For the past month, give or take, we have been inundated with the following: “Wash your hands!” “Cough into your elbow!” “Stay home if you’re sick!” “JUST STAY HOME!” “Stay at least 6 feet apart!” In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is necessary to follow these directives, as we do not want our physical health to take a hit. However, it is equally important that we do not allow our mental health to be affected. Humans are social creatures, and right now, we are being asked to stay at home. Staying at home and not seeing anyone is a catalyst for loneliness, and loneliness is bad for our brains.
While mental health is not your fault, it is your responsibility, so here are some tricks and tips to maintaining your mental health while maintaining your distance:
- Exercise – regular exercise releases endorphins and serotonin, which reduces stress and anxiety levels, benefiting your social well-being and brain power!
- Skype/Zoom/Facetime with friends – just because you cannot get together physically, does not mean you cannot hangout virtually!
- Get Outside – social distancing does not mean lock the doors and close the shutters. Go outside – hang out in your back yard or on your balcony. Go for a walk around the block. Fresh air provides energy, and the smell and breathing in of fresh air allows you to feel better. Plus, there is the added benefit of the vitamin D blast from the sun! The fresh air and the vitamin D both combat depressions and other mental health issues. If you are unable to get outside, open a window and breathe in! Remember: If you choose to go on a walk around the block, follow the social-distancing guidelines, and give other people who are out the required space.
- Read a book – allow your mind to escape fully into another world.
- Have some quiet time – this may seem counterproductive, when we already have to isolate. Staying at home, every day, in the evenings, on the weekends, with the same people, no matter how much we love them, can pose a problem. You may find yourself becoming irritated with the people who are constantly around, or perhaps you have become irritating to the people who are around. So, take a break. Go to an empty room and have some alone time.
- Try something new – exercising your brain is as important as exercising your body for your mental health. Challenging your brain with something new makes it stronger!
The most important thing to do is try and reduce your stress as much as possible when it comes to the COVID-19 situation. We are all living in uncertain times, and not much is in our control right now. What we can control is how we are individually dealing with the goings-on. So, remember not to only address your physical health, but your mental health as well. And when this is all over… non-huggers, be prepared to be hugged by all your hugger friends, for now I will have to hug my dog!