There are times in life when keeping a positive outlook truly is a challenge. The COVID-19 pandemic sure is one of those moments.
Not only is the world faced with a major global health crisis, but we’re also witnessing economic consequences and prevailing uncertainty. Combined with the fact that most people are either self-isolating or quarantined, it becomes increasingly obvious that taking care of our mental health should be a priority.
But that’s not easy to do. After all, the stress of the situation can be made far worse by the fact that we’re shut up in our homes, unable to see friends, and having to adapt to completely new daily routines. Nonetheless, it’s not impossible.
If you’re wondering how to take care of your mental health during quarantine, here are a few simple things to try.
Address your worries
There’s a lot to take in at the moment, and all of us process things at our own pace. If there’s anything in particular that’s got you worried, make sure you’re not pushing it down. After all, worries can easily turn into unhealthy mental patterns that lead to obsessive thinking, physical anxiety, doubt, and fear.
Try to be practical in this situation, and divide sources of stress into circumstances you can and cannot control. Make sure you have the right information – but don’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed – and take any necessary measures to prepare yourself and your family.
If you’re naturally more prone to anxiety, or just feel like you’re coping with too many things at the moment, don’t be afraid to talk to a close friend, or seek out the help of a therapist. Having someone to talk to will alleviate your stress and put your mind at ease.
There are numerous health benefits of daily meditation. And if it’s not already part of your daily ritual, then you should definitely give it a go. With this type of introspection, you can not only reduce stress and decrease blood pressure, but you can also do a lot to strengthen your immune system and improve your attention span.
If you’ve never meditated before, it’s good to know you can do it absolutely anywhere. Plus, starting out with as little as 5, 10, or 15 minutes a day is enough for you to reap the benefits. To make things easier, you can download a guided meditation app, which will help you get started.
Physical exercise is extremely important for mental health. As the Latin saying goes, mens sana in corpore sano – a healthy mind in a healthy body.
Unfortunately, most people’s flats don’t give them that much space for movement, which makes working out pretty challenging. Luckily, yoga can be done almost anywhere, and all you need is a mat. Research has shown that doing yoga even just a few times per week can significantly lower cortisol levels, as well as reduce anxiety.
Try to aim for two or three sessions per week. They don’t have to be long ones – all you need is somewhere between 20 and 45 minutes. If possible, do your workout first thing in the morning. This way, you’ll not only start the day energized, but you’ll also give your metabolism a much-needed boost.
Get enough sleep
One big thing you can do to take care of your mental health during these times is to make sure you’re getting quality sleep. Research has shown a correlation between poor sleep and depression, anxiety, and ADHD, which shows the importance of a good night’s rest.
If you’ve switched to working from home, don’t let yourself sleep in or go to bed too late, and try to develop a routine that will foster a healthy circadian rhythm. According to this study, turning down your bedroom radiator a few hours before bedtime, dimming the lights, and staying away from digital screens are all great ways of signaling to your body that it’s time to wind down.
Eat well and get fresh air
While we’re on the topic of basic health practices, make sure your nutrition isn’t slipping during these times. Do your best to eat healthy, vitamin-rich foods, as well as to stay away from inflammatory fats and sugars. Some vegetables even have a positive effect on mental health, so try to include fresh, antioxidant-rich fruit and veg in your diet.
Another big thing you can do for your emotional wellbeing is to spend at least some time outside. If you don’t have a backyard where you can enjoy the sunshine, try to have your morning coffee on your balcony, or spend some time by an open, well-lit window. This will allow you to absorb some naturally occurring vitamin D3 that’s been linked to improving mental health.
Do the things that bring you joy
Although the current situation is difficult, it’s also a rare opportunity to explore your hobbies and dedicate more time to them. Hobbies are a great way to relax and unwind, and may even prove to be a temporary distraction from the fact that you’re stuck in quarantine.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should pressure yourself into doing things you don’t feel like at the moment. Just listen to your mind and your body, and allow yourself time to cope with the situation.
Last but not least, don’t be discouraged by the fact that you’re stuck at home. Although it’s far from ideal, try to find positives in the situation: you’re doing what it takes to keep yourself and your loved ones safe, you’ve got the opportunity to turn inwards and focus on yourself, and you can use this period doing something you’ve never had time for before. With a positive outlook, you can rest assured that your mood will lift as well.