We are living in unprecedented times. Globally, this is the “perfect storm” to financially cripple, or at least dramatically affect, all of us in some way. Is your industry sustainable during a long-term shutdown? Could you lose your job, your small business? What can you do about your retirement savings shriveling away? Add to that the unknown qualities of this novel coronavirus – will it infect me or my loved ones? How soon will we contain it? Will I have access to testing? When will there be a vaccine available?
The questions are endless. The answers are minimal. No one has a crystal ball. As more countries are on various forms of lockdown, shutdown, border closings, mandated quarantines, this hits our natural human psyche; HARD. Fear of the unknown.
We cannot change our government mandates. But we can change our behavior to help halt the spread of it. Unless you are living in a nuclear fallout bunker (Is that where all the toilet paper went?!), you have read all the suggestions from hand washing to social distancing, staying at home, etc. But what about your mental health?
But for many people, the social distancing and the lockdowns are nearly as stressful as the fear of financial distress and health concerns this pandemic event is causing. Please remember, social distancing does not mean social isolation. Here are a few suggestions to ease the mental strain of a quarantine.
Take Breaks from Social Media, News Sources
It is imperative to stay informed since new sanctions continue to go into place daily around the world. However social media is a hotbed for misinformation, rumors, and scare tactics from foreign interference. Carefully read or watch news from credible sources. Not those with political messaging and conspiracy theory undertones from the far left or the far right. Do not watch or read any news at least a few hours before bedtime. It will, most likely, keep you awake with concern.
Stay Socially Connected to Friends and Family
Humans are social creatures. We like to share time and space with others. Strong friendships and family ties are one of the factors for happiness indexes. Blue Zone studies have shown that socialization is one of the keys to living longer lives. For now, we just have to do it in a different way. Thankfully, we live in an electronic era. There are so many ways to stay in touch, such as Skype, Facetime, Whatsapp to name a few. Video conferencing apps can be reinvented into video parties. Have a glass (or bottle) of wine or coffee with friends online and make it a social hour. Talking about fears and survival ideas brings us together. What if Grandma doesn’t have a smartphone or a computer? Well, then old-school phone her! A voice can be just as effective as a hug these days, especially if you are alone.
Meditation has a way of calming our soul and resetting the brain. Even if you have never done so before, it is not difficult to ease into a mind trance if you have the right guide. You can find many free guided-meditation downloadable podcasts online or on YouTube. Test some out to find the right voice and message that fits. Most life coaches work online and you can also conduct sessions to calm your nerves or help you feel less isolated in these trying times. If you are religious or even believe in some sort of superior being, take some time to turn to the comfort of prayer to buoy hopes.
Get Some Sunshine and Fresh Air
Fresh air and sunshine were a key component of the healing process during the great influenza pandemic of 1918. Sunshine is our greatest source of vitamin D – helping us fight off depression, osteoporosis, and even cancer. If you are quarantined, many can still step outside for a short time for fresh air. If you can’t leave your home, go out on the porch, patio, balcony or at least open a window. Factors like fewer cars out on the roads and factory shutdowns are leaving a decreased carbon footprint, so the global air is cleaner than it has been in a long time.
Learn Something New
Why not take this extended time at home to learn something new? There are so many online courses available. From learning a foreign language to getting some sort of certification in a number of industries. Perhaps try your hand at a new form of art or self-expression? How about an online degree? No, it won’t be completed over the course of a 2-week or even a several month quarantine. But you can start. That new degree could certainly help you in a different career in the “new world order” we will witness after the fallout.
Catch up on Reading or Binge Watching
Do you have a list of movies or series you have been wanting to watch? Now is a great time to binge-watch. My guess is, you are probably doing so already. I would suggest watching something uplifting or humorous, not the zombie apocalypse genre. We all need a little comic relief at a time like this. Same with your reading. It is a wonderful form of escapism – stretching our imagination and transporting us to a different place.
Physical activity keeps increased endorphins pumping through our bodies throughout the day. Not only does it contribute to happiness and higher energy levels, but it is also good for muscles and bones, weight loss, and better sleep patterns. If you are concerned about or not able to go to the gym, don’t stress. If you are able to freely walk outside (with social distancing), you can go for a jog or even climb stairs if you live in a condo tower. Otherwise, there are all sorts of online workouts that are free on YouTube. Just clear some space and pump some iron or dance in your living room. Even if you don’t have weights, you can find workouts utilizing your own body weight for resistance.
Check-in on the Most Vulnerable
I have found that helping those less fortunate has a unique way of making us feel better too. Do you have an elderly neighbor who lives alone? Or someone symptomless but mandated to stay quarantined? Now is a great time to check on them. Perhaps pick up a prescription for them or drop off some groceries.
Bury the Hatchet
Remember that friend or family member you still love but you got sideways with a couple of years ago because of an argument over <insert something stupid>? Now is an excellent time to reflect and forgive. When you feel the world is caving in, it is normal to feel sentimental. Perhaps wanting to make things right before it could be too late. Reach out, send a note, give them a call. Chances are they are feeling the same way right about now. #BeKind
We’re all in this together.