online fitness videos require little to no equipment.
If you’re able, you can also get outside and get some fresh air during your workout. Go for a run, walk, or ride your bike, as long as you’re maintaining social distancing.
While maintaining social distancing practices, try to get outside if you can. Spending time outdoors is good for both our physical and mental well-being and is associated with decreased anxiety and depression. Even just being outside and breathing fresh air for a few minutes daily can be very beneficial!
Clear Out Some Clutter
Cleaning and organizing can help you feel more in control of your situation and feel productive. Decluttering will also give you a break from the stress of the pandemic and help you work towards a positive goal. Use any extra time you might have to reorganize if you don’t have much to clean or consider donating items you no longer use.
Meditation is a powerful tool that can potentially help you reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. Numerous studies have shown that meditation is beneficial to our mental health. Even if meditation isn’t your thing, you can try just closing your eyes and breathing slowly in order to calm your mind. Slow breathing has been used clinically to reduce stress and aid individuals having panic attacks.
Maintain Social Connections
As humans, we crave social connectivity. Having our social life stripped away is a challenge. Try to maintain your social connections as much as possible through texting, talking on the phone, or having a video chat.
Staying socially distant is challenging, but it’s one of the best things we can do at this time. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not as productive as usual or if you or your children are clocking lots of screen time. This is not normal and we shouldn’t expect our lives to be entirely normal for some time. If you miss a day of being physically active or have a low day, it’s okay to cut yourself some slack.
During this unprecedented time, our practice is utilizing teleconferencing. Teleconferencing has made it possible to see a mental health professional from a distance.
With recent requirements for social distancing, many therapists and clients have had to either pause their work or make other arrangements, including meeting by video conference.
Please visit this link to learn more about teleconference therapy sessions.