How to Maintain Good Mental Health While Being Indoors
To slow the spread of the coronavirus, people around the world are being asked to stay home and minimize contact with the outside world. But as social distancing disrupts normal social support structures, feelings of boredom and isolation can exacerbate stress and other mental health issues.
So, how do we stay sane while being cooped up indoors? Here are a few helpful tips to keep your mind, body, and spirit feeling healthy, refreshed, and motivated.
1. Create New Routines
Establish a schedule for you and your family. To feel a sense of control, people need structure and things to anticipate. If you are working from home, continue to wake up at your normal time, like you are heading into the office. It’s tempting to remain in your pajamas all day, but taking a shower and dressing affects how we feel. Scheduling lunch breaks and coffee breaks like usual will also help create a sense of normalcy, as will setting aside specific times for exercise and entertainment.
If you’re working from home while also trying to keep children engaged, establishing a routine is crucial. Consider having your child follow their normal schedule at school or daycare, with specific times set aside for free time, play, and educational activities. No need to be regimented, but establishing routines will help parents and kids manage their time.
Remember to be flexible and try new things. See what works and what doesn’t. Being adaptable will allow you to make adjustments for optimal mental health.
2. Stay Active
It’s tempting to melt into the couch, but now is the perfect time to focus on hobbies and activities that bring you joy, whether it’s making art, playing music, or cooking. Consider learning a new skill you’ve always wanted to try but never had the time, whether it’s origami, sewing, or carpentry.
Consider tackling small home projects, like reorganizing books, fixing that loose floorboard, or re-potting houseplants. Doing so will give you a sense of accomplishment.
However you decide to stay active, make sure to include exercise in your routine. Studies show that exercise does wonders for your mental health and can be an effective antidepressant. Aerobic exercise is a natural stress reliever and activates your immune system, leaving you less susceptible to illness.
Feel free to make up your own exercise routine, or follow along with various exercise videos available on streaming services. And remember, exercise takes many forms, whether it’s dancing, yoga, or martial arts.
Waking up to a sink full of dirty dishes or a cluttered living room can compound a sense of overwhelming anxiety. Consider setting aside time at the end of the day for general tidying and light cleaning. Not only will it give you a sense of accomplishment, it will create a more relaxing environment for you and your family.
Be sure to include children of all ages in this routine to encourage responsibility and team building. For younger children, make a game of it if appropriate.
Also, consider re-framing your perspective of “cleaning,” especially parents or those in large households. Whereas doing the dishes used to be a chore, now look at it as some alone time while listening to your favorite music.
As we all prepare to spend an extended amount of time indoors, it’s important that we create spaces in which we feel comfortable. Cleaning will help maintain a sense of comfort and control.
4. Go Outside
If you are not exhibiting any symptoms of being sick and are not under quarantine, it’s still safe to go outside, as long as you maintain your distance from other people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend keeping six to 10 feet away from other people to help stop the spread of the virus.
Take a walk in your neighborhood or a local park, or go for a long hike in the woods. The fresh air, sunshine, and nature will do wonders for your mental health. Studies show that people, especially children, are happier and healthier when they have a connection to nature.
As temperatures warm, consider taking your exercise routine outdoors.
5. Connect With Friends and Family
Thanks to the virtual realm, there are many ways to stay social, even in this time of social distancing. Various video chat services allow you to stay connected with your friends, family, and loved ones. Consider setting up virtual coffee dates, virtual trivia nights, or virtual dinner parties.
Not only are these connections important to your own mental health, they can be an uplifting interaction for those who are struggling or feeling down.
If your video chat stream gets a little glitchy, pick up your phone. A good conversation is always a clear and effective way to maintain a solid connection to your social network.