There was plenty to be stressed and anxious about, even before most of the world experienced lockdowns and social isolation. When you add loss of autonomy and connectedness, fears of infection, frustration, financial loss, or changes to sleep schedules on top, mental health could be in increased danger.
Identify how your mental health is affected
There are several common signs that your mental health is in distress. Try to look for them in yourself and your close ones to better assess where you stand.
Fear and worry about your own health
Changes in sleep or eating patterns
Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
Worsening of chronic health problems
Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
If one or more of these apply to you or someone in your household you should read on and consider implementing some of the advice in this article.
Take care of your body
Giving your physical body extra attention can have a significant positive impact on your mental wellbeing. Consider the following aspects and read more in our related articles if you think you could improve in some areas.
Eat nutritious meals.
Move your body regularly. Keep cycling, workout at home, take walks.
Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Ideally, get at least 8 hours.
Drink plenty of water.
Stretch, take a shower, meditate, or take deep breaths when you feel tense. Here is a quick relaxing routine.
Reframe your situation
How we view discomfort is affected by how we view our current circumstances. For example, if you’re cycling up a big hill, your legs are hurting like hell, your lungs are burning, and your head is screaming at you to stop. But you do this voluntarily and repeatedly. That’s because you frame this pain and suffering as training, as something that’s good for you.
You can reframe quarantine in a similar way. If you tell yourself that you’re choosing to stay home and isolating to help everyone stay safe, to protect the most vulnerable, and to make this pandemic as short as possible. This can empower you. You will be more likely to take the discomfort that comes with quarantine head-on and limit the perceived mental strain.
Develop coping skills
We all have ways of coping with mental stress. With the added strain of quarantine, it’s important to develop them and make them into a regular part of daily life. Here are a few examples of coping skills that will help you unwind in a way that’s not self-destructive like excessive alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs use.
Listen to an interesting, positive podcast
Catch up on reading
Play video games
Pick up a hobby you’ve always wanted to try
Go into the garden, spend time in nature
Start creating, write, draw, build something, play an instrument, sing
Make a plan for each day
If you are struggling with boredom and not enough structure it will help to make a simple plan for the day. You can do this even if it seems like you don’t really have anything important to do in a given day. You can put down a few things that are easy to accomplish and help support your wellbeing. Your daily list might contain things like: make my bed, cook a nutritious meal, exercise for 20 minutes, have dinner with my partner, brush my teeth, read. The simple act of ticking those boxes will give you a mental boost and you will feel more accomplished and aware of all the good things you did for yourself that day.
Connect with others
It’s more important than ever to stay connected with your family and friends during the quarantine. Try to build it into your daily routine, even if you don’t have anything special to say or if you don’t feel like it. It’s worth scheduling video calls with those you can’t see in person. Similarly, it’s good to eat regular meals together with those in your household. You can also use social media and other virtual ways of communication to stay connected with communities you are a part of.
One of the most powerful yet underused ways to help yourself feel better is to help someone else. You can volunteer your time in your local community. For example, you can try delivering groceries to older people that could use the help, or tutor kids via video calls. If those options aren’t available, you can always donate to a good cause or simply be kind to other people whenever you interact with someone online or offline.
Stay informed, not overwhelmed
One of the worst things you can do while quarantined during a pandemic is to stay glued to the screen watching the news. Seeing the numbers constantly go up and all the worst-case scenarios highlighted is a sure way to make you extra anxious. The best approach is to select one or two official sources of reliable information and check those once a day. That way you will stay informed about what you need to do to stay safe and keep everyone else safe. If you want to know other tactics that will help you reduce the amount of stress in your life, check out our previous article.
Ask for professional help
All of the above advice should help you protect your mental health but these are unprecedented times. Things can get out of hand even for those that do everything right. If you, or someone you care about, feel overwhelmed it’s the right thing to do to seek professional help.