Top 10 Mental Health Tips During Quarantine
So… How can I maintain my mental health and well-being?
This is such an important question to address. I believe that, during a time where everything is so out of our control, it is essential to take control of our mental health. That being said, keep reading for our top 10 mental health tips to stay sane and happy.
The past few months all we hear and talk about is the spread of the coronavirus. Our minds are consumed by its impact around the world, on our health, education, employment, family and friends. There isn’t one day where we don’t hear about the negative effects it has on our lives. Not a day where we aren’t reminded how our lives will change drastically after its passage.
Every day we are inundated by guidelines on how to keep ourselves virus-free. One of the main ones on the list is to maintain social distancing. As a result, a lot of mental and emotional challenges have surfaced. Challenges that should not be ignored and need to be addressed.
Let’s jump into it – our top 10 mental health tips are:
1. Create a routine
Having a routine will make you feel more grounded, it will enable you to get some stability in this situation. So, you should make a list of all the things you want to achieve each day. Try to make realistic to-do lists and break them up throughout the day. There is no perfect way of doing it. Some prefer writing down what they want to do throughout the day, others like to write a daily to-do list. You have to do what works for you. As a result, you will feel more productive and it will give your life a sense of normality.
2. Limit your internet news and/or social media exposure
There is a lot of evidence that news, and social media can lead to increased levels of anxiety and depression. It is important to take a break from them, as they can have a negative impact on your mental health. Instead, you could check them on a less regular basis, or even ask a friend to keep you updated. When it comes to social media, avoid comparing your situation with online people. What you see is never a perfect representation of what is actually happening. This can be a trigger to your mental health. Focus on yourself. You will be a lot happier than focusing on how lucky Suzette is during this quarantine. These are just assumptions, you don’t know how real it all is.
3. Stay in touch with your loved ones
Social distancing does not equate emotional distancing, so use technology and stay in touch with your loved ones. Privilege video chat over simply talking or texting. Studies have demonstrated that face-to-face interactions are more likely to decrease levels of anxiety and depression than the alternatives. So, pick up your phone and call the people who make you happy. Spend quality time with your girlfriend or boyfriend. You may not be physically together, but you can try your best to feel as connected as you can. You will need to feel their love and attention. They will also give you a sense of normality and stability.
4. Try to be grateful for what you have
I am well aware that it is easier said than done, however, I need you to understand how the smallest amount of gratitude can go a very long way for your mental health. One thing that I truly believe is that the more we practice gratitude, the more there will be things to be grateful for. In fact, when we think about what we are grateful for, we realise how even the simplest things can be something to be grateful for. Since the beginning of this situation, I made a deal with myself. I decided to start every day by thinking about 3 things that I am grateful for. I also decided to bring this exercise into my ‘normal’ life too. You can be grateful for very simple things like having a roof over your head, sleeping in a nice bed, and food on your plates. Trust me, try gratitude.
5. Make your bed and get dressed
It is amazing how the smallest things can have such an impact on our mental health. Making your bed will give you some sense of pride and accomplishment. If you follow my first tip, and created a routine for your days, then making your bed will be the first task of the day that you would have achieved. It will set you up for achieving another small task, and another.
Finally, try to get dressed every day, no matter what. In fact, showering and putting clean clothes on can make us feel more put-together and ready to take on the day ahead, as well as enhancing our feeling of cleanliness. If you want to be productive, motivated and increase your overall mood, you have to get dressed. As a matter of fact, bright colours are even better for your mood. Yes, you can still wear your comfiest clothes, just make sure you do not stay in PJs all day, every day. You are allowed lazy days though, days where you just stay in PJs all day, just make sure you do not do that every single day.
6. Lower your expectations and practice radical self-acceptance
Firstly, you should not start expecting this time to be the time where you are the most productive. Expect to have problems focusing and low motivation. You need to go easy on yourself. Therefore, you need to remind yourself that this situation is unusual. We have no roadmap on how to do this. There is no doing it right or doing it wrong and you cannot fail. We are all doing our best in such an uncontrollable and unusual situation. Above everything, you need to lower your expectations for what you accomplish.
One very good way to do so is to practice radical self-acceptance. This means that you need to accept everything about yourself and your life without any questions or blames. You need to accept your situation and accept that you have no choice in what is currently happening. I always tell people not to fight their feelings and emotions. This is because, when you attempt to resist something you just end up adding more suffering to your pain. Suffering is an option, pain is not. It is all about not adding suffering to our pain, it is about accepting our circumstances instead of thinking “this isn’t fair” or “it can’t be happening”.
