I would like to briefly introduce myself before you get into my tips on how to look after your mental health during self-isolation. I’m Jazmin, and I’m a recent Psychology graduate! In light of the Coronavirus crisis, I would like to use my knowledge of Psychology and mental health (through academic education as well as my own personal experience) to share some key information on how to stay healthy and balanced during these difficult times.
Many of us are in self-isolation now to try and slow the spread of the Coronavirus. Staying inside for long periods of time is not good for our mental health, and it doesn’t matter if you’re extroverted or introverted; we’re all affected by self-isolation. Boredom, loss of a routine, lack of purpose, and a lack of socialisation can lead to us feeling low or even depressed.
Aside from self-isolation, the uncertainness of these times and the increasingly negative news can lead to stress and anxiety. It’s important that we all look after our mental health during this period of self-isolation, and it’s more necessary than ever to do things that bring calm, balance and just make you feel good!
It is for this reason that I have compiled this list of tips on how to look after your mental and physical health, in order to stay happy and healthy when self-isolating!
1) Open your windows
As we are having to stay inside all the time, we need to make sure we’re still getting plenty of fresh air, especially if you don’t have a garden! This is something that we often overlook, but opening your windows regularly improves indoor air quality- and your mind needs fresh air to be able to work properly!
2) Set up a routine
Setting a daily routine can make self-isolation a lot easier and will have a positive impact on your mental health. Making sure you go to sleep and wake up at a reasonable time will help your mood (just because you’re stuck inside doesn’t mean you don’t deserve your 8 hours of sleep!), and the structure of a daily routine allows you to be feel more in control of your day.
This Coronavirus situation is making us all feel out of control, and this is associated with negative feelings and depression, so a daily schedule will help keep you balanced. It doesn’t need to be strict, but waking up at the same time every day and allocating time to different activities will help you stay productive and happy.
3) Get out
Sunlight is an incredible thing for combatting the blues, as is being able to appreciate nature. Because we have to self-isolate and stay home now it is easy to feel caged in, so getting out at least once a day is very helpful for staying balanced and healthy. Even just stepping out to the garden for a while is good!
With all the free time we have on our hands, now is a great time to sit outside, reading a book for example! If the government has placed restrictions on outings where you live, stick to these rules- but take all the opportunities you are given to get out, appreciate nature and feel the sun on your skin!
4) Keep in touch
Self-isolation is the literal opposite of what our incredibly social minds crave. Staying inside, especially if you’re self-isolating alone, can really take a toll on your mental health. To combat this, use all the technology at your disposal to stay in touch with your friends and family. You could video call your friends and family, or create a group chat to make it easy for you and your friends and family to check up on each other (and send toilet paper shortages memes). And why not send flowers to a loved one that you miss?
As obvious as it may sound, self-care makes you feel good! With all the stress and anxiety that you probably feel because of the Coronavirus, it’s important to check in with yourself and have a good look at whether you are doing things that make you feel happy and healthy. It’s easy to spend your self-isolation period binge watching Friends on the sofa, and if that makes you happy, that’s great! However, it is easy to end up distracting yourself and to not care for yourself, which can lead to you feeling miserable very quickly.
Please make sure that you’re eating well! And yes, I know potatoes are technically vegetables but fries for every meal does not constitute eating well 😉 Try to eat 2-3 meals a day with plenty of fruits and vegetables, and drink plenty of water!
But self-care doesn’t just mean being healthy. Self-care can be spending time doing your favourite hobbies or activities, or just getting dressed every-day, as if you were still going out. For me personally, I enjoy putting on some makeup every few days, as it just makes me feel nice! No-one is seeing me, but that isn’t the point; how it makes me feel is! For others, taking a relaxing bubble bath, or pampering themselves can be the self-care they enjoy. I have a previous blog post on how to create a homemade body scrub which you might be interested in.
Just make sure you’re looking after yourself!
6) Stay creative
Being creative or picking up a new activity you’d like to learn can help to keep you feeling positive. It gives you purpose and seeing your growth or what you’ve created is extremely rewarding! During these times, I have been devoting a lot of time to my blog, as this is a creative outlet for me. In fact, you might be interested in my last blog post, which is ‘How to have the best birthday when you’re self-isolating’ and is also focused on bringing some joy to our self-isolation lives. Right now, I’m interested in writing in the hopes that I can help make other people’s self-isolation just a little bit better.
Some other creative outlets could be baking (now’s the perfect time to try that dessert you’ve always wanted to bake), painting, or even dancing. Coming out of self-isolation being able to play an instrument would be pretty cool!
Based on Buddhist beliefs, mindfulness is the practice of intentional, focused attention and accepting uncomfortable feelings as a normal part of life. Taking some time out of your day to do some mindfulness will help with focus and anxiety, and it is a great way to cope with negative feelings and low mood, and has been proven to help with depression. A good free App on the Android Play Store is Smiling Mind.
8) Don’t fixate
Staying up to date with the news can help you feel more connected with the world and avoid feeling out of the loop, and being aware of the latest medical advice is important. You should definitely keep up to date with the government’s statements and regulations, as well as Coronavirus updates, but it is important to not fixate on this news. The news is extremely dark and scary right now, and following every new case of the Coronavirus is only going to cause you stress and anxiety. You could try reading the news once a day or every other day, or listen to a news summary as you lie in bed in the morning.
It’s ok to take a break from the news!
I know, I know… but exercise is one of the best ways to stay healthy and feeling good! Exercising is crucial right now because we are all going through a long period of inactivity, and exercising releases endorphins which are associated with a positive mood. Although the gyms are mostly closed now, there are still plenty of exercises you can do!
For example, you could do some yoga or pilates at home, or some weightlifting to work on your muscles which are probably not being used as much as normal. There are so many full body or focused workouts (for in the house) on YouTube and Instagram that you could follow, and depending on where you are, you still may be allowed to go out for exercise. In the UK, you are now allowed to go out once a day for a walk or a jog, and you should make the most of this opportunity!
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post! I think mental health is so important, and right now with the Coronavirus crisis it can be difficult to stay happy and healthy. I really hope this article was of some use to you.
I will continue posting about mental health, self-care and beauty related to Coronavirus, so please stay tuned for that.
If you found this post helpful, please consider sharing it with family and friends- I would love to help as many people as possible.