Living in isolation is likely not anyone’s first choice of living arrangements. Whether you’re living alone pining for the days of human interaction, or just wishing you had even a moment to yourself in between entertaining children, home schooling, and work responsibilities, all on top of living in an uncertain health environment, it’s understandable the past couple weeks could have you feeling like you could pull your hair out — but staying positive and mentally healthy is more important than ever right now.
1. Establish and Maintain a Routine
Nothing brings a sense of normalcy to a non-normal situation like developing and sticking to a routine. Our bodies and minds thrive when we develop good habits, so it really pays to nail down your day. A great place to start is by waking up and going to bed at the same times every day. I know, we sound like your mother, but keeping your sleeping patterns in check will make it easier to fall asleep so that your brain and body can reenergize and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the world the next day.
After that, it could be as easy as waking up a bit early every day to go for a run/walk, actually showering, combing your hair, or putting on your ‘fancy sweatpants’ to start your day; engaging in activities more than moving from bed to couch in yesterday’s sleep clothes gives us purpose in our day and even something to look forward to. After all, we have a lot of time on our hands these days so why not fill it with little normal tasks that help us feel productive (plus we know your cohabitants will appreciate you regularly bathing!).
2. Take Breaks
Working from home is still just that… work. And many studies are saying it may even be more mentally taxing than when we go into the office (Zoom fatigue anyone?). Do yourself a solid and remember to take small breaks in the middle of the day, even for 5-10 minutes every 2 hours or so. Walk around the block, get a glass of water, play with a pet or do some mindful breathing exercises, anything but continuing to stare at a screen. When the weekend rolls around, what’s the harm in a little delayed start hide and seek? These are already stressful times enough, so remember to give yourself a break from being on.
3. Get Some Fresh Air
It can be easy to feel pent up and trapped in your home but Spring is here people! Take advantage of the beautiful weather, chipping birds and colorful flowers to lift your spirits. Get some vitamin D and get an early start on your sunglass tan by taking a call from outside or having lunch on the porch. After dark, go for a moonlight stroll around the neighborhood, make dinner on the grill, or have a weeknight bonfire – with s’mores, obviously.
4. Turn Off the News
This is one we cannot stress enough. It’s hard to escape the constant Covid chatter and seriousness of the situation, especially with updates from health sources changing day to day, but incessantly watching the news or reading articles all day will only serve to cause stress and incite further panic. Give your mind a rest and try to limit news consumption to 10-15 minutes a day to get the updates you need and move on. Creating this separation will allow your brain to focus on other, more immediately productive things.
5. Connect With Family & Friends
We no longer have the excuse of not calling enough because we are too busy. We have time on our hands and we should spend it doing what really matters, connecting with those we love. It’s a wonder that virtual happy hours and Zoom calls with extended family have just caught on, considering we’ve had the technology for years, but what a game changer! Nothing brings more joy than getting to ‘cheers’ your college friends who moved away years ago or getting to meet the newest additions to the family from a safe distance. You may need to school the less technologically savvy on how to video call the first time, but we promise your mom will appreciate it (and yes, you’re still on mute).
6. Find Joy in the Everyday
It can be hard to find happiness amongst all that’s going on, but being thankful for the little things will go a long way for your well-being. Acknowledging the sunny day, your pet snuggling with you, a new recipe you tried, or the corny joke your family member just made, are all things that we might have skimmed over before, but relish in the little moments that make you smile and the mental shift will enable you to recognize and embrace joy all the more easily.
7. Understand It’s Okay to Feel Down
On those days you are finding it harder to stay super positive, know that that’s okay too. We’re all going through this weird time together and experiencing ups and downs. Talk to a family member, a coworker, or a counselor but just don’t keep it in. Simply saying “I’m fine” and continuing to struggle does nothing good for you, or those around you. Take a page from the airlines and remember that you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others. Plus, you never know, who you reach out to might be really looking forward to talking to someone too.