Yes, our lives are disrupted. Restaurants, theaters, shops, and other businesses are closed for the time being, and each day feels like a year, with new updates, new statistics, new predictions, and new restrictions. Staying home is your best option, but this can suddenly prove a lot harder when you don’t really have a choice and have been strongly advised to stay away from large (or even small) gatherings of people. So what do you do when your life is upended? How can you stay mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy in the midst of COVID-19? What should your focus be in the coming weeks and months?
Though it may seem like everything is canceled in this time of self-quarantine and social distancing, there are still plenty of things that aren’t…I’d like to remind you that:
- Family is not canceled.
- Friends (on Facetime and Skype) are not canceled.
- Your imagination is not canceled.
- Conversations aren’t canceled.
- Music is still here.
- Long walks are not canceled.
- The mountains, the lakes, the rivers, the woods…not canceled.
- Books will not be canceled.
- Hope will not be canceled.
- And…Self-care will not be canceled.
What you can do to shift your focus
Take breaks from the news
One of the best things you can do for yourself is set aside sometime each day to remove yourself from electronics and the internet. Put your phone down, turn off your laptop, and do something else to occupy your time. Nothing so earth-shattering will happen that you can’t find out about it in 30 minutes. This will help allow you to focus on something positive and will shake you out of the constant bad news in the media.
Take care of your body
Mental and physical health are intrinsically linked, which means that looking after one directly affects the other. It goes both ways too! Take long walks, meditate, stretch, do yoga, drink lots of water, eat fresh fruits and veggies, and focus on building up your immune system. When your body is in prime condition, you will think clearer and be able to maintain a healthy outlook on the current situation.
What a great time to get outdoors! With spring on the horizon and many city activities postponed for the time being, now is the perfect opportunity to reconnect with nature. If you are temporarily off work or working from home, you don’t even have to wait for the weekend. Drive to the mountains or the woods and find a place where you can hike, string up a hammock, bike, or swim, and enjoy the natural beauty around you. As long as you aren’t in crowds, you are still practicing appropriate quarantine procedures while getting essential fresh air and natural medicine.
Connect with others
Just because you can’t necessarily spend time with them in person, doesn’t mean you have to cut off contact with your social circle. Share support, concerns, and seek to find ways that you can help each other. Try online games that you can do together to pass the time or read the same book as your friends and then talk about it over video chat.
Fill your time with relaxing hobbies
If you’ve always wanted to start a garden or even have a few plants, there’s no time like the present! What about that 2,000 piece puzzle that’s been sitting in your cabinet for years? Do you have a dusty guitar sitting in the corner that you’ve meant to learn? Why not pick it up and use YouTube to start doing just that. Try that complicated recipe that has always intimidated you and whip up a delicious gourmet meal. Taking your focus off of the coronavirus and spending your time at home in a productive, healthy way is one of the best things you can do to look after yourself and maintain hope and positivity in such a dark time.
Remember, staying up to date on any new developments and restrictions and abiding by government regulations is the best thing you can do personally to help flatten the curve and do your part in reducing the spread of COVID-19. However, it is still a good idea to maintain a routine and focus on staying calm and looking after your mental health as much as possible. This will allow you to weather the storm and keep stress and anxiety at bay.
If you are having struggles with your mental health, have worsening symptoms from preexisting mental health conditions, or are overwhelmed by depression, anxiety, or feelings of despair, the CDC has recommended that you call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. (TTY 1-800-846-8517). Or call 911 if you are thinking of harming yourself or others.
Disclaimer: “None of this has been proven to prevent, treat or remedy COVID-19, these are just things to consider.”
-The UpWellness Team