With the COVID-19 pandemic causing disruption of our normal lives, we have to figure out how to do our best in these circumstances despite all the uncertainty for our future. Staying healthy isn’t just about not having the virus. It’s also about taking care of yourself physically and mentally. Here are some ideas of how to live well while physically distancing at home.
First, limit the amount of time reading about the news. It’s important to stay informed, but spending too much time reading the news will just end up making you feel more anxious about things you can’t control anyway and take up time that you could use being productive. This doesn’t mean that you’re supposed to be happy and productive at all times. It’s ok to not feel great because of a variety of reasons. Allow yourself time to at least acknowledge how you’re feeling, but then also try and do other activities.
It’s helpful to have a routine and structure in your day so that you have some amount of predictability in your day to offset the uncertainty that you’re constantly bombarded with through the text messages that come in, the direction of the stock market, the COVID-19 status updates, the bad news you see, etc. Waking up around the same time and going to sleep around the same time everyday can help regulate your circadian rhythm and fight fatigue while you’re awake. Getting plenty of sleep, eating nutritious food, and moving your body everyday will keep you physically healthy. At a minimum, no matter how you’re feeling, your day should look something like this:
- Wake up in the morning and get out of bed.
- Brush teeth.
- Change out of pajamas.
- Let natural light into your home.
- Eat meals at regular times. Don’t forget to eat vegetables.
- Shower at some point.
- Go to sleep at night.
If you have the basics down, fantastic! Now, we can talk about some details on how to fill your day. If you are relatively new to working from home, try and stick to a similar schedule to what you would have normally followed before the stay-at-home order. Check out this article on setting up an ergonomic computer workstation at home. When you’re not working, stay physically active with online group exercises classes, taking a walk, moving around to music, etc.
In addition to getting your work done and staying physically active, taking care of your mental health is equally important. Tackle loneliness by staying in touch with friends and family by phone or online. Journaling about your thoughts can be very helpful in giving you a better sense of what’s going on in your life. Keeping a gratitude journal can also help with mood. Consider volunteering to help those in need. Not only does volunteering help those you serve, it also can help boost your sense of purpose and make you feel good. Some ideas include developing online learning tools for children, helping at a food bank, donating blood at a blood bank, and donating protective equipment to hospitals. A list of some volunteer resources can be found here.
You can create a different routine for the weekend so that you have some sense of normalcy where weekends are different from weekdays. Watching certain TV shows or movies only on the weekends or eating certain kinds of food on weekends are some ideas. Doing more creative activities like art, dance, or music can be fun ways to spend the weekend.
When you’re creating new routines or habits, it may be hard to make them stick. Here is an article on creating good habits that can give you some pointers.
Meditation can be useful in calming or relaxing your mind. There are several different kinds of meditation, but a beginner-friendly meditation to try is this New York Times 10-step meditation with nature sounds and wind chimes. There are also many different meditation apps online; some of the most popular include Insight Timer, Calm, and Headspace.
A comprehensive online resource designed specifically for coronavirus-related anxiety and mental health tools can be found here. It covers questions answered by mental health professionals, tips on dealing with a variety of issues related to this time, videos of nature sounds, music, cute animals, yoga, and free meditation audio.
Everybody’s normal life has been affected with this pandemic, and we’re all coping in our own ways. Hopefully some of the resources here can help you during this time. While there is a lot of uncertainty for the future, focusing on living your life as best you can right now will give you the tools you need to handle whatever comes your way.