It’s hard not to talk about it. The coronavirus pandemic (aka COVID-19) and a non- stop media coverage make the escape of this unprecedented situation difficult.
While even panic-buying toilet roll, soap and hand sanitiser is understandable, a sense of hysteria can be contagious and quite frankly, it can negatively impact your mental health, leaving many of us feeling worried or anxious, and worsening existing mental health conditions. Please remember that feeling stressed, scared, confused, angry or sad is normal, and that caring for your brain requires ongoing work.
1.Stick to a routine
As much as possible, get up at the same time as normal, follow your usual morning routines, and go to bed at your usual time. Prioritise looking after yourself, exercising, reading, getting enough sleep and spending time being creative or organising your living space – things you don’t normally have time for. Look at the self- isolating period as an “extra” time given to you, as an opportunity to sort things that you’ve been adding onto #idoitwhenivesparetime pile. Now it’s the time. Ticking off the boxes will give a great sense of achievement and make you feel good about yourself.
2. Keep active
Following the above, the link between physical activity and our mood, stress level, self-esteem and overall mental health is well documented, so keep your body moving! Whether it’s a home workout, dancing around your living room, cleaning your work space or decluttering your wardrobe! This is also a perfect opportunity to start a challenge, i.e. 21 days yoga challenge with Adriene, split challenge, push up challenge, etc. You get the gist, right? Every physical activity counts. This might positively impact your relationship with your other half too, just saying :)
3. Meditation and deep breathing
Research shows that deep breathing and breath exercises can calm you down and make you feel more in control. There are tons of free materials available online that you can use to guide you through the most effective breathing and meditation exercises. I personally use the Calm app (the free options) but there are many more that I’d encourage you to try. And though it’s a very basic stuff, please remember to breathe in through the nose, and out through the mouth, exhaling for longer than you inhale. This can help to slow your heartbeat and lower or stabilise blood pressure.
4. Stay well nourished and hydrated
Similarly to the above, the food we eat does affect our mental wellbeing. Try to eat more fruit and veg to maintain high levels of wellbeing and boost our immune system. I would avoid sugar intake at all costs as this will only disrupt your energy levels throughout the day. Eating regularly can help your mood too. Why not re- take a veganuary challenge? I think this whole crisis taught us nothing but that the plant based diet is the way to move forward.
Staying hydrated is just as crucial as staying nourished for both mental and physical health. I keep my water bottle at my workstation at all times. And I make endless cups of herbal teas too! Ask anyone that has ever been visiting my house :)
5. Stay connected
Staying connected with your family and friends during times of stress is imperative, so if you can’t physically meet up with them, do so digitally. Try video chats, online book clubs or movies enthusiasts’ forums! Have you heard about the Houseparty app yet? :)
Remember, even though we are socially distancing at the moment, we are in this together! And trust me, calling someone you know would make them very happy right now! Reach out to your network of friends. When you’re in distress and/ or struggling to cope with self- isolation don’t be shy in contacting a professional help that can provide emotional support
6. Be mindful of the media you’re consuming
Stay connected but do it wisely! The news about the virus hits us pretty much the minute we wake up, when we turn TV or radio on. This can fuel anxiety.
If it helps you to feel more in control, please refer to the information provided on the government’s website, which is the most up-to-date information. But avoid over-consuming news coverage as well as fake news and stipulations about the virus circulating online. Consider logging off social media until the panic has subsided.
As Andy Richter has said “Leaving cable news channels on all day is like listening to a deeply obsessive person obsess. It can’t be good for us. Ration that shit out” So let’s do just that, shall we? :)
7. Distract yourself
Whether that is TV, podcasts, books, online courses. There are countless lists of quarantine-friendly cultural recommendations currently floating around the internet. I literally typed in “coronavirus quarantine things to do'' and the idea of isolation wasn’t looking as grim as before! :) Take your pick!
8. Immerse yourself in nature
If you’re not in total quarantine I’d highly recommend venturing out to your local park or garden. This is a luxury that we take for granted and many of those that are housebound at the moment can vouch to that! Greenery helps us to relax, boosts our immune system, and stimulates our senses.
If you’re in self-isolation, please try to keep your windows open as long as possible to let in fresh air, surround yourself with plants and flowers, and sit by a window. Spotify and YouTube are an abundant source of nature-themed playlists which is always a great alternative.
I understand that for some people self-isolation can be boring or frustrating. You may feel lonely. Trust me though, we’re in this together! And when this crisis will pass (which it will) the world will become a better place for it. Stay safe.