By Corey Lewis, CPT, CSCS
The Covid-19 Pandemic has presented the world with some huge challenges. In order to defeat this unseen enemy, we’ve all had to do things that go against the grain. Many of these forced behavior modifications are antithetical to our mental wellbeing. We’ve been forced to stay at home, isolate ourselves, stop working, and avoid the great outdoors. These are the mirror opposites of what the mental health experts advocate for your wellbeing. Faced with all of this, it’s no wonder that we’d be struggling to stay upbeat. In this article we reveal a half dozen mental-health first-aid strategies to enhance your mental fitness during a quarantine situation.
Humans thrive on routine. It gives us structure, helps us to maintain normalcy, and keeps us calm.
One of the most worrying aspects of a pandemic situation is that control over our lives is taken away and placed in the hands of the government. Maintaining a daily routine allows us to keep control over our immediate environment. Routines can be a form of first aid for mental health.
Your daily routine includes everything from when you get out of bed to what times you have your meals, do your grocery shopping, read wellness books, shower, and go to bed.
Sticking to a daily routine will also ensure that you limit your time on any one activity rather than whiling away the hours and feeling worse off for doing so.
Under “normal” conditions, we all have a tendency to veer toward negative thinking. It’s just the way we’re made. When a quarantine situation comes along, that negativity ramps up exponentially. It’s very easy to wallow in despair.
While it’s true that you cannot control the thoughts that come into your mind, you can control what you do with those thoughts. But that requires making the conscious decision to flip the script and focus on the positive side of the situation facing you.
When you find a negative thought creeping in, you should immediately challenge it. Don’t allow it to drain your energy. Accept that there are things you cannot control. Rather than fixating on those things, look for the positives in the situation. These may include the time you have to slow down, calibrate, and reconnect with yourself and your family. This is a quick strategy to
During a lockdown situation, it’s very easy for us to spend an excessive amount of time on social media. However, this time does not aid mental health. Between Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Tinder, you could quite easily chew up the bulk of your day in mindless social media exchanges.
But let’s face it—a day spent on social media is not a productive day. It’s probably going to make you feel worse. It is far better to get your social media in small, regulated doses.
There is plenty of research that shows a direct correlation between time spent on social media and diminished mental health. So, limiting your online time, or even taking a complete break from it, could be one of the smartest things you do for your mental wellbeing during a pandemic.
You already know that exercise is good “first aid” for your mental health. During a time of forced inactivity, such as quarantine, it is more important than ever. When we don’t have the freedom to move about as we normally would, we begin to feel sluggish and unmotivated. That’s why you need to get up and start moving.
Exercise will promote the release of feel-good endorphins into your bloodstream. Exercising early and outdoors will further boost these mental benefits. The ability to breathe in fresh air under natural sunlight will certainly make you feel even better.
Take the opportunity that the quarantine presents to experiment with new and different types of exercise. If you are used to doing weights only, add in a cardio workout at home, plyometrics, and calisthenics training to challenge yourself. Whatever exercise you do, keep pushing yourself to get better. Set the goal to come out of quarantine better, fitter, and stronger than you went into it. That challenge, in itself, will do wonders for your mental wellbeing.
A quarantine situation presents some very real challenges. These may be financial, social, or health-related. If you simply ignore those things, they will gnaw away at you, preventing you from finding peace. Therefore, it is far better to address the situation.
Sit down with your significant other and write down what the situation is, along with its consequences. Then draw up a list of the practical things that you can do about the situation. For instance, if you’re going to struggle to pay your mortgage, plan to get on the phone with your bank and make whatever arrangements you can to get through these tough times. Follow through on the actions required as soon as possible (don’t procrastinate). Then, knowing that you have done everything you can, consciously put the situation in a mental box and leave it alone.
There is a general perception that a lockdown situation is a time when you can let loose, watch Netflix all day, and pig out on junk food. Do not buy into that mindset. Tell yourself that you have far more respect for your body—and your mind—than that. Be determined to follow a healthy eating pattern. Stick to your regular meal times, being sure to fill your plate with lean protein, complex carbs, green leafy vegetables, and healthy fats.
Another aspect of nourishing your body involves getting plenty of sleep. Of course, you don’t want too much of it or you’ll feel sluggish and unproductive. Maintain regular times to retire and get up, aiming for about seven and a half hours per night.
Just because we’re in the midst of a quarantine situation doesn’t mean that you have to go into a mental decline. It does, however, require you to undertake some first aid to bolster up your mental health. Take onboard our half dozen strategies, and you’ll be able to thrive rather than simply survive during your time in forced quarantine.