During the midst of this current pandemic, people all around the world are staying at home. Many states in the US are implementing a "shelter in place" protocol, which means that citizens are to stay inside and only leave their homes for emergency reasons. While this is an excellent public health measure, the mental health implications of social isolation can be detrimental if not handled correctly. In this article, we will be sharing impactful steps that you can take to protect your mental health during this unique time.
Maintain a Positive Outlook Through Positive "Self Talk"
What is positive self talk? Self-talk is the internal dialogue that is influenced by the subconscious mind and is reveals your true beliefs. By being aware of your thoughts and by correcting negative thoughts or limiting beliefs, you can better maintain control over your mood and emotions. Examples of negative versus positive self-talk are as follows:
Negative: There is just no way that this will work.
Positive: I can and will give it my all in an attempt to make it work.
Negative: I am overweight, and it is useless to try to get healthy.
Positive: I am capable of becoming healthy because I am choosing to have what it takes to succeed and reach my goals.
Try it: Try observing your thoughts more this week, and when a negative thought arises, write it down and also write a positive, opposite belief to counteract the negativity. Focus on this new, positive belief until it replaces the old, negative belief.
Prioritize Self Care
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines self-care as, Self-care as,
"What people do for themselves to establish and maintain health and to prevent and deal with illness. It is a broad concept encompassing hygiene, nutrition, lifestyle, environmental factors, and socio-economic factors."
Self-care is extremely beneficial during times of stress, grief, change, and turmoil. Some examples of self-care are as follows:
Eat healthy, unprocessed food
Work out 30 minutes daily
Sleep at least 8 hours every evening
Avoid cellphone use before bed
Spend time in nature if possible
Turn off the news if it causes stress
Write down ten things that you are thankful for daily
Get dressed every day, even when not leaving the house
Instead of binge-watching TV, call a friend and talk
Consider online counseling to help process stress
Create a Daily Schedule
Creating a detailed or informal structure for your day can help you mentally stay on track throughout the day. Implementing a morning, afternoon, and evening routine can bring a sense of normalcy and peace of mind during this time.
Here is an example of a daily routine that may work well for the average working person.
7-8 am - Wake up, take care of hygiene needs, drink water and coffee, eat a healthy breakfast, complete a bodyweight workout and journal
8-12 am - Complete work-related tasks from a desk in a room that has a window with an outside view
12-1 pm - Eat a nourishing lunch while avoiding television or anything work-related, and then go for a walk outside if permitted by your region
1-5 pm - Complete any remaining work-related tasks, and take a 15-minute break if distraction or fatigue begins to set in
5-7 pm - Make a nutritious dinner, eat dinner at the table with your family, or have a "virtual dinner" with friends via Zoom, clean the kitchen
7-9 pm - Read an educational book, listen to music, call a friend to catch up, watch a positive TV show or movie, such as an educational documentary or an uplifting comedy
9-11 pm - Relax, unwind, and make an effort to stay off of your phone if possible during this time, and aim to fall asleep before 11 p.m.
Although it may feel like a change at first to use a schedule, you may find that it helps you stay on task, which will lead to overall life satisfaction. Feeling satisfied and content is a basic human need, and utilizing a schedule similar to the one we have provided can provide noticeable mental health benefits during this time.
During this time, it may be helpful to cling onto some helpful, inspiring quotes.
“It is only in our darkest hours that we may discover the true strength of the brilliant light within ourselves that can never, ever, be dimmed.” – Doe Zantamata
“Every adversity, every failure, and every heartache carries with it the seed of an equivalent or a greater benefit.”– Napoleon Hill
“Tough times never last, but tough people do.” – Robert H Schuller
“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” – Henry Ford
“Things turn out the best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”-John Wooden
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day, saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”– Mary Anne Radmacher
“You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.”– James Allen