Many of us across the United States have been in quarantine for what feels like forever. Its been months of isolating. It’s probably taking a toll on you both physically and mentally. Humans naturally need connections. We crave being around other people – even the introverts are probably struggling during this time. It can seem daunting, torturous, frustrating and even depressing. Even though we know it is to keep us safe and healthy it can be lonely to be quarantined for so long.
The inability to venture to your favorite store or see your friends can really start to take its toll. Schools have been closed so you may be stuck at home with your kids. Most jobs continue to work-from-home so you may be feeling a lack of motivation. All of this is normal. It is normal to feel frustrated. It’s normal to feel lonely. This is a totally new and confusing situation. Even though it may seen incredibly daunting there are several things you can do to stay positive during this time. We don’t know how long this will go on for so it’s important to take care of your mental health in addition to your physical health.
Limit Your Information Exposure
We know it’s hard to turn off the news or to stop scrolling through Facebook. It’s important that you don’t overwhelm yourself with too much information. Now that we’re several months in to this pandemic this might not be as big as a change as it previously was. Even so, checking the daily numbers and obsessing over what is going on isn’t going to do you any good.
Some good advice is to set aside specific time that you are “allowed” to gather information. Allow yourself an hour or two each day. Stick to this rule. In addition, it probably isn’t the best idea to watch the news right before bed. Besides the LED lights keeping your brain active it’s not a good idea to fill your mind with these types of thoughts before you try to fall asleep. This can lead to anxiety and restless sleeping habits. Instead, try watching an earlier broadcasting of the news so your brain has time to digest the information and settle before falling asleep. You can also help yourself with these restrictions by changing the settings on your cell phone. Most devices have a “screen time” setting that will help limit your use of certain apps – like a news app.
Focus on What You Can Control
There is so much going on in the world right now that we cannot control. This can be extremely overwhelming. It’s hard to feel a loss of power or control in life. So instead of stressing out about everything you are unable to control try to focus on the things you are able to control. For example, you can choose to disinfect your door handles, kitchen counters, and keys each day. You can choose to wear a mask whenever you are outside of the house. You can choose to get your groceries delivered. You can choose to limit your daily outings to essentials only. Once you’re focusing on all the things you are truly doing to help keep yourself and your loved ones safe you might find that you feel less anxious.
Many of us are working from home, and will probably continue to for several more weeks, if not months. As motivation may dwindle it is important to find things to keep ourselves busy. We may not be able to go to our usual shopping spots, or out to eat with friends but there are a number of great ways to stay busy during this quarantine. It’s important to not allow yourself an excess amount of time to sit and sulk. When you are stagnant it is not only easier to get lost in your own thoughts but it can lead to a less healthy version of yourself.
Try to pick up a new hobby. Connect with your friends and family via a video platform. Try out some new recipes you’ve been saving or start on a house project. If you are stuck for ideas of what to do at home you can always look up various options of talk to those around you to see what thy are doing to occupy their time. Many companies are offering discounted or free options on their products. For example, a large amount of colleges and universities have made their classes available, for free, online. Pick up a college course you’ve always wanted to take while you have this extra time.
Talk with Others
As we previously mentioned it’s a good idea to stay connected to your friends and family even though you can’t see them in person. There are numerous video platforms to use, many of them free. Schedule a happy hour or have dinner together over the phone. Stay in touch about how you’re feeling during this time. Just because you aren’t seeing your loved ones in person doesn’t mean you should disconnect from them altogether. If you find there is limited things to talk about since you’re mostly saying home try having a book club or a game night. Now is the time to get creative.
In addition to staying connected to family and friends you may want to think about seeking the help of a third party if you are struggling with the stress of the current situation. There are many counselors or therapist that are doing video-chat sessions. It’s important to take care of your mental health and discuss your feelings.
Stay Physically Healthy
It’s probably easy to just lounge around during this time. Working from home may mean you stay in your PJs all day. Don’t let yourself fall into this rut. Be sure you are getting outside and staying active. Even if it’s just a walk around the block. Gyms are most likely closed in your area so you may not have the option for a proper workout but there are plenty of at-home workouts you can do from your living room or backyard.
On top of focusing on your physical health you should also be mindful of what you are ingesting. Limit your alcohol intake as excess amounts can cause anxiety and depression. Try to stay eating healthy, even though it may be easier to just get takeout. You’re home so you have the ability to cook a proper meal. Eating healthy and continuing a workout routine will allow your body and immune system to stay healthy. This can help you in numerous ways.
We understand that times are tough and there is a lot of uncertainty in the world. Focusing on your mental health is just as important as focusing on your physical health. Choose what specifics work for you and focus on achieving small goals at first.