For some people, the feelings of anxiety and depression they are experiencing while engaging in self-quarantining can be compounded by uncertainty and feeling overwhelmed with what to do with their days.
Now is a time to be realistic and set tangible, healthy goals for yourself and your family which starts with setting basic structure and routine. I emphasize the word basic because while it is important to create some structure and routine in your day, this does not mean you need to have every 30 minutes planned out. For those who are working from home and/or have children engaging in distance-learning much of your day is accounted for. Others with more unstructured time in their day may feel more pressure to create a routine, but it is important to set realistic goals and activities that will help keep you and your family safe and healthy.
Here is a list of six suggestions to help ensure your mental well-being during this challenging time:
- The basics. Wake up at relatively the same time daily, shower, change out of your pajamas, eat three regular meals a day, and go to bed around the same time. This structure can help to create a feeling of some normalcy and control during uncertain times.
- Stay Connected. Set up times to “socialize” with at least one person outside your home. Tools like Facetime, Zoom, and Skype are wonderful ways to connect. Withdrawing and isolating from others will increase negative feelings.
- Get your heart rate up. Exercise is good for your physical and mental health. It is also a great way to burn off any pent-up energy you are feeling from staying inside. Be creative! You can use YouTube videos or have a dance party by yourself or with your family. A step stool is now a step bench and your shampoo bottle is your dumb-bell.
- Mindfulness, Mediation, Prayer. As a mental health expert, I cannot over-emphasize the importance of these activities. With so much uncertainty, many of us are spiraling, imagining worst case scenarios and “what if-ing”. Acceptance, giving up control, and/or engaging in present focused activities will help to break the anxiety loop.
- Pleasure Activity. Engage in one pleasure activity a day. This can be reading, watching a favorite show, painting, baking, playing video games. With all the stress we are experiencing and the pressure many of us are feeling throughout the day, it is important that you try to find some time for personal enjoyment in small activities.
- Helpful Activity. Take care of something or someone. This can be your child, family member, pet, or plant. Caring for something else gives us a sense of purpose and connection.
Remember, keep it simple. Our goal right now is to get through this time safe and healthy with our loved ones. That is what we need to focus on