Social distancing has now become a way of life for many people in some parts of the world. And while the simple task of staying indoors doesn’t seem hard, it can take a significant toll on one’s mental health.
In uncertain times such as these, human beings begin to feel a lack of control; hopelessness easily seeps into their thoughts, and the absence of interaction can lead to strong feelings of loneliness.
But just because they can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. While people wait patiently for this all to be over, it’s important to make sure they are isolating in a way that isn’t destructive to their wellbeing.
In order to keep this in check, below are some practical ways to nurture our mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
■Connect with others
Human connection is a vital part of mental health. Whether you are connecting with others through a phone call, a video chat, an online game, or face-to-face, make sure you are making this a priority.
■Move your body
While the gym is a no-go area, movement and exercise is still a must. Having a dance party (even if it’s just you) is a great way to move your body. You can also watch dance aerobics videos on YouTube and dance along to burn some calories.
Staying in doesn’t necessarily mean staying behind locked doors. Stepping outside or even going for a walk can offer countless opportunities for novel, sensory experiences and paying attention to your senses is a wonderful way to practice intentional, mindful living.
■Talk to a mental health professional
While travel and face-to-face interaction isn’t encouraged during this time, many mental health professionals are currently offering teletherapy—which is just as effective as in person meetings. They can and will help navigate everything you are feeling, related to COVID-19, or not.
■Limit your time on social media and the news
It’s important to stay informed, however, social media and news stations can be riddled with scare tactics and misinformation which are not helpful for protecting your mental health.
■Read or listen to E-books
The transportive quality of books makes them a great tool for passing the time. Got unread novels lining your shelves? “Now is the time to pick them up and start reading them. If books aren’t your thing, there are some great podcasts out there to check out, too.
■Listen to music that makes you feel good
Music allows us to feel emotions that we experience in our lives. Find music that helps you feel what you need at the moment and create playlists or look for already created playlists to check out new music that will lift your mood all day.
■Make space for all of your feelings
Yes, a spike in your anxiety level is normal and to be expected. Whether you are feeling anxious about the future, grateful about your current situation, lonely because of social distancing, or anything in-between, know that all of these feelings are valid.
Give yourself space to feel all of these things and lean on your friends, family, and therapist for support. If talking to others doesn’t feel quite right, try writing things down. Regardless of how you do it, it’s important to feel your feelings, instead of holding onto and ignoring them.
■Maintain boundaries about COVID-19 talk
Yes, you want to stay informed, but don’t allow yourself to be submerged in the non-stop discussion about COVID-19. This makes setting boundaries in regards to your dialogue vital. This is what boundaries might look like this: “I don’t want to talk about the coronavirus right now.”
“I respect your opinion on this situation, but I am allowing myself to come to my own conclusion.”
“I don’t feel comfortable shaking hands right now.”
■Understand that feeling grounded isn’t likely
There is a lot of uncertainty happening in the world around us. Because of that, it can be difficult to focus on the present moment and to feel like you just don’t feel like yourself.
You may be feeling off whatever “feeling off” means to you. Know that this is extremely normal, even if it’s frustrating, and allow yourself to feel a little frustrated because pretending everything is fine won’t help shake off that feeling. You have to be true to yourself and be open about what you are feeling.