In these extraordinary times, when we are being urged to “go home and stay home,” it can be easy to slide into a gloomy mood. Fortunately, there are some tips and tricks you can take to help you stay serene and even upbeat while you socially distance.
Look for Inspirational Stories
Every day we’re bombarded by a deluge of COVID-19-related news, which can be, well, a little distressing. To offset this glut of bad news, seek out heartwarming stories of individuals and communities that have responded to this crisis with bravery or creativity, like the Italians who played music on their balconies while locked down. The obvious place to find uplifting news is the Good News Network, where you can read about this hotline that plays pre-recorded messages of positivity.
Create a Healthy Routine
Number two on our list is adding structure to your life. Although hanging out in pajamas can be enjoyable for a day or two, in the long run, you’ll likely end up feeling bad about yourself. It’s better for your mental health to keep your regular sleep schedule and to get dressed each day. You also need to make nutrition a priority and maintain regular mealtimes. Avoid using junk food binges, drinking, smoking or endless TV watching to numb out your anxiety. Instead, schedule regular times to exercise, to virtually connect with others, and to work on hobbies and projects. Make a point to plan your day in the morning so that you don’t fritter away your time (be sure to create a to-do list). In the evening, focus on relaxing and unwinding.
Speaking of relaxation, one of the best ways to unwind is to practice mindful meditation, namely, sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and focusing your mind on the present rather than dwelling on concerns about the past or future. According to the Harvard Health Blog, one study showed that a mindfulness-based stress reduction program helped quell anxiety symptoms in people with generalized anxiety disorder, which is marked by hard-to-control worries, poor sleep, and irritability. Although you can’t enroll in a face-to-face meditation program these days it’s easy to find online support. For instance, you can attend live online classes with Buddhist masters or listen to other recorded or live-stream mindfulness sessions. Meditation apps like Headspace can also help you stay centered.
Change your Thinking
You can’t (for the most part) change external circumstances, yet you can change your perception and attitude. Rehashing everything that is going wrong in your life can be unproductive at best and downright depressing at worst. Instead, alleviate negativity and worry by seeking to reframe your situation and focusing on what you are grateful for. Although there are plenty of downsides to living during a pandemic, there are a few upsides—for instance, the drastic reduction in industrial activities has made for a much cleaner environment. Check out the videos and resources housed on PTSD Coach Online if you want some assistance changing negative thinking patterns or dealing with anxiety.
Get Emotional Support
If you need a little more help to stay emotionally grounded while you shelter in place, consider
online support groups or telephone/virtual counseling. Check out 7 Cups, an app and online resource that can hook you with a trained volunteer listener for free or with a licensed mental health professional for a fee. If you are in crisis, another resource is the Disaster Distress Helpline. You can call 1-800-985-5990 at any time of the day or night.
Finally, check out our recent blog post for more ways to stay happy and healthy while self-isolating. While seclusion may not be your first choice, it certainly doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience.