Staying home under coronavirus lockdown brings challenges for all of us all, here are a few tips that may help to maintain a healthy mind during this forced isolation.
- Wake up, shower and get dressed
This seems like the simplest suggestion, but it’s often the first thing to go out the window when you’ve got nowhere to go and no one to visit. It may seem pointless to get dressed and showered when you’ve got no plans, but your hair will feel greasy and you’ll feel dirty and smelly by the end of the day. Challenging yourself to take a shower, even when you don’t feel like it, will help to wake up your mind and get you moving. Getting dressed, even if it’s into a tracksuit will help you feel more human and more like yourself again.
- Create a simple routine to stick to.
Go to bed and wake up at a reasonable hour.
Make the bed, open the curtains, blinds and windows.
Set aside quiet time to think, meditate or pray
Set aside time for 3 regular meals a day.
Remember to include time to contact friends
- Get your daily dose of fresh air
Open the windows, let in lots of natural light. Go outside, if possible and enjoy the sunlight and breathe in the fresh air. Play with your pets. Pets, such as dogs, cats, birds and many others are wonderful company and are usuallyalways ready to play – it’s good for your physical and mental health.
- Eat healthy food
Make sure you’re getting your 5 plus a day of fruit and vegetables to stay healthy. Avoid unnecessary snacking which is easy to do when you’re at home. Keep your eating habits as close as possible to what you would usually do.
Put aside time once a day for the specific purpose of exercise, There are plenty of ways to exercise at home, try a yoga or exercise video on YouTube or do some energetic cleaning to get your heart rate up – scrubbing and spring cleaning or cleaning out cupboards definitely count as exercise, and you’ll feel so accomplished and appreciated by your family.
- Stay in touch with friends and family
Reach out to others. Try to do FaceTime, Skype, phone calls, texting. Connect with family and friends. Don’t forget the elderly members of your family and friend circles. Remember to do this for your children as well. Set up virtual playdates with friends daily via FaceTime, Facebook Messenger Kids, Zoom, etc—your kids miss their friends, too!
Put your free time to good use by helping out those in the community who need it most. Look up local aid groups to see if you can take supplies to someone who is elderly and can’t leave the house. You may be able to cook meals for the underprivileged or the elderly or deliver supplies, make masks or maybe even help in some other way.
Why not learn a new skill. You could learn to knit, grow tomatoes or speak sign language. You could try your hand at painting, podcasting or making stop motion films. You could use the time to perfect your carbonara recipe, master the art of photography, scrapbooking or even colouring in. Think of a few things you could do that would make you feel accomplished, like studying for an hour, cooking a healthy meal or doing a workout video.
- Have fun
If you’ve suddenly found yourself with time on your hands, remember to do something you enjoy. Watch a movie, do some puzzles, play some board games, write that novel, read, redecorate, play charades, do anything else that will put a smile on your face. It doesn’t have to be ‘productive’; give yourself permission to have a go, and just have fun.
- Meditate and pray
Meditation and prayer are proven to have many mental and physical benefits. They are both free to do and will improve your health and help you stay calm and centred.
- Limit social media and COVID conversation, especially around children.
There is so much information on COVID-19 to consume, and it changes minute to minute. The information is often sensationalized, negatively skewed, and alarmist. Find a few trusted sources that you can check in with consistently, limit it to a few times a day, and set a time limit for yourself on how much you consume (30 minutes tops, 2-3 times daily). Keep news and alarming conversations out of earshot from children—they see and hear everything and can become very frightened by what they hear.
- Try to be gentle on yourself
Being gentle with ourselves means giving ourselves permission not to be the best that’s humanly possible, but rather to do the best we can right now. Being gentle with ourselves every day means giving ourselves credit for what we’ve already accomplished, not getting stuck in the “woulda, coulda, shouldas,” and giving ourselves a path of hope for everything that is yet to come. “Taking care of ourselves” is when we take the time to reconnect with our inner being, replace our fears with trust, and learn to let go of the things we cannot control.
- Start a “Gratitude Journal”
Write down the things for which you feel grateful. Notice the good in the world and write about it. This little activity will help you to gain a new perspective of what is important to you and what you truly appreciate in your life. You will notice that by noting what you are grateful for, you will gain clarity on what you want to have more of in your life, and what you can cut from your life. It helps you to focus on what really matters.
- Find something you can control and take control of it.
In moments of big uncertainty and overwhelm, control your little corner of the world. Organize your bookshelf, purge your closet, put together that furniture, group your toys. It helps to anchor and ground us when the bigger things are chaotic.
- Seek medical attention if needed
If you feel unwell and need to see a doctor or you suspect you have COVID-19, then phone your GP to make an appointment.
With thanks to our Clinical Psychologist, Mary Rogers for the contribution.