1. Get Dressed.
If you’re unemployed, furloughed, or working from home, it may be tempting to remain in pajamas all day. However, studies have shown that continuing to shower and dress as though you were going to work helps give you a sense of purpose and increases your motivation to accomplish whatever tasks your day holds. If you’ve been living in your comfies, try getting dressed and see if it improves your outlook!
2. Create a Schedule.
Organizing your time, whether it’s by the day or by the week, helps create structure at a time when external structure may be lacking. Making a schedule allows you to prioritize what’s important, including taking care of your physical and mental health, along with any tasks you may have for maintaining your household, working from home, or helping children with school.
3. Go Outside.
Study after study has shown that being outside, whether it’s for a run, a bike ride, a walk, or simply sitting and enjoying nature, has a myriad of benefits for both physical and mental health. Going outdoors has been proven to reduce inflammation, eliminate fatigue, ease depression and anxiety, lower blood pressure, and even boost the immune system! If you’re feeling down in the dumps, go for a walk around the block and see if it doesn’t help you feel just a bit better.
4. Be Intentional.
This period of time is unlike any we’ve ever had before, and that presents some unique opportunities. If you’ve found yourself with extra time on your hands, now is the perfect chance for you to learn a new skill or polish an existing one. Dust off those old piano books, learn a new language, draw a picture, challenge yourself to read a certain number of novels, watch all the movies that have starred your favorite actor, or participate in an online fitness course. The spark of discovery will help get you through this trying time, and the new things you learn just might come in handy when life looks closer to normal.
5. Limit news and social media consumption.
While it’s helpful to remain informed, too much time reading news or social media can have a detrimental effect on your mental health. Choose one or two reliable sources for information and stick to those, rather than endlessly watching or scrolling through news. Social media can be tricky, because it’s our main way to stay connected right now, but can also be a source of misinformation and a potential trigger for anxiety. Utilize the “mute” or “unfollow” features various platforms provide if specific people, words, or topics upset you. Or try setting a timer for fifteen or twenty minutes a couple times a day and check in with social media only during those allotted times.
6. Be a helper.
Although our options are limited by social distancing requirements, there are still plenty of creative ways to reach out to others. Sewing face masks, checking on an elderly neighbor, donating to a local food pantry or other charitable organization, or even chalking an inspirational message on your driveway can help someone else. An added bonus is that it forces you to think beyond yourself and your current circumstances, and can boost your own mood, too.
7. Spread Out.
If you’re cooped up with roommates or relatives, plan times to do things together, as well as times for all of you to spread out and have some personal time alone. An appropriate balance between togetherness and alone time can relieve the monotony of being together under the same roof and can benefit everyone’s mental state.
Shift Your Mental Space. Although the COVID-19 outbreak comes with plenty of frustration, stress, and uncertainty, it also presents a unique opportunity for us all to slow down and focus on what really matters. Look for positive things happening in the world around you, keep a journal, or make a list of unique experiences you’ve had. Remember that although this time feels like it may last forever, it is in fact temporary. Keeping your focus on the positive will help you get through the more challenging aspects of this season.