Last night, I had a video conference call with 10 of my best friends from college. I’ve kept in touch with some of them…but there were others that I haven’t seen in almost 20 years. At one point, I remarked, “It’s a shame it took a global pandemic to get the crew back together.” There are many uncertainties in our future…and lots of scary projections from the experts. But one upshot of this whole catastrophe is that, despite our physical distance, it seems that people are increasingly connecting back to their home teams. Staying connected to others is just one of the ways to stay sane amidst the insanity…but it’s certainly not the only way. This piece by my team at UpWellness is a resource for peace and calm in unsettled times.
Stay safe, stay home, and be well,
In the age of “sheltering in place,” “self-quarantining,” “social distancing,” staying at home is a new concept for many people who are used to spending their weekends out with friends or shopping and going to restaurants. Keeping a safe distance from people is the best way to help flatten the curve; however, it is critical that you stay sane and mentally healthy while you are cooped up indoors. Here are a few ways you can avoid cabin fever and make the most of your days sheltering in place.
Reach out by phone
Humans are social creatures, and we are used to talking to and interacting with multiple people daily. In fact, studies have shown that regular social interaction can help you live longer, fight off dementia, and enjoy better mental and physical health. Unfortunately, at this time of global pandemic, going out with your friends isn’t a viable option. Not only have most businesses shut their doors, but the responsible act of social distancing requires you to stay away from social gatherings.
Thankfully, modern technology in the palm of your hand can help you stay connected and enjoy social time without the risk of contracting COVID-19. Facetime or skype with your friends and family, text, use social media to give updates, check in on those who are sheltering in place and use this time to deepen relationships.
Set aside alone time
With kids home from school and many parents working at home, your house may begin to feel pretty crowded. Set up a healthy routine so that everyone can get their work done and be sure to reserve a few hours for quiet, alone time. Kids can read or play in their rooms while parents can enjoy some time to themselves.
Set together time
Just as you need to specify time to spend alone, try to spend some quality time together as well. This is an excellent time to connect with your family, your roommates, or whoever you live with, and you should take advantage of this. Eat healthy meals together at the table (not in front of the TV) and work to make conversation and do activities together, such as cards or board games.
Keep a consistent bedtime
Speaking of routine, try to determine a specific bedtime and wake up time and stick to it. Working from home (or just staying home) requires a little more self-discipline, and it is easy to stay up late watching tv and sleep in as long as you want when you don’t have a job to get to. Unfortunately, this can lead to a lot of health issues such as fatigue and weight gain (especially if you are snacking at night), so try to maintain a consistent bedtime each night.
Limit your news intake
While staying up to date and connected is important, you don’t want to be overwhelmed by worsening news or watching the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases ticking up by the second. This will only lead to increased anxiety and stress, which can cause chest pain, irritability, muscle aches, fatigue, nausea, and even an increase in blood pressure. Limit your news to a midday update and try to stay off of your phone when you first get up or right before you go to bed.
Prioritize fresh air and exercise
“Sheltering in place” doesn’t mean you can leave your home. It simply means that you need to take extra precautions and stay away from crowded areas and public places like parks, stores, and restaurants. Take a drive into the woods, go to the lake, or find another pretty, secluded spot near your home. Go for a run, a hike, or simply pack a picnic and enjoy being outside. Breathe in the fresh air and soak in the sunshine to help improve your mood, reduce cabin fever, and even boost your immune system.
There is no time like the present to start setting and achieving your goals. It is never too late! Work on your hobbies, do some organizing or take an online class. If there is something you have wanted to accomplish, use this opportunity to do just that. Having something to work for and look forward to while you shelter in place is critical for keeping a positive mindset and avoiding vegging out in front of the television.
Do things to unwind
Your time at home sheltering in place doesn’t have to be all productive activities and work. Be sure to take some time to do something that helps you unwind. Practice the art of self-care whatever that looks like for you. It might mean a nice, relaxing bath, or it could mean watching a comedy movie you love or cooking your favorite meal. If you feel better after physical activity, try looking up some at-home workouts for free on YouTube or simply crank up the music for an impromptu dance party.
-The UpWellness Team