A few short months ago, social distancing was unthinkable. Now it has become a global norm as we unite to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
While this a necessary measure, we can not overlook our mental wellbeing. People are social by nature. Because social distancing goes against that, we are at risk to feeling isolated, frustrated, and bored. (Maybe we should rename it to physical distancing instead?) This is especially a concern for people with pre-existing mental health diagnoses, but also those in good health.
Let’s talk about what you can do to feel mentally strong to prepare for the road ahead.
Find normalcy where possible. Most of us have, and thrive on, a routine to our days. That means most of us have also had to adjust our routines.
Think about what you can still keep routine. Used to work 9 to 5 in an office? Work 9-5 at home.
Take one day at a time. This is tough one for all of those planners out there. We don’t have any control on when our social distancing will end, so let’s focus on what we can control. Before you go to bed, write a list of what tasks you plan to get done the next day. Don’t worry about the week. Just one day. Here’s what was on my list today: meals, online work, gets kids doing their online school, yoga, take a walk. Just keep it simple, and add or take away what you need as the day goes on. The structure and control will be fulfilling.
Stay connected. This is so important! There are so many ways to “see” your family and friends online. Schedule FaceTime or zoom lunches. Be creative! Talk about and share your feelings of frustration, worry, or loneliness because of what’s going on. Others are feeling the same way. Blossom is offering free Zoom hangouts grouped by age throughout the week, and we have lots of Instagram lives and Facebook lives, too.
Be physically active. I know the gyms are closed, but try to motivate yourself to do a home workout- either one you make up or with the help of YouTube.
Limit media intake. Being informed is important, but this is online 24/7. Limit your intake to avoid feeling overwhelmed. If it begins to feel like a debate of opinions and not facts, take a break.
Find things you enjoy. Do you have interest in artwork? Try it! Teach yourself to dance. Don’t worry about your skill level. Can you start a small garden? This will help tackle boredom.
Focus on the positives. Write down something you are grateful for every day. Download a meditation app, like Calm, to guide you on exactly how to relax.
Support others. Call and check on a neighbor who may need help with getting groceries, or make a financial donation to a local food bank. Only do what you are comfortable with emotionally and financially.
Bond with your family in meaningful ways. If you live with others, dust off the old board games, or play cards. If you live alone, call or FaceTime your family and friends. Even a mundane task like cleaning out the closets can be made more fun as a family activity with music in the background.
Keep a healthy diet and sleep schedule. As tempting as it is, don’t resort to all junk food. (It happens in times of stress.) Remember balance. Eat healthy but don’t deny yourself some treats. Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual, and stick with the same bedtime and wake schedule.
Remember, this will pass. I know it’s hard not knowing when. Visualize a stronger version of yourself on the other side of this. It’s possible! If you think you need more help, just ask!