The coronavirus has turned life upside down, or a least sideways, for many of us. I think it’s safe to say that there is not a single person who isn’t being affected by this pandemic in one way or another. With businesses and schools closing their doors, rising financial difficulties and worries, and stay-at-home orders in place, it can be easy to start feeling anxious, depressed, frustrated, or just blah. Outlined below are some important things that you can be doing to keep your mental health in check during this challenging and uncertain time.
Move your body.
This is important to do on a regular basis and is even more important now. Doing some kind of physical activity will keep your energy up, release endorphins, alleviate stress and make you feel better about yourself. The thought of exercising can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Start with something that you enjoy and stick with it. Here are some ideas to get you started: · Go for a walk · Do yoga · Follow an exercise video · Go hiking · Dance in the living room · Do yard work · Ride your bike · Start a garden Practice gratitude.
With all the negativity circulating in the media and the frustration that comes with having to make changes to our daily lives, inserting a little gratitude into your daily routine can be really helpful. Remembering all the good things in our life and expressing our gratitude to others makes it a little easier to cope with the negatives. There are many ways to practice gratitude, but these are a great place to start: · Make a “feel good” playlist and listen to it often · Write to a solider · Go through your closet and find items to donate or sell · Journal about the things you are grateful for · Pray or meditate · Read inspiring quotes · Make a list of all the positive things about this situation
This can be helpful for passing the time and boosting your mood. Because being creative can have a meditative effect, it can be useful for reducing stress and anxiety. There are so many ways to express creativity, so use what you have available to you and have fun with it. You might consider doing one of the following: · Re-arrange your furniture · Draw something · Coloring · Make a new recipe · Paint something · Draw or write on the sidewalk with chalk · Write a letter to your future self about this experience · Take photos of your surroundings · Build something · Plan an event or your next vacation · Bake cookies · Dye your hair Connect with others.
Feelings of loneliness and isolation will likely start creeping in if they haven’t already. Even though it’s not safe to meet with others in person right now, technology has made it possible to maintain contact with your loved ones in other ways. Don’t underestimate the power of phone calls, video chats, and social media when it comes to connecting with your friends and family. You can also kick it old school and start writing letters. Try to do at least one of the following, if you haven’t already: · Call a friend · Video chat with family members · Write some words of encouragement to someone in a nursing home · Write a letter to a family member or friend · Use social media to share some photos with your loved ones · Start a group text to check in on friends or family Maintain normalcy.
Of course, this may seem nearly impossible right now, and understandably so. However, making an effort to keep some things in your life “normal” can provide a sense of reassurance and keep you grounded. This doesn’t have to be anything drastic, just do your best to keep some of your normal daily habits in place. Here are some examples: · Get dressed every morning · Continue showering regularly · Limit your news intake · Spend some time outside · Make a daily schedule for weekdays and stick to it · Eat a healthy meal · Drink plenty of water
Engage your brain.
This can look different for everyone and most people have a variety of things that they enjoy doing to stimulate the mind. Learning something new or focusing your brain power on something positive can keep you sharp and help the days not to seem so long. There are lots of different ways to do this, here are just a few ideas to try: · Read a book · Listen to a podcast or Ted Talk · Put together a puzzle · Complete a crossword puzzle or sudoku · Play brain games on your phone · Try something new · Learn and use a new word each day · Try origami
This is closely tied with maintaining your sense of normalcy. Completing projects and tasks throughout the day can leave you with a sense of accomplishment, and you’ll feel good about having done something constructive with this extra time that you have on your hands. You might already have some projects that you’ve been meaning to get to, but if not give one of these a try: · Deep clean your kitchen · Wash your car · Reorganize your closet, pantry, or cabinets · Catch up on laundry · Go through your email accounts and clean up your inbox · Give your pet a bath · Clean out the garage or garden shed · Vacuum the nooks and crannies of your house · Sort and file your household documents like bills, statements, and taxes Have some fun.
Maybe this idea sounds silly, but it’s important to make time for fun, especially when the world around us is in a grim state. Having some fun can also make it easier to stay on track with the other things that have been suggested, such as being productive and maintaining normalcy. Although many of the things that we do for fun are not available to us right now, that shouldn’t stop us. Here are some “social-distancing friendly” ideas:
· Watch a “feel good movie” at home
· Take a bath
· Go for a drive
· Watch an episode of your favorite show
· Play a game
· Camping in the backyard
· Watch cute animal videos online
· Play with your pet
· Have a “spa day” at home
· Build a fort
· Watch a comedy special
· Make your own bubble solution and blow bubbles
Take good care of yourself.
Feel free to print or download the worksheet to write out your own ideas or to keep you on track with some of the ideas listed above.
With life being so crazy right now, it is especially important to make your mental health a priority. Incorporating some of these suggestions into your daily life is a practical way to make sure that you are taking care of yourself. If you’re finding that these suggestions just aren’t enough to help you through this pandemic, consider scheduling an appointment with a mental health provider. Hang in there, and remember that we’re all in this together.
Claira Hart is a therapist who enjoys working with children, families, and couples to help them overcome depression, anxiety, behavioral problems, and family conflict. She is passionate about using a strengths-based approach in her work. received her Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy from Northcentral University and her bachelor’s degree in Family Studies and Psychology from the University of New Mexico.