Staying Sane While Staying In – Mental health in the age of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)

By now, all our lives are being impacted in some way by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). There is so much information out there on how people are infected, how to wash your hands, and avoiding social interaction. We all want to be responsible in stopping the spread of the disease, so we are staying in, doing less, and avoiding public places. But that leaves us all home, cooped within four small walls – with our roommates, partners, small children – who are all going to get more than a little restless before this is over. So below are some thoughts on how to keep yourself mentally healthy while staying in.

First – let’s limit the barrage of information. Stick with fact and data driven sites such as the CDC, WHO, and Georgia’s Department of Health. They will provide the recommendations and updated case numbers, so that you can keep yourself informed. Even with fact-driven sites, limit the number of times you take in information each day. If you’re refreshing your browser every 5 minutes, you’re searching too much. Try to steer away from social media, and remember, panic sells, and no one is going to post their boring story of staying home binging Netflix.

Second – healthy body, healthy mind. This is the time to try out new healthy recipes (the grocery stores may be out of toilet paper, but I bet they still have kale). Plan at-home fancy meals as a healthy coping project and an event to look forward to. Experiment and try things you would not normally have the time for in the kitchen. And even though the gym is closed, find some at-home work out challenges. There is plenty you can do in your living room with just your body weight that will get your pulse up and burn off some of that adrenaline. You can also go outside and take a walk around the neighborhood. After your cuisine experimentation and sets of burpees in your pajamas, head to bed for a good night’s sleep. Try to keep a regular sleep schedule; remember, sleep deprivation will likely increase symptoms of anxiety and fear – and let’s face it, we are all tense enough.

Third – have a little fun. We all are likely to have a bit more downtime, and before all this extra free space is used just passively watching videos – lets work on that bucket list. We all have something we would do if we just had more time – and now we have it in droves.  You always wanted to learn music? Let’s get a tutorial. Start painting; online retailers still have those supplies. Take the kids on a nature treasure hunt and ask ‘how many four-leaf clovers can you find?’ (that’ll keep’em busy for at least 60 seconds). Start a family board game tournament, make up silly prizes. Here’s a list to keep you busy:

  •   Go through all your photo galleries, go back years (they are all on the cloud) and laugh. Start a memory book of favorite pictures of the year.
  •   Make some sweet-smelling gingerbread cookies, s’mores, Rice Krispy treats. Make chocolate fondue, homemade sushi, homemade soup, your childhood favorite comfort food.
  •   Construct a blanket and pillow fort in the middle of your living room.
  •   Go outside and play. Fly a kite. Plant seeds. Attempt a cartwheel. Blow bubbles. Toss a frisbee. Take a hike, up a mountain or in your backyard; collect treasures, take pictures.
  •   Drive around and snap photos of picturesque places in your town.
  •   Write bad poetry on your front porch.
  •   Watch ‪Saturday morning cartoons while eating your favorite childhood cereal.
  •   Play “the floor is hot lava”.
  •   Sign up for an online introductory tutorial in a craft you’ve always been interested in – photography, basket weaving, knitting, crochet, etc.
  •   Watch online yoga videos, follow along.
  •   Rearrange the furniture in your bedroom or living room. Paint your bathroom, bedroom, or kitchen a new color. Light every single candle in your house. String twinkly lights along your fence or bedroom window.
  •   Color, with crayons. Assemble a jig saw puzzle. Put together a model car.
  •   Read through your old yearbook.
  •   Set up a hammock and use it.

And remember: “This too will pass. It may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.”

One thought on “Staying Sane While Staying In – Mental health in the age of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)”

  1. Izzy says:

    Very good! Fun tips that I will be sure to use 🙂

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