No matter where you live on the planet, you’ve probably been affected in some way by COVID-19. Maybe you’ve lost your job and you’re in the throws of applying for unemployment. Or maybe you’re new to working from home, and are adjusting to telecommute life. Or maybe you’re homeschooling your kids, and have a very different dynamic with your family.
At the end of the day, we’re all discovering our new “normal-for-now”. And it can be easy to get caught up in the stress of this transition period. So I thought I’d compile what I’ve learned about working from home, mental health best practices, and stress management into five takeaways to boost your attitude and help you make this the best (and hopefully last) quarantine ever.
1. Radical Acceptance
What is Radical Acceptance?
This one was new on me. I recently learned this from my therapist, and it’s been a game changer. Radical acceptance is when you accept an uncomfortable aspect of life that you may not like. This doesn’t mean you have to condone or approve of the situation.
Sheri Van Dijk, (MSW, RSW) said “It simply means that you are acknowledging reality.”
How do you practice radical acceptance? Every day, take the time to recognize that this aspect of your life is something you have to co-exist with for right now. That can be done through journaling, therapy, or even practicing mantras.
My favorite mantra of radical acceptance is “This is where I am for today.” I love this because it can apply to your physical or mental circumstance.
Radical acceptance can actually reduce stress, and allow you to better handle what you’re dealing with at the moment. So know that for today, this is how things are. But they won’t always be this way.
Note: Radical acceptance doesn’t necessarily apply to circumstances where you are in an unhealthy living situation (ie domestic violence, lack of basic needs, etc. If you are facing something severe, please seek help from your local charity or support organization.)
2. Practice Mental Hygiene Everyday
What is Mental Hygiene?
Mental hygiene is the ongoing practice of keeping your mind and emotions in a healthy place. The World Health Organization states that “health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
There are LOTS of ways to practice mental hygiene! And not just by doing meditation, although I highly recommend it… it’s done wonders for my anxiety. You can video call a friend, journal, or if things are getting intense you can even text or call a crisis hotline (for the US text HOME to 741741).
I recommend varying your method of care based on how you’re feeling each day. Some days I feel great after journaling, other days I know I have to get in a good workout, and sometimes I just need to watch cartoons with my weighted blanket.
So take a moment every day to ask yourself, What am I doing for my mental hygiene today? And set aside time to keep yourself balanced throughout the week.
3. Be Creative (When Your Cup is Full)
What if I’m not ready to be creative yet?
That’s totally okay. We’ve all heard that saying, you can’t pour from an empty cup. That applies to you even if you’re in quarantine! See above (take care of your mental hygiene) and when you’re feeling like you’re in a good place, you can get creative.
Despite the closing of movie theaters, Broadway shows, art galleries and more, we are seeing so many individuals and businesses take action to keep art alive during this time. I myself have had more outlets for creativity in the last two weeks than I have in the last six months!
Think about the silver lining of being at home: nearly everything is connected virtually, so you don’t have to travel anywhere to stretch your skills. Learn a new language, write a short story, take an online class, have a reading of your favorite movie with friends, whatever!
I’m learning guitar, building my copy editing and copywriting business, and practicing singing. NONE of which I had time for before shelter in place came along.
Make this precious time an ally, and find ways to get constructive with your hours.
4. Get Active – No, Seriously.
This is a tricky one. Because let’s face it, if you’re already an active person you probably don’t have the same access to equipment that you used to have. And if you’re not an active person, there’s even less incentive to start working out now!
But endorphins are key to building a good mood, a healthy heart, and proper digestion. It will also help you sleep more soundly, and feel a sense of accomplishment!
My personal routine is yoga and meditation in the morning and weight training at night. Even though my workouts look different than they did before, I’m still feeling all the same benefits. I love getting my zen on before starting the day, and I love seeing my slow but steady progression in weight training.
No matter how stuck I feel, exercise always helps me shake the blues. So get moving, in whatever resonates with you.
5. Remember You’re Not Alone
Why am I feeling so sad/angry/anxious?
Despite the fact that the entire world is touched by this pandemic in some way, physical distancing can make us feel isolated and lonely. Especially if you live by yourself, or if you don’t have a good relationship with the people you stay with.
But ultimately, everyone has had to significantly adjust their lives and routines to stop this pandemic from spreading (which, by the way, please comply with all CDC instructions and stay home unless absolutely necessary.)
So we can take comfort in the fact that we are not alone – we’re all experiencing this in different ways. And the best way to get through it is together.
Take the extra steps to connect with family and friends with video calls. Check on your neighbors to make sure they’re okay. Acknowledge if you need additional support with your mental wellbeing.
So let’s put all these suggestions into practice with a few mantras, shall we?
Repeat after me:
I accept that life is different right now.
I can and will take steps to stay healthy both mentally and physically.
I can and will use this time to my advantage.
I am not alone and I will reach out for help when I need it.
Here’s to a quality quarantine,
Note: I am not a medical professional. These are personal recommendations based on my experience.