My advice to you, when you catch yourself having those negative thoughts, is to first, take a deep breath and tell yourself: “it is what it is. It will be over eventually”, “there is nothing I can do about this situation, I can, however, stay home and stay safe”, “I don’t have a choice but to stay in quarantine, at least if I do that I will be safe and eventually life will go back to normal”. Now, it is not an easy skill, and you will require practice to use it properly, but it is a fantastic skill to learn. I will write another post about radical self-acceptance where you can read about it in more detail. But, in the meantime, practice your radical self-acceptance using the few tips I gave you; your mind will thank you.
7. Be a control freak about what you can control
This situation is out of our control, and this is one of the factors that really make it harder for our mental health. It is very difficult not to have a say in our daily life. You need to find a little control somewhere in your world. For me, this blog is one of those things I can control, thus I spend hours and hours working on it. There are so many things out there that you can control the heck out of, such as cleaning your room, organising your bookshelf, planning future trips and itinerary, learning a new language, read a book, binge watch a series, the list can go on and on… you just need to find your thing. It will help you feel anchored in a world that seems to be so unstable.
8. Drown yourself with humour and positivity
Okay, don’t do it literally, but you know, humour can go a very long way in terms of mental health. Yes, there is a lot to worry about out there, but it does not mean that you are not allowed to still have happy moments, moments of laughter, and just positivity in your life. So, counterbalance that weight of how terrible the situation is with something funny, something that will put you in a good mood or even just make you laugh. Watch those silly videos online, make that bad joke and just be as light as you can be.
9. Remind yourself that this is only temporary and challenge your negative thoughts
I know it seems like this will never end and that it is quite scary to think of what is ahead. Yet, you need to remind yourself that everything is temporary, and eventually it will go back to ‘normal’. You will be able to go clubbing, hug your friends, go shopping, go to the beach, you will be able to do most, if not all, of these things again. We will all return to feeling free and safe. Nevertheless, if you start having self-defeating, negative thoughts, and feeling like it will never end then you need to challenge them. Let me share with you one of the ways you can challenge your thoughts. First, write them down. This is very important, so I recommend you do it. Second, ask yourself very simple questions such as:
- Am I assuming the worst will happen?
- What is the effect of thinking the way I do?
- Am I asking questions that have no answers?
- Am I expecting myself to be perfect?
Here are only a few questions that can help you in challenging your negative thoughts, but I will soon write a more in-depth post including a greater list of questions. Finally, after answering those questions, try to come up with more realistic and positive thoughts. It takes some practice, but you can do it, and it will benefit you for the rest of your life.
10. Maintain a good sleep and physical hygiene
I am guilty of staying up very late, or very early, depending on how you like to see it, and waking up quite late. It is so easy to do that, we have nothing better to do, so why not, right? Recently, however, I have tried to set up some kind of routine around my sleep and wake times. In fact, it is quite important for your well-being to get enough sleep and to spend as little wake time in your bed as possible. Get up, do something and definitely do not work on your bed.
Finally, another important factor when it comes to your mental health is exercising. Physical exercise influences mental health incredibly as it is linked with reduced levels of anxiety, depression, and negative mood altogether. As a matter of fact, there is a very simple scientific explanation behind it, and it is because exercise releases hormones such as endorphin and serotonin (our so-called happiness hormones). Also, exercising will help you get your sleep patterns back to normal, so the latter can help you with my first point about having good sleep hygiene too.
Leaving Notes & Things to Remember:
Before you close this article, I just want to leave with you a couple of small points that I think are quite important too.
- You are strong and that this is just another challenge in your life, another challenge that you will overcome too.
- Limit your thinking to today. Try not to think about what will happen at the end of the week, next month or years. Just focus on today.
- You are allowed to be sad and have days where you just do not want to get out of bed. Don’t beat yourself up because you are having a bad day. Allow yourself to have a bad day, and work to make tomorrow better.
I really hope that this article will have been of some use for you. There are many more ways of managing your mental health and well-being, but I focused on the top 10 tips that I personally consider to be important in a quarantine situation. Remember that you can always reach out to us if you need to talk to someone, we will always try our best to reply to you.
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