5 Tips for Supporting Your Mental Health During COVID-19
Let’s get real for a second. I don’t know about you, but I’ve personally lost track of which Quarantine Day I’m on at this point. There are times when it feels like it’s practically been forever. While there’s much for me to be grateful for, even during this difficult time, I’ll admit that not knowing how long this whole social distancing thing is going to last is becoming a bit taxing.
Lately, I’ve found myself struggling a bit. Maybe there’s some of you out there who can relate.
Perhaps you’re working on the front-lines, and have to risk your health each day because you’re considered an essential service. Maybe you’re able to work from home, or have kids to look after, or are doing schooling to earn your event planning certificate – but you haven’t really been making much time for yourself.
Whatever your circumstances may be, we’re all facing our own struggles, thanks to COVID-19. With so much time at home – and so little time being around others – it can be easy for our mental health to take a bit of a downward slide.
Sometimes, it helps to have someone else there to motivate you; push and remind you to do things that are good for you, that you may have forgotten to do for yourself.
That’s why we’re here today. While we’re by no means experts, we do have a few suggestions for things you can try doing to support your mental health, and keep your spirits up while you’re cooped up at home.
Get some fresh air
Spring is officially here! That means that the weather is taking a turn for the better. Now is the perfect time for us to take advantage of it.
Fresh air is the perfect soul food… and this is a FACT! There are a ton of reasons why it’s scientifically proven to be good for your health, such as:
- It can help boost your immune system
- It lowers your chances of breathing in harmful pollutants
- The smell of fresh air increases happiness and decreases stress
- It increases energy in up to 90% of people
- And so much more!
It doesn’t have to be complicated, either! In fact, you barely need to put in any effort in order to reap maximum benefits. It can be as simple as sitting in your backyard, or on your balcony, for as little as 20 minutes each day.
If you have an urge to stretch your legs, you can also get outside and go for a walk! in most areas, this IS still an option. Just ensure that you keep a minimum of 6 feet away from anyone who crosses your path. If someone else lives in your immediate environment (such as a partner, a child, etc.), they can always accompany you!
Important Note: If you’re in a hard-hit area, you might be under a strict stay-at-home order that prohibits going outside for any non-essential reason. If that’s the case where you live, please follow those directives. As much as they suck, they’re put in place to help save your life.
Do a bit of exercise
Being stuck at home can make us stagnant. If we aren’t finding reasons to stay active, it can become easy for all of us to turn into couch potatoes. While we aren’t saying that you suddenly need to get into CrossFit or download P90X, we are saying that something is better than nothing.
It can be as simple as going for that walk we just talked about! Even by simply committing yourself to 20 minutes of exercise every day, you’ll be doing your body a world of good.
But hey! There may also be plenty of us who said we wanted to work on our fitness, as part of our 2020 New Year’s resolution (then sort of forgot about it shortly afterwards). Why not utilize all this down time to finally start working towards this goal?
Some easy suggestions for home workouts that don’t require any equipment include:
If you want to throw in some weights but don’t own any dumbbells, use some cans from your pantry! If you have a jump-rope lying around, this makes for a wicked cardio exercise!
Keep in mind that for some people, exercise can be difficult – be it mentally or physically. So, stick to your own pace. Do what makes YOU comfortable! Even if you only have it in you to exercise just once per week, that’s still an AWESOME effort, and it will positively benefit your mental health overall!
Put the electronics away
I’m personally terrible when it comes to detaching from my phone, so I have a goal to work on that. Studies have shown that staring too much at screens can heighten anxiety and cause feelings of loneliness. In the midst of social distancing, this is the LAST thing we want for ourselves!
While you don’t need to cut out your electronic devices completely, one way to support your mental health is to try and unplug from them at least once a day, even if just for a short period of time. Fill this time by doing something that instead stimulates your brain and/or keeps your hands busy!
For example: you can do a puzzle, play an instrument, bake a recipe, or learn a dance routine. If there’s a hobby you’ve always been interested in trying, now’s the perfect time to take it up! One benefit to being in the privacy of your own home is that you don’t need to feel shy.
No one’s watching, so get as creative and crazy as you want!
Stay connected with your loved ones
We’re all in the same boat right now. Chances are, your friends and family miss you just as much as you miss them. Like you, they’re probably pretty bored at times, and can also use the company. While texting and phone calls are great, there’s something comforting about seeing the person’s face.
If possible, try to video chat with a loved one on a semi-regular basis. At a time when we can’t physically be with them, it can make for a comforting substitute.
People are also finding innovative ways to connect with others while everyone’s self-isolating. Can’t get together for a movie night with your best friend? Why not FaceTime and pick a film on Netflix that you can both watch from your own homes! My BFF and I had a virtual movie night recently, and we actually had a lot of fun.
There are also tons of online games that can be played in groups, regardless of whether you’re physically together or not. My roommates and I invested in Jackbox Games, which I highly recommend to everyone! It comes with a variety of hilarious online group games that anyone can join in on and play (so long as they have access to the internet at home).
Focus on something exciting in the future
It can be easy to forget that as bad as things are right now, they WILL get better one day. This isn’t going to last forever. Eventually, life will go back to normal.
In the meantime, one thing you can do to support your mental health is to give yourself a goal for the future that you can start working on now. Not only will you have something exciting to look forward to, it’ll keep you motivated and occupied while you’re socially distancing.
For instance, maybe you’ve always had dreams of becoming a professional event and wedding planner. You may even want to someday start your own business. Well, you can always work towards this goal right now! You can take online courses from a reputable planning school, and earn your event planning certificate!
(Then again, maybe schooling is adding to your stress lately. If that’s the case, there’s nothing wrong with taking a break from it, too! You can always go back to it once you’re feeling ready.)
Whatever your aspirations are, it’s important that you never give up on them. Your dreams can be one of the very best things to help get you through a difficult time! Pick one that means a lot to you, and keep your sights set on it.
Bonus: Things you probably shouldn’t do, but would admittedly be hilarious
Have you reached that tell-tale level of boredom yet where you think to yourself, “I’m going to disguise myself in a T-Rex costume and see if I blend in outside”?
Because that’s exactly what a man in Spain recently did! Why? Well, he wanted to take his trash out. But with his city under a strict lockdown, that wasn’t an option. Until he remembered that there WAS a loophole: pet owners were still allowed to take their dogs on short walks.
Apparently, though, prehistoric dinosaurs are not the same thing as dogs. The man wasn’t outside for very long before he was arrested. Still, it makes for truly entertaining footage – and many of his neighbors did get quite the chuckle from his little escapade!
Funny enough, there’s another story – also, ironically, that took place in Spain – of a man who had a somewhat different plan to try and bypass the quarantine law. He so badly wanted some fresh air that he attempted to take a STUFFED ANIMAL for a walk.
My guess is, he was hoping authorities would think it was a dog? Either way, his plan failed spectacularly, and he too was reprimanded by the police.
(Slightly off topic, but I feel like he and T-Rex Man need to connect on Facebook and become best friends.)
We should probably reiterate that under NO circumstances are we encouraging you to break the law. While definitely amusing, these are also 2 examples of things you probably shouldn’t do… Unless you are allowed outside. Then please do this, and take pictures.
If nothing else, we hope this put a smile on your face. Perhaps there’s a sense of comfort in knowing that you are not alone.
Our point is, your mental health is important. The importance of finding healthy ways to cope during the COVID-19 crisis, and focusing on YOU, cannot be overstated. We’ll all make it through this thing together, and just remember: we’re always here for you!