Author: Brynn Novotny
Living in a time where almost all of the focus is directed towards physical health, it shouldn’t be a shock that mental health would become neglected as a result. Social distancing has disrupted our precious daily routines and plunged us into a new normal seemingly overnight. Feelings such as the sensation of losing control and the loneliness of being isolated from the rest of the world can lead to symptoms of depression and/or a stress-related disorder. Because quarantine affects both those who have shown signs of the aforementioned terms in the past and those who haven’t, it’s important for ALL of us to prioritize our mental health even if it doesn’t seem like the most pressing matter at the moment. To help with that, here’s a list of a few precautionary steps you can take to protect it.
- Construct a new daily routine – Even if you’re someone who wasn’t previously a huge fan of a structured lifestyle, quarantining may still have you feeling like the control you had over your life is gone. On the other hand, those who lived off of a repetitive schedule are definitely feeling the effects. Being thrown into unexpectedly new circumstances such as these, however, aren’t enough to prevent you from sculpting a new routine and gaining a sense of control back. Start by trying to wake up around the same time every day. From there, your new schedule depends on the responsibilities you have now. Do you still have school or work? Sculpt your day into one where you spend around the same time addressing these tasks as you would have before. While the schedule you create will be an evolved version of the original, its existence alone can help ease the sensation of being lost you might have developed.
- Find a way to stay active – It’s always been a good idea to exercise, even before quarantine struck. With limited options after the lack of outlets such as sports or gyms, physical fitness may seem as unachievable and/or unnecessary as ever. The benefits of an exercise routine, however, might change your mind if you’re on the fence. Sure, changes in your appearance may be present, but you’ll also feel better, physically AND mentally. This is also a healthier option to choose when finding ways to combat boredom, and the sense of accomplishment after finishing a workout can’t be beaten. Some popular at-home options are exercise videos, online workouts, and fitness apps.
- Stay in touch – Social distancing isn’t a phrase that’s easily misunderstood. It means avoiding our favorite events solely due to the number of people there. It means missing out on the daily pleasantries we exchange with everyday faces at school and work. It means seeing less and less of our family and friends who we care so deeply about. When it’s impossible to do these things in person, let’s find a way to improvise in an era where technology can instantly connect you to almost anyone. Use FaceTime or a similar app to see and talk to whomever you’d like or simply text/call them. Reach out through social media to certain people or join a group of like-minded individuals to regain a sense of connectedness. Humans are naturally social creatures, and we don’t have to give up that element of who we are.
There is an abundance of resources out there going into even more detail on how to maintain your mental health, and I invite you to explore them if you’re ever feeling lost. Though many office locations have been closed down, many mental health service providers are still practicing through telehealth methods. No matter what the world is going through, prioritizing yourself remains a necessity. We’re all discovering how we can do that for ourselves, so let’s remember that, even during a period of social distancing, we’re still not alone.