Stay at home. Thanks to COVID-19, what was once a Sunday hangover past-time has now become a way of life for most of us. With most of your time being spent indoors, it’s more important than ever to keep your mental health and wellbeing in check. So, here’s some advice to keep in mind while we all adhere to government advice.
Limit your screen time
No surprises here – there’s a lot of media noise around the COVID-19 pandemic and while it’s important to stay updated with credible sources, it’s just as important to recognise when your exposure to media is causing stress or anxiety. Trust us, you’re not alone.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the news or social media, think about switching off or limiting your news intake to twice a day. Take some time away from your tech – our brains need a break from the constant stimulation and input. Being Zoomed-out is a thing.
Instead, spend some time doing something that relaxes you. Read a book, do something crafty, play an instrument, draw, paint or start a DIY project. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to distract yourself when you’ve accidentally Superglued your fingers together assembling that new shelf.
You are what you eat. So, I’d better change my Tinder profile to ‘25-year-old, pack of Tim Tams – recently returned from a cheese-and-hummus-hangover’. But seriously, it’s important to maintain a healthy diet while staying indoors – not only for your mental health but your physical health too. Indoors = less movement to burn off that pack of Doritos.
If your choices are less-than-healthy it can end up working against you, leaving you lethargic and just down-right cranky. We know the shelves might be empty of your usual go-tos (slide into my DM’s if you’ve found eggs) but take this as an opportunity to be creative with the fresh produce that is available. Seriously, when was the last time you cooked a radish?
Exercise from home
Missing pumping iron with PT-Kevin right now? Yeah, us too. Keeping up your exercise regime while gyms and leisure centres are closed will help reduce stress, restlessness, promote better sleep, and increase your energy levels. And if you’re feeling apprehensive or unsettled about the current environment, maintaining your exercise routine can help rid you of nervous energy and make you feel more at ease.
So, don’t skip leg day – set up a make-shift workout station in your loungeroom or backyard. There’s plenty of inspo online. Head outdoors for a walk, run or cycle – being conscious of government regulations of course. Or jump online and join a class. From yoga apps to Chris Hemsworth HIIT classes, there’s bound to be something you’re into.
You could also ask your local studio, instructor or PT if they’re taking their sessions online. Your daily sweat-sesh could be supporting a small business owner who might be doing it tough right now.
Your body needs water. Period. And if that’s a surprise, do yourself a favour and dust off that old human biology textbook from school. Hydration is integral for maintaining your mental and physical health – even mild dehydration can affect mood, energy levels and the ability to think clearly.
So, while you’re busy being mindful, getting stuck into that DIY project or exercising in your bedroom (in whatever form😉) – make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. It’ll flush the body of toxins, improve your mood and helps with fatigue and unhealthy cravings. And don’t forget that caffeine, sugar and alcohol cause you to lose more water than you gain, so try limit your consumption of those bad boys.
Plan your day
This situation isn’t normal. And that can be stressful and unsettling. So, to help combat any feelings of anxiety or stress, spend some time writing down how you want to spend your day. Don’t stay in your pjs all day. Eat at normal intervals. Get up and go to bed at your usual times. Sticking to a new routine will give you a sense of order and normality.
And when you’re creating a routine, make sure to build in time to do things you enjoy. Use this as an opportunity to change the things you weren’t loving about your normal day-to-day life. Spend more time cooking, playing board games with your housemates or video calling your dog – stuff you wouldn’t usually have time for.
Setting yourself daily tasks can also make you feel productive and help pass the time. Make a list of all those things you said you’d do “one day”, but never got around to. Slowly ticking these things off will give you a sense of accomplishment whilst staying home.
Keep in touch
This is a big one. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, being physically distant from your people can feel isolating. But luckily, we don’t live in the age of dial-up anymore! From video calling your loved ones, online messaging your work mates, virtual quiz nights with your sports team, to sending that funny AF Tik-Tok video to your bestie – there’s so many ways you can feel connected to people you would normally see in person.
If you were seeing a counsellor, therapist or support worker before moving indoors – ensure you continue accessing treatment and support remotely. This could be by phone, text or online. Be honest if you’re struggling with not seeing them face-to-face and they will help you work through it. Most importantly, always speak up if you’re feeling lonely or need help – there’s plenty of free support for you to access.
And if you’re ready to meet some new peeps who are just as curious and open-minded as you? There’s plenty of positive online communities around filled with people who are 100% different, but 100% the same.Search for groups involved in volunteer programmes, music, TV shows or hobbies that you’re passionate about.
Remember, whatever emotions you’re feeling right now – chances are someone else is feeling the same. Continue to connect. Keep dreaming. And stay safe, happy and hopeful.
We’re all in this together. Like it was meant to be.