With many areas of the country on lockdown as the COVID-19 pandemic enters 2021, growing attention has been focused on the mental health struggles that can result from spending so much time at home. Maintaining mental health at any time is important for coping with stress. It’s also key for working productively, and preserving our emotional and psychological wellness. Now, preserving our mental health during ongoing lockdowns presents a new set of skills to learn. Below is a list of remedies that can help you maintain your mental health during your time spent at home. If you are feeling very overwhelmed, you can immediately seek help by checking the resources available from the National Institute of Mental Health.
Focus on personal growth and learn something new.
For many with no commutes, activities, or social engagements in the community, living at home during lockdown has afforded a substantial amount of extra time each day. Unfortunately, it’s easy to slip into time-wasting habits or listlessness due to boredom. Instead, try refocusing your time and energy into learning something new. With endless resources online, it’s the perfect time to take up a new skill. Take up knitting, cook new recipes, or even learn a new language. There’s not just cognitive health benefits that result when your brain is learning something new. Setting milestones of achievement and reflecting on your growth is also a great way to boost your morale and mood.
Create events and things to look forward to.
One of the most common complaints about living at home through a lockdown is the constant monotony. Without social events like birthday parties, weddings, and other group celebrations, the day-in and day-out routine can become tedious. One great way to brighten your mood is to plan and create COVID-19-safe events and activities to look forward to. Depending on what you’re missing most, you can put some energy into planning an event. Think: an online trivia night, a fancy dinner over Zoom, or an outdoor picnic with your immediate household. The excitement of planning an event and the anticipation of a fun activity to break up your day-to-day schedule. This lifts your mood and help you feel like your regular, social self.
Make sure you’re getting fresh air.
With many people relying on delivery for food and essential items, it’s possible to go days without going outside. Aside from the change of scenery, getting fresh air has a myriad of benefits. Some of these include lowering your heart rate and blood pressure, improving your digestion, speeding up your body’s natural recovery from injuries and illnesses, clearing your lungs, and improving your mental focus. Even just taking short walks around your neighborhood to break up your day are beneficial. These can have an immense impact on your overall mental and physical health. If you’re unable to get outside, make sure to spend some time by an open window. This will help to calm your mind while you enjoy the other benefits of fresh air.
Care for and support others.
When we’re feeling less than our best, it might not be our first instinct to put energy into helping others. However, caring for other people is an amazing way to build relationships, self-esteem, and foster a feeling of connection with society. If you can’t think of someone you know personally that might need help, reach out to your immediate neighbors or an online community group. Something as simple as picking up groceries for a senior or using your car to run an errand for someone without a vehicle can have an immense impact on the person you’re helping out. Concentrating on the needs of others is a great way to get out of your own head. It helps you refocus your mind to an optimistic state of being.
Spend time taking care of your home.
Cleaning, organizing, and home maintenance might not sound like the most exciting activity. However, changing your external environment can have surprisingly impactful benefits for your interior thoughts and feelings. Since everyone is spending so much time at home during times of lockdown, why not make that space as enjoyable as possible? If the thought of cleaning and home maintenance feels daunting, start small. Try focusing on one small task at a time. There could be one small cupboard that can be cleaned and organized, or a quick project of hiding your TV cables that you’ve just never got around to tackling. Once you begin this process, you’ll see positive changes in your surroundings. Then, you’ll have not only a sense of accomplishment, but a calmer mind with your clean and organized environment.
Don’t get sucked into the news.
With many urgent events happening in the world today, the need to feel up to date on the latest news is understandable. However, there are negative impacts of constantly tuning in to the news and social media. These can include worsening anxiety, constant stress, and other negative psychological effects. Instead of following the continuous stream of news, try checking in less. It’s quite reasonable to stay current on important matters by looking at the news once per day, or even less. If you schedule a time with yourself to do this and leave the 24/7 news cycle behind, you’ll maintain a much more positive mindset and avoid the damaging impacts of a constant barrage of news.
Stay socially connected.
Balancing changes to work, home life, and normal schedules can be exhausting. Without the possibility of meeting up in person it’s easy to see how social interactions can be less of a priority. Despite the lack of group events and activities that are possible during lockdown, it’s important to maintain your social connections and relationships which can offer a major boost to your mental health. One surprising benefit of switching social interactions to an online format means that you can refocus your energy to people who provide you with positive, uplifting, and supportive communications, and you’re under less obligation to keep in contact with those who drain your mental energy or may cause you stress.