During this time of isolating at home to curb the spread of COVID-19, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important for you to remain healthy and happy. There’s the uncertainty of the virus and its effect on the economy. You may have lost your job. If you have kids, you have to make sure they’re doing their online schooling, which is a drastic change for them too. If you didn’t lose your job, you may be having to adapt to doing your job from home. Shopping for groceries has evolved from a chore to a stressful maze of one-way aisles, trying to keep a 6-ft. space between you and all of the other shoppers, and trying to determine everything you’ll need to avoid setting foot in a grocery store for the next 2 weeks. It’s exhausting.
Times have changed, if only temporarily. The lives we had settled into are different and we’re all in the process of figuring out what “normal” is going to be from here on out. During this tumultuous time, it’s more important than ever that you take the time to take care of yourself. We all need some form of self-care to remain mentally and physically healthy. Self-care helps to reduce our stress and anxiety which for many has been ramped up due to the coronavirus. It also gives our minds and bodies the rest it needs to handle these difficult times.
How To Practice Self-care
Self-care isn’t just about doing what makes you happy. It’s about taking the time and the steps necessary to give your mind and your body the tools they need to function properly.
Eat healthy foods. It’s tempting during this time of stress to binge on junk foods, i.e. “comfort foods”. But foods high in sugar and that are highly processed and a diet lacking omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins can cause inflammation which can lead to poor mental health and depression. Eat a diet rich in foods that are good for brain health such as fish, kale, beans, legumes, yogurt, nuts, and green leafy veggies.
Stay in touch. Staying at home doesn’t mean you can’t connect with friends and loved ones. There are many simple platforms that can allow you to video chat with the people you care about which is the next best thing to being there. They allow workers to have virtual meetings but you don’t have to be working online to use it. Make it a family reunion! Have a game night. Binge-watch your favorite show together. Staying at home doesn’t mean you can’t have meaningful connections.
Get enough sleep. The stress of the pandemic has been causing interruptions in many people’s sleep but getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night is vital for our mental and physical health. Before bed, do some relaxing stretches, take a hot bath, listen to calming music. Resist the urge to stare at your phone before bed because the blue light inhibits the production of natural melatonin that helps you sleep.
Stay on a regular schedule. During this time that we’re staying at home, it’s hard to keep track of what day of the week it is. Our minds need routines. Stick to a regular sleep schedule, get up at the same time every day, eat meals regularly, and exercise at the same time, etc.
Stay active. Regular, strenuous exercise is vital to our mental health. Find an exercise that you enjoy like running, walking, or biking and get out there and do it in an area where it’s safe to do so right now. Check out some exercise videos on Youtube. Do yoga in your living room (it’s an excellent stress-reliever). Staying active during home confinement isn’t just getting exercise. It’s important that you keep your mind busy, especially if you’re prone to overthinking. Find a new hobby, clean out your closets, write that Great American Novel―anything that will keep you engaged in a positive way.
Keep realistic expectations. Don’t expect too much from yourself. Pay no attention to those people you see on social media who have cleaned their homes from top to bottom while homeschooling their children and making lunches for all of the essential workers in town. That’s not reality. Do things that will keep you active while not putting too much pressure on yourself to accomplish big things. It’s not a competition, it’s coping.
Take a break from the news. It’s good to stay informed during times of national crisis but it can also create a lot of unnecessary noise that will increase anxiety. Get the information that you need but don’t stick around for the chatter. Listen to music instead. Or a comedic podcast. Or just enjoy the calming silence.
If you’re overwhelmed during this difficult time, you are not alone. Like many mental health professionals, your therapist may be offering virtual therapy sessions via Telehealth. You can also call SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline at (800)985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to speak to a counselor.
Even though dealing with this crisis involves isolation, we’re all in this together. We’ll emerge from this crisis stronger and with a better knowledge of ourselves and what we can do to better prepare ourselves in the future
For people suffering from MDD and are unable to find relief from symptoms with antidepressants, Gateway TMS may be able to help. At Gateway TMS, we provide Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for the treatment of Major Depressive Disorder. We’re one of the leading providers of TMS treatments for symptoms of Depression in the St. Louis area. Call us today at (314)909-8487 and find out if TMS is right for you.