We are living in unprecedented times where we have to stay indoors for the sake of everyone’s health. Whether you are doing this for yourself, your family members, or for the entire community, this is a social responsibility that should make you feel proud of your efforts to help. Even though it looks pretty scary out there, we have been flattening the curve by doing our part.
Yes, I know you’re bored to pieces! Maybe you keep refreshing your Instagram account or you have been watching the news on repeat (stop doing that!). Trust me, things are not going to change overnight. It will take a lot of work and effort on everyone’s part to make this virus chill out. This just means we have to listen to the experts who are going to guide us through this pandemic, and hopefully, sometime soon, we will move on with our lives.
I hope throughout this, we will learn some pretty amazing lessons, such as connectedness (and I’m not talking about “liking” someone’s Facebook post). I’m talking about connecting with friends and family members on a deeper level. I can’t tell you how many Zoom and FaceTime meetings I’ve had with friends and family members in the past month. My go-to has always been text, but my extroverted self craves that human connection and communication. So let’s just say, even though I have my little family together, this has been particularly difficult for me!
So if you’re like most people, this quarantine is causing a lot of stress and anxiety due to reasons we can’t control. And that’s the thing with anxiety, it wants to control everything and right now, we just can’t! Did you hear that? We can’t control everything! Now, take a deep breath, because even though we can’t control what is going on in the world, we can control what we do. So here are some suggestions to help you pass your time during the pandemic that will not only help your wellbeing but your mental health in positive ways:
Do something that will get your blood pumping! More and more researchers in the field of psychology and behavioral science are finding the benefits of exercise and our brain. Doing some sort of aerobic exercise will not just help you with getting healthy, but will also help with your mental health. I usually tell my clients, 20 minutes is all it takes! Get your blood pumping for 20 minutes every other day for about 6 weeks, and it does the same as taking an antidepressant. Exercise helps with clearing our minds too! So, take an online class on YouTube or the hundreds of fitness apps out there, or simply go for a run! Just remember to keep a safe distance from other people.
I know, I know, you can’t quite get your mind quiet at this time (or ever), but the more you practice, the better you’ll get at it. Just focus on your breathing. When a thought comes up, say to yourself, “oh, there’s a thought,” and let it go and focus back on your breathing. That’s it! That’s all it takes, and you can do it ANYWHERE!
3. Practice Yoga
If you’re like most people who have a hard time meditating, you can try practicing yoga. YouTube has a whole bunch of different yoga classes for free and ranges from kids yoga to more advanced practices. Our favorite is Yoga with Adrienne (and no, she is not paying me to say that, haha!).
4. Focus on Gratitude
I always tell clients that when we focus on being grateful, we focus less on our fears and anxiety. One of the exercises I give clients is thinking about 5 things each day that they are thankful for (you can also write them down if you want). Do this for 7 days and see how you feel!
5. Go For a Walk in Nature
Now this is a little bit tricky if you don’t live in an open area. But, if you can, try going on a trail. Of course, be safe and stay away from other people and be mindful of not staying too long so others can enjoy as well. Or just go for a walk around your block where you can soak up some vitamin D.
If your thoughts are running a mile a minute, take some time and write in a journal. Doing so will get those thoughts on paper and will free your mind. Who knows, maybe you’ll come up with some awesome ideas in the process!
7. Watch Good News
So, of course, you can go on Google or turn on the TV and you’ll see plenty of bad news. Take a break from that and go to sites like Good News Network or John Krasinski’s Some Good News (SGN) to watch and read about all the amazing things people are doing around the globe! Yes, what we’re going through is terrible, but let’s look on the bright side! People’s good stories help us feel good too!
Like I mentioned previously, it is SOOO important to connect right now! Go call family members and friends just to check on them. It’ll help you and it’ll help them stay connected through this pandemic.
If your anxiety is making it difficult for you to function, it would be a good idea to reach out to a mental health professional for additional help and support.
Monica Wells, MS, LMHC
Mental Health Counselor in Huntington, NY
Specializing in Social Anxiety & Social Skills