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Like more than 217 million other Americans, my family is currently under shelter-in-place orders due to Coronavirus.
That means no going to work, school, or leaving the house for any reason unless absolutely necessary.
And, it has meant some big changes for all of us.
No time with friends or family not currently living in the household, no dinners out or heading to the theater for the latest movie, and shopping trips are over — at least for right now.
Unfortunately, those changes have also come with challenges to our mental health.
I’ve found myself anxious, worried about what will happen next, and analyzing every cough or sneeze.
My kids have been bouncing off of the walls with excess energy that simply hasn’t had anywhere to go and have been more likely to push boundaries that they normally don’t test.
I even began waking up at night with a feeling of sadness — something that’s never happened to me before.
And, my family and I are not alone in these problems…
The effects of loneliness and self-isolation have begun to eat at people across the country, as what amounts to a quarantine goes on with no end in sight.
That’s why during this time it’s so important to focus on your mental, not just your physical health.
Here are five ways I’ve begun to turn the tide on the anxiety and depression brought on by self-isolating that you can use to boost your mental health during shelter-in-place.
1. Get into a routine
When you don’t have to be anywhere in the morning, it’s easy to fall into the trap of sleeping late, watching too much television and only getting to the important things when you absolutely have to.
However, sticking to a regular routine can help you not only feel good about yourself but create a sense of normalcy in a world that’s anything but.
Decide on when you will get up each day, what time you’ll handle your work, exercise, spend family time and more. And, don’t forget to stick to it.
2. Get dressed
I saw the funniest survey on Facebook yesterday. It was asking what the least used item in your house was right now during shelter-in-place.
The overwhelming answer?
Yup, pajamas are comfortable and it’s way easier to just stay in them all day. But believe me, just getting dressed like you normally would can give you a vital sense of control over your life.
3. Build new habits
I doubt there’s a single one of us out there who hasn’t dreamed about trying something new or learning a new skill that they just haven’t gotten around to.
And, honestly when is a better time to make that dream come true than right now?
So, order that guitar and sign up for online lessons, start those YouTube yoga classes you’ve been promising yourself, or meditate each night before bed.
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4. Keep a journal
It can be helpful to not only keep a record of your negative emotions during this time as a way to acknowledge them and move forward but also the things you are grateful for – like your family, your health, the food you have in your pantry, your pet who never leaves your side, and more.
This can help to boost your mood and lower your stress levels, both of which can keep your immune system going strong.
5. Focus on ways to be together
If you live with other family members, now is the time to get closer.
My family has instituted game time each night, from board games to video games, in order to spend more time together. And, since we’re still allowed to be outdoors for exercise, we’ve been enjoying basketball and flying kites.
Of course, if you live alone, connecting can be more difficult but still not impossible.
We’ve been using Zoom, FaceTime, and Skype to stay in touch with my sister’s family, my kids’ friends, and work colleagues, which has helped us realize we’re not alone in this world.
If you don’t find ways to cope with the loneliness, anxiety, and depression brought on by the isolation caused by shelter-in-place, they will eat at you. So, take steps now to guard your mental health and come out the other side stronger than ever.
- See Which States and Cities Have Told Residents to Stay at Home — The New York Times
- 11 Expert-Backed Ways to Manage Your Mental Health While Self-Isolating — Best Life