Have you checked in on your mental health lately?
Now that Covid19 has made itself welcome into most of our cities, it has altered anything that has got in its way. It has cleared the streets, closed down retail shops, sports games and also broken up coffee dates, first dates, dinner with grandma and so much more.
So while we’re told to ‘sit on the couch, to not touch our face, to continue washing our hands and practice social distancing’ just to do our bit, what a lot of us have not realized is that ‘just doing our bit’ can be a lot more mentally challenging than initially anticipated.
Let’s chat about what quarantine (just sit on the couch) means?
Generally speaking, self-quarantine (in current times) is strict isolation imposed to prevent the spread of the disease. It is the separation of a person or group of people to prevent exposure or the possible spread of communicable disease.
Now that the horrendous event in Italy has taken place, many countries are creating regulations to ‘flatten the curve’ so that they can prevent Italy’s catastrophe. Currently, this entails a 14-day self-quarantine that further requests that if living with someone, we ‘stop sharing towels and utensils in the house’ also ‘no visitors’ and to remain at home at all times 6 ft. away from household members, unless it’s essential.
What can this type of quarantine do to our mental health?
According to studies, science shows us that anxiety and isolation create a physical toll on the brain’s circuitry. In fact, it can increase our vulnerability to disease, by triggering higher blood pressure, heart rates, stress hormones, and chronic inflammation. Prolonged ‘loneliness’ can even increase mortality.
So what is loneliness?
From a scientific perspective, loneliness is a biological warning sign to seek out other humans, just like what hunger is that encourages a person to eat food. It’s primal to seek out these types of essentials in order for us to survive.
So, during the coronavirus pandemic loneliness may be on the rise for those who are cooped up ‘on the couch’ with no one to share the experience with. And there are limited ways to relieve this feeling.
And what can you do to prevent the ‘loneliness’ from getting worse?
Change your attitude
As challenging as life may be right now unless you pivot your mindset then, unfortunately, your environment will start to feel more restrictive. Use this time as an opportunity to refocus your attention from the external to the internal.
Try this: Do one productive thing per day, set goals to finish long-avoided tasks, reorganize your space, or create a happy and healthy environment that makes you feel good to be in.
Working from home could tempt you into falling into a ‘lazy’ kind of lifestyle, which leads to negative thinking. Adhering to a normal routine allows us to foster habits that match our goals and aspirations. While routine helps us develop good habits, it helps eradicate the bad.
Try this: Eliminate the urge to stay up late. Set your alarm for the usual time, and stick with your morning routine. Shower, eat what you normally would, make the bed, or do the dishes. etc. Go as far as changing out of your pj’s so when you start doing work, you’re in the ‘zone’. And if laundry day is on Sunday, keep that going!
Start a new quarantine ritual
Spending time on an activity that you love can improve your mental health and wellbeing. Studies show that people with hobbies are less likely to suffer from stress, low mood, and depression.
Try this: Start a daily journal, or start painting. Connect with family on FaceTime, or start cooking new recipes. This is such a great time to pick up a hobby or skill that you’ve always thought about but never done because you didn’t have ‘enough time’.
Treat your body right
Professionals have discovered that our ‘guts and brains’ are certainly connected. The way we feed our bodies will determine our mental health. Two ways in which we can positively impact our guts is by eating right and exercising well. Eating the right foods feeds the good bacteria to help fight off inflammation, and exercise releases endorphins to keep us happy.
Try this: Organise delivery groceries a week ahead to avoid last-minute takeout. Focus on nutrient-dense vegetables, fruits, and grass-fed meats. Nuts (nut butter for those with chronic issues), seeds (or ground) and dried fruits are great non-perishable snacks. As for exercise, get moving for at least 15-20 minutes per day. Download an app, or find a YouTube work-out and get that butt moving!
Sunlight and being around nature/trees will benefit and uplift your mood. Quarantine might give you more time to enjoy meditative activities than usual, so it’s important to utilize this time wisely. Spending time outdoors can be quite therapeutic and because it has such a positive effect on mood, it is actually a prescribed treatment for depression.
Try this: Try to go outside around the same time each day, so it becomes a routine. Sit on a park bench and reflect, or take the dog for a walk. Encourage yourself to appreciate moments outside to break away from any mental burdens.
Your mental health during this time is integral to the longevity of your overall wellbeing. Without integrating wholesome practices that make you feel good, then you’ll be neglecting your body of everything that it needs to help conquer this unpredictable time! Stay safe and look out for each other.