Let’s face it, no one is really thriving in quarantine. In this period of time, most people’s mental health is at an all-time low. What we would assume to be an introvert’s dream, is becoming a very harsh reality. The importance of mental health is paramount, and is just as, if not more important than your physical wellbeing. Being required to isolate yourself for long periods of time is not something that has a positive effect on your general mood for many reasons. It can cause stress, irritability, and even insomnia. However, there are always some approaches you can take to minimize the effects and to have a productive quarantine.
Your Current Mental State
If your mental health has not been the best entering quarantine, that doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. In fact, you can – and should – take this time to try to reflect and focus on improving yourself. Reflection and self-awareness are major keys, because you need to know whatever it is that normally brings you down in order to combat it. This article provides tips and tricks on how to survive in such circumstances.
Length of quarantine
Unfortunately, this is the thing that you have the least control over. However, it is important to acknowledge that! We don’t know how long it will be before we can sink back into our pre-quarantine routines and return to living our normal lives. What this means is, you do have to realize your life does not go on pause simply because quarantine is a thing. It is not a break from existence (even though, of course some factors are far less important right now), but you need to remember to continue treating yourself in a positive way.
Stress is a villain that many find hard to contest – and, of course, with more time to reflect comes more time to focus on the many pressures in your life. Therefore, it is very important to be well equipped with coping methods.
It is easy for stress to send you into a spiral, so cultivating a daily routine is important. Set a wake-up time and a breakfast time (maybe even plan your meal the night before) – this ensures a positive start to the day, limiting the chances that something could go wrong. If it feels like a particularly stressful day, one of the best things you can do in the morning is to simply open the curtains. Sunlight in the morning is a mass catalyst for serotonin production and could be just what you need.
In essence, mental health really is what you make of it. You have to find ways to keep your brain relaxed and faultless. Yoga and meditation are great examples of activities that are not only physically beneficial, but seriously aid in becoming more centered and focus in your mental space as well. Activities such as these are crucial, not only for those suffering with mental health issues, but everyone. Not only are they calming exercises and a good practice, they can also be used to help shape your daily routine and regularize your life in quarantine.
Always remember, there is also a physical component, particularly if you led an active life before the dark ages of quarantine. Physical health is so intricately linked to mental health. There are so many resources online (and even free daily programs) that require nothing more than 10-20 minutes of your time and a floor in order to break a sweat! Not only does exercise produce endorphins, it also will lead to a sense of achievement – something you deserve to feel at such a difficult time.
If you are a pet person, or perhaps if you live alone, adopting a foster animal could be a major benefit to your mental health. Not only will this help your daily routine with the added responsibility of having another living creature to take care of, it will also mean that you have a companion. Perhaps even training an existing pet to learn some new skills would be a fun task to take on that could be quite rewarding. Shelters during quarantine have been overwhelmed with the number of pets needing a home, so the adoption of a new pet could be beneficial for all.
Perhaps starting a journal where you take time daily to put into words the things that are bothering you – in order to see if there are solutions that you can think of – could be something that helps you track your mental health across quarantine.
Furthermore, if you are already aware of aspects of life that are triggering for your mental health, or patterns of destructive behaviour that you know you fall into when you are alone, now is the time to remain super vigilant to ensure you don’t fall prey to your own mind. Try to avoid your known triggers at all cost – and journaling might help with your awareness of these and how you deal with them as a result.
Keeping in touch
Keep in touch with friends and family – even if you find it hard to text people, arrange Zoom video call dates as you would a lunch date. Ensure that – if you feel as though you have the mental space for it – you check-in on those who you care about; shooting someone a quick message, no matter how brief, to let them know you care about how they are faring will go a long way (and they will most likely return the favour).
For sure, plan for things to do after quarantine when you can see people in-person but try not to obsess over these plans. Remember that, as nice as it is to have something to look forward to, it should not be the anchor you tie your happiness to. Maybe, now that you have some time on your hands, you can research fun and affordable activities that you – or you and friends – can do that you have never had the time to think about and plan before.
Take advantage of this time creatively! Have you had a project you have always wanted to start? Have you had a half-cooked idea you have never had the time to fully develop and explore? Now is the time. Even if it is just a book you have had on your bedside table with no time to read, why don’t you grab it now and get stuck in? This is a reminder of the fact that, whilst you have lost some things due to quarantine, there are also things that you have gained – time!
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