17 Mar Staying (Mentally) Healthy During Social Distancing
Establish a routine
Routines are the first thing to go when we’re at home, but they are a very important way of staying psychologically healthy. This will be especially important if you are home with children. For the whole family:
- Try to maintain regular sleep and wake times
- If working from home, keep to a regular schedule, and make sure you don’t let your work bleed to all hours of day (if possible)
- Keep the kids as scheduled as possible, try to balance new learning as well as fun group and independent activities. Libraries, museums and parent groups all have links to free entertaining and educational activities online.
- Try to maintain your normal eating patterns and routines as if you are out of the house (put away the industrial size pack of M&Ms!).
Stay connected (with friends and family)
Although you will not be able to have as much face to face contact with family and friends, it is important to stay connected. Look for novel ways to stay interact, including group messaging, online video chats, or the old fashion telephone. Why not schedule a group video hangout with your friends, through any video messaging platform?
If you are struggling, reach out to family or friends, or a mental health provider (Ask for phone or telepsychology options).
Disconnect (from the news…for a bit)
It’ s important that we all stay informed, but we don’t need to stay connected to the news cycle constantly. The continuous discussion, guessing, and rehashing, can be very anxiety provoking. So turn off your favourite news network and mute your news feeds, it doesn’t need to be the soundtrack of your time at home. Check every few hours for important updates, in between turn it off and turn on an entertaining show, some music or a podcast. I guarantee that if something important happens, you will learn about it.
Social media is a great way to stay connected with others, but is also the source of significant misinformation. Such misinformation can escalate anxiety quickly (and needlessly). Make sure that you consume information from social media critically and confirm any news with traditional media. It is unlikely that @covid19truther has better, more reliable information then professional journalists. So put your devices down for a bit and rely on traditional media to keep you informed.
Plan fun activities
This can be part of your effort to connect virtually with others outside of the house, but also for those in the house…do something fun!
Take time to yourself
If you’re with the family, remember to try to take some time to yourself. Parents all over are now screaming at their devices “WHAT AN IDIOT”. I know that this may be easier said than done, but look at your schedule and work with those in your home to free some time for yourself (15-20 minutes/day). Maintaining a regular bedtime for young children will give you some time to decompress at the end of the day.
Get some exercise! The mental health benefits of exercise are well established, so go for a walk (with appropriate social distancing!..2 metres or 6 feet apart please!), find some home based workouts on YouTube, or just have a dance party.
Check In On Somebody
We’re all in this together, so reach out to a neighbour, friend or colleague to see how they are doing and if they need anything. Especially check in on anybody that is high risk (elderly, immunocompromised or unable to access what they need).