by Leslie Losey
The world we live in currently is anything like what most of us have ever witnessed before. With so many “safer-at-home” orders in place and complete city lockdowns, life feels anything but normal right now. Schools are closed, parks are putting up barricades to keep us out and we’ve been restricted on travel which prevents a lot of us being with our friends and families. As a human species, we rely on communication and connectivity to be able to survive and thrive. So, it’s no wonder that many people are experiencing increased anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, and many other adverse effects of being socially isolated. Despite all of the negativity and uncertainty going on in the world, there are still some things we can do for ourselves daily to gain mental clarity again and keep things at home as normal as possible. Here are 5 ways to make sure your mental health is kept in check during a pandemic.
1. Keep your routine – but be flexible and creative. Humans are creatures of habit. So, when our habits and routines are disrupted, feelings of chaos and instability usually get the best of us. Luckily, this doesn’t have to be the case for our current situation. For those of us who are lucky enough to still hold a job, your “new” normal day-to-day work routine should reflect that of what you would typically do if it were any other day, especially if you are working from home. Since many of us don’t have a commute any more, that time can be utilized to add in something that you wouldn’t have otherwise had time for. Extra thirty minutes of jogging, anyone? If you are currently not working, look at it as an opportunity to get things done that you normally wouldn’t have time to do. Having a routine during a pandemic is vital for convincing your brain that nothing has really changed so you can try to keep those anxious feelings at bay.
2. Designate some time for yourself – This may seem like an impossible task if you are stuck at home with others. Roommates, spouses and children are likely demanding most of your attention right now, but it is vital to take some time to yourself so that you recuperate and recharge. Try to find a 30-60-minute time block each day that you’ll have all to yourself. This time could fill in the spot of your morning or afternoon commute if your schedule allows it. Yoga, HIIT, meditation, reading and a hot bath are just a few ways that you can practice some self-love. You may even be able to fit in more than one practice at a time which is sure to have a favorable effect on your mental health.
3. Optimize your nutrition – Now more than ever we should be focusing on what we are putting in our bodies and how it is affecting our health; both positively and negatively. Of course, most people are concerned about contracting COVID-19, but there are certain foods we can consume to make sure our immune system is fed the nutrients it needs to be able to fight off any cold or virus. Aim for foods high in vitamin A, C, D, E, B2, B6, B12, zinc, folic acid and iron. These nutrients are easy to get, truthfully. Load up on fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and as many vegetables as you can get your hands on. The more vegetables, the better. If you feed your body what it needs to thrive, it will surely give you some peace of mind.
4. Connect with at least three people each day – Since we are quite literally avoiding people these days, it is very important to keep a close connection with the people we care about. Family, friends and co-workers are people that we typically keep on a short rope in our “normal” lives and that shouldn’t change because of the quarantine. Reaching out to at least three people each day will ensure that we feel connected and loved despite being physically separated from one another. You never know how someone may be feeling right now, and it’s bound to make you jubilant if you make someone’s day. Talk about a win-win situation!
5. Learn something new – Have some extra time on your hands? Take this time to learn something new that you may have pushed to the side due to time constraints before the pandemic. There are many schools and organizations offering free courses, lessons and tutorials for people to take advantage of during this time. Hop on Google and do a quick search, and you may just come across something that sparks your interest. From learning a new musical instrument to learning how to fly a plane, you never know what you may find. Creating new goals for yourself and staying focused will definitely keep those happy chemicals flowing.