I have to start out by thanking anyone who even *clicked* on this article, because it means you are taking the proper precautions to flatten the COVID-19 curve. Social distancing is of the utmost importance right now, and I’m happy you are taking not only your own health seriously, but also the health of those who are elderly or have any sort of underlying health conditions that could make recovery difficult, if not impossible.
I know that isolation isn’t the easiest task, especially for you extroverts, so as a proud introvert who has been social distancing and working from home for YEARS, I’ve compiled some tips on how to help you stay mentally healthy while social distancing for (at least) the next few weeks.
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We have got to keep exercising. But please, please, please – do not go to the gym or to a packed studio. I’m not a doctor, but I would have to imagine catching *any* sort of virus is a lot easier in a crowded, sweaty, and energized room. People are out of breath and coughing and sneezing without being able to quickly find a tissue and just…let’s not.
But, for your own mental sanity, it’s best not to ditch the workout routine. I don’t know about you, but I’m stressed out. Like, really stressed out. My husband is still stuck in Europe, his job is basically over, and we don’t know when he’ll be employed again. Meanwhile I’ve got friends and family who are immunocompromised and I am hoping they don’t come in close contact with anyone who might be carrying the virus. (Remember, we don’t show symptoms for at minimum four days, and usually longer!)
And of course, none of this even encompasses the existential damages we’re all thinking about right now. Whew.
So yeah, I’m really freaking stressed.
Which means I can’t afford to not burn off some excess energy.
This isn’t a vanity push or even a physical health push – this is about turning off our anxious mental states and replacing our anxiety with endorphins. We could all use some of that right now.
Not sure how to exercise when you aren’t in a gym or a class? I can understand that. My advice is to search YouTube for some easy routines. Jumping jacks, jump roping, push-ups, and planks will serve you very well. If you are feeling absolutely cramped and need some space to move, a walk around the neighborhood is not going to violate social distancing as long as you stay at least six feet away from others. Just be sure to wash your hands before you leave and as soon as you return!
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Meditation is not just for the experts or woo-woos or gurus in the world. It’s easy as pie and can bring you *immediate* stress relief. You don’t even need an app to meditate if you don’t want one. All you have to do is close your eyes, sit somewhere comfortable, breathe in and out, and try to focus your mind on either 1) your breath or 2) something that makes you happy.
You don’t need to get super fancy with this at all. The goal is to calm down your nervous system and flush out those anxious feelings we get when we feel a complete and utter loss of control. Perceived control is not coming back into our hands anytime within the next month – so we have to cope. We must cope. And I believe that meditation is one of the easiest (and free!) forms of coping we can execute for ourselves.
If you’re looking for an app to use, I like Calm. I do not get a dime from referring them to you – I just wanted to share with you what works for me!
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Do Something Small, but Actionable EveryDay
As humans, we like seeing results. We can’t help it. Instant gratification will never NOT be something we crave. Which is why during times of stress and turmoil, it’s good to go back to the basics.
Every single day, I want you to do *something* productive that gives you instant results. This could be as simple as doing the dishes. Organizing your closet (okay, that’s probably a big one if you’re anything like me.) Do the laundry. Cook a meal. Vacuum the floor. Clean out your dresser. Scrub your toilet. Trim your cat’s nails (this is very challenging in my house). Frankly I don’t really care what it is as long as it’s something that makes you instantly proud of yourself while you get to reap the benefits of the instant results.
The next few weeks/months/whatever are going to be stressful, so it’s okay to focus on the small things. Let them bring you joy.
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Check in On People
While it may not be smart for you to do grocery runs or errands for your friends or family (every situation is different!), it’s always acceptable to check in on your people. Do you know any healthcare workers? I bet they could use your love. Has anyone in your circle been economically affected by COVID-19? If no one has yet, someone probably will, and I bet they would appreciate your support. And then of course, I’m sure most of our friends are white-knuckling it through this time of quarantine – so drop them a line, too.
We are extremely blessed to have technology that allows us to connect in such intimate ways while not putting others’ health at risk. Use it to your advantage. Try your best not to hole up and falsely believe that social distancing means we can’t have social connection. In fact, make it a goal to reach out to someone every single day. We all need to feel connected right now, and you doing your part will make this process so much more bearable.
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If you are feeling your mental health taking a big toll, please reach out and use an online service to alleviate the pressure. TeleDoc and other services can offer you treatment plans or even the prescriptions you need to make sure you’re operating at 100%. Services like ours, Blush, and others offer online texting and video chat so you can connect with someone who can assist you during this time without exposing anyone to the virus. We are here so you can vent, strategize, brainstorm, process, and move forward in your life regardless if you can’t walk out the front door.
Although it may feel like it, the world is not going to stop turning during this pandemic. You will still feel the typical stressors life brings. Those career, relationship, friendship, and self-confidence triggers will find a way to slide into your life even if you physically remain at home. I encourage you to take your self-care seriously during this time and make sure you are leaning on the ones who can help you the most.
If you take anything away from this article, this is what I want to leave you with: Suffering in silence is never okay, even during an isolating time of crisis. Counselors and doctors and life coaches are still there for you, even if we’re separated by hundreds of miles.
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Do Not Guilt Yourself Over Resting
I know so many of you are used to the “go-go-go!” lifestyle. You have a fulltime job, a circle of friends, maybe a relationship, a side hustle, and plenty of other things that you are constantly attending to.
So this whole social distancing thing has REALLY slowed your life down in a way you never thought possible.
If we can find ONE piece of silver lining in any of this, it’s rest.
Please do not shame yourself for resting right now. You are allowed to watch movies and bad television shows. You are allowed to take naps when you need to, even if you got a full night’s sleep the night before. You are free to stay in your pajamas and not wear makeup and take an extra day between your regular shampoos.
When’s the last time you’ve actually been given a chance to breathe? You might say “vacation” – but even then, we’re still under pressure to see the things we want to see or do the things we traveled to do. And if you say “the holidays” – girl, lol. As if the holidays aren’t beyond stressful. So take this chance now. Pack in the sleep. Put on those face masks. Journal to your heart’s content. Do whatever you can do to fill your soul.
We will overcome this. It will be painful and scary and anxiety-provoking, but we will see the other side of this pandemic. Your life will resume to it’s maddening fast pace, and when it does, I want you to step back into the world feeling refreshed and ready to kick some ass.
So…just chill out for a bit.
Leaning into the rest is going to help make this situation more bearable. Catch up on your sleep, your books, your shows, and that quality time your sweet lil pet has been missing out on. And when you hear that little voice in your head telling yourself to “be productive” – shut it off. You are being productive. You are actively SAVING LIVES by staying indoors and practicing social distancing.
Never forget that.