There have been a lot of changes recently. No one would’ve guessed that we would be in the situation we are in. Schools closed, industries shut down and a lot of people working from home, many of them while taking care of their kids.
Now that we’re a couple weeks into this ‘new normal’ of the corona virus (COVID-19), we’re all starting to get used to social distancing, washing our hands, and sanitizing surfaces. It seems like we have the plan on how to avoid the virus as much as possible. Now we need to look at ways to keep our minds healthy. Abruptly changing a lot of routines can create a lot of stress. Isolating and getting cooped up can cause discouragement and mood swings. The last thing we need is a spike in depression and anxiety. The good news is that there are things each of us can do to keep our minds healthy.
9 tips to help your mind during this pandemic.
- Keep a schedule. If you are working and living in the same space, it is important to keep as much routine as you can. See how close to your typical routine you can get. With much of life changing, we need to have something that is familiar. Keeping your structure as close as you can to what it was can be helpful. It also helps you and those you live with to know when you are available and when you need to work. When you work from home, one of the hardest things to do is to know when you’re done. Schedule the end time… and then be done.
- Get dressed. This may seem silly to some, but even if you never have to leave the house, working in your pajamas or sweats just doesn’t inspire good work for most people. That doesn’t mean you need to wear a tie. Casual work attire is probably OK, unless work requires something more. The idea is that getting dressed helps your mind realize that you are actually working, it helps separate work from relaxing.
- Separate your space. Create some workspace separate from your eating, living and sleeping spaces. For some, it means setting up a desk in the spare bedroom. If possible, use a space that has a door, especially if you need to be on conference calls. At the end of the day, walk out and close the door. Having different space helps you to leave work at work… even if it is at your home.
- Stay connected. Just because we need to avoid contact and socially distance, doesn’t mean we need to avoid connection. Find ways to connect with friends, family and neighbors. Walk outside in the neighborhood and chat with a neighbor… 6 feet away. Swing by your mom’s and talk through the window. Use the technology to connect with people down the block or half-way around the world.
- Get outside. The fresh air will do you good. Your mom was right. If you are a mom telling your kids… you’re right! We all know that staying inside all day can have the walls closing in on us. Take a break. Schedule it. Get outside, take a walk, visit a park, sit on the patio. The weather is warming up and beckoning you to come join the outside world.
- Keep balance. Having balance in life has always been important. Now is no different. It is important to work AND to rest, AND to play. Living with balance requires some discipline and a little planning. With the extra time you have because you aren’t going out to a restaurant or meeting with friends several times a week, it is a good time to begin those important habits that you have wanted to do. Do some reading, take up running, start fixing healthier meals, spend time playing games with your partner, kids or family. Life is too short, enjoy the moments.
- Practice gratitude. Most of us need to do more of this anyway. Every day write down three things for which you are grateful. Be specific. If you are grateful for your family, identify what you are thankful for. Maybe you got a card from Aunt Betsy or talked with your long-lost brother who moved to New Guinea because he owed you a lot of money. Focus on small things. If you can be thankful for small things, it is easy to have gratitude for larger ones. If you are having difficulty finding things you are thankful for, look for things you CAN be thankful for. Practice this for 30 days and see how your mindset changes.
- Take time to laugh. Laughter is good medicine. And who couldn’t use some good medicine right now. Find something to laugh about. Look around and notice the funny things around you. Check out humorous clips from movies online. For some of you, just look in the mirror… well, it works for me. Find a way to laugh for 5 minutes a day and see how it helps you feel.
- Contribute to others. During this time, find someone who you can help. Focus on their needs and helping them get through this. Help the older neighbor by picking up something from the store. Drop off a kid’s DVD that you’ve been meaning to get rid of to the family down the block. Check in on someone who might be lonely. Sew some masks as supply for the medical community. When you focus on helping others, you find your problems aren’t as large as they first seemed.
Stay safe, stay sane. Keeping your mood up and stress down can be done. It takes some simple steps repeated daily. Nine tips can be a lot to begin, so start with one! Choose one that you can see yourself being able to do. After a few days or a week, add another.
Check back, we’ll be looking at other ways to manage life through the current health crisis, including ways to manage relationships, parenting, and mindset.