How Do We Stay Physically and Mentally Healthy in Lockdown?
When the COVID-19 virus emerged in early 2020, we never imagined that almost a year later we would live in a masked, socially distant world. The changes in our lives – working from home and schooling, unemployment, limited contact with family and friends – have been challenging for many of us.
Today, breakthrough vaccines offer hope for a return to ‘normal’. But continued increases in positive COVID-19 cases confirm the need to continue to stay at home to reduce the spread. There is no doubt that while quarantine reduces the risk of the virus spreading, it can be difficult for our mental health. Whether you’re at home as part of a local or nationwide effort, quarantine after exposure to someone who has been exposed to the virus – or choose to avoid people, potential exposure, and spreading the virus yourself – these tips can help you take better care of yourself. Here are these tips;
Stick to a routine
For millions of people, quarantine means working and going to school from home. The need to Zoom client meetings, run your fifth grader by dividing fractions, and ignore all-day access to “Law & Order” reruns can make maintaining a routine out of reach.
When so much is out of our control, maintaining a routine helps you manage anxiety and feel more in control. Routine also helps reduce “decision fatigue” and the overwhelming feeling of having too many options.
While your pre-pandemic routine, such as going to work or school, is a thing of the past, you can create a new – more flexible – routine. Try to maintain regular schedules for working, studying, resting, eating and sleeping. Identify specific workspaces as best you can to help you focus when you need it and relax when you don’t.
Take care of your body
Eating nutritious foods, getting regular exercise, and getting plenty of sleep will not only help you stay physically healthy, but also strengthen your mental health. While a constant Netflix diet and baking chips and cookies may seem like good medicine if you feel bad, they can make you feel worse in the long run if you don’t limit them to one special treat.
Make sure you’re getting healthy, daily doses of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seafood, and lean proteins. Also, incorporate physical activity into each day to get together for a quick walk outside or take advantage of the thousands of exercise options available online.
Connect with others
The pandemic may be physically separating us from our family and friends, but technology can help bridge that gap. Make a list of family, friends, and colleagues you can connect with. Scroll through the list with a daily phone call, text, video chat, or even an old-fashioned handwriting to someone. In this way, you will maintain your relationships, receive support and offer support.
Take a break from the news
24/7 access to news can be addictive when you’re isolated. It’s important to stay informed, but you need to find the sweet spot of being up to date on what you need to know without feeling overwhelmed. Limit your time to 20 minutes once or twice a day. Follow trusted news sources and gather advice and information from national and local health and government officials.
Mindfulness is focusing on the present moment. This means ignoring the pull to worry about the “what-if” in the future or groping yourself about the “why-I-didn’t” of the past. Meditation, yoga and prayer, and even taking time to focus on a single breath can help reduce stress and stop unproductive thoughts.
Be kind to yourself
Some days you may experience feelings of failure. When that happens, give yourself a break. Perfection is unrealistic, especially during a pandemic. Remember, you are not alone. Millions of people from all over the world – just like you – are trying to make the most of a difficult situation. There’s no use getting angry with yourself. In fact, the best way to wake up might be some dancing and even ice cream for lunch.
Ask for help when you need it
By now we all know how difficult it can be to quarantine. Despite your best efforts, you may feel overwhelmed. The Centers for Disease Control says you may need help if you see these common danger signals:
Changes in sleeping or eating patterns
Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
Fear and anxiety about your own health and the health of loved ones, your finances, or the loss of your job or support services you trust.
Increased use of tobacco or alcohol and other substances
Worsening of chronic health problems
Worsening of mental health conditions
Remember, the vaccine for this disease has been found
And the world is quickly returning to normal. Be a little more patient, we’ll be back in our lives very soon.