How I'm dealing with social distancing due to coronavirus while protecting my mental health

Social distancing
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Social distancing and self-isolation have been phrases we've been hearing over and over again as part of the preventative measures to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. Government officials are asking people to remain indoors, unless absolutely necessary, and to especially avoid large crowds or gatherings. The first weekend the news hit in major cities like New York, there were a lot of people who went against the recommendations and still headed out to St. Patrick's Day celebrations or other types of activities like bars, brunches, and group dinners. 

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We live in a country that allows us certain freedoms, but it seems like a lot of people had trouble staying indoors for the sake of preventing more people from getting sick. For those who consider themselves introverts, are homebodies or have recently gone through some type of surgery or injury that has left them housebound, like me, this doesn't feel like much of a challenge. But for those who love being surrounded by their loved ones and being out and about, being inside all the time can have some potentially harmful effects on your mental state and your overall mood. Social isolation can easily lead to depression or anxiety if we're not careful, so continue reading for tips to keep yourself in good spirits during this period of social distancing.

Journaling is a good way to check in with my own thoughts.

Journaling is a good way to check in with my own thoughts.

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In 2019, I suffered a foot injury that had me stuck at home for months on end. It was tough at first, but I realized one way to assess how I was feeling or thinking on any particular day was to jot it down in a journal. It gave me time away from my phone and the computer screen and allowed me to reflect. It also gave me the opportunity to write down the things I was grateful for, even when I felt stuck. We're being constantly bombarded with news and scary alerts about the pandemic, so unplugging and sitting with your own words and thoughts will give you a good indication of where you are emotionally and mentally. 

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I stay active to keep my body and mind in shape.

It's easy to get into the habit of sitting on the couch and scrolling through social media, watching Netflix shows, and snacking. While there is nothing wrong with that to an extent, your body needs to be in motion. There are plenty of personal trainers and fitness experts who offer video training or share simple workouts on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube that you can do at home with little to no equipment. While these exercises will have you looking great when the social distancing period ends, getting your blood flowing will also do wonders for your physical health, your mood, and your mental health. During physical activity, the body releases chemicals called endorphins. Exercise also stimulates the release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. You will notice that you feel better throughout the day, have more energy, and have much better sleep. 

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If you're lucky to have other loved ones with you, do fun things together.

Instead of spending hours scrolling through social media, create some fun content of your own! TikTok videos are a great way to get your kids involved in doing an activity together that you will all enjoy. Screen time should be limited, unless it's something that brings you joy. 

Being home helped me flex my chef muscle.

We're used to rushing when making meals, but now that we have more time on our hands, it's a good time to get creative and learn new recipes--especially healthy ones. Ordering food might get way too expensive, and for the sake of your health and the health of the delivery people, cooking at home is your best option while social distancing. It's easy to opt for food that is comforting at a time like this, but feed your body nutritious food so that you feel energized from the inside out. 

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I choose TV shows and movies that bring me joy.

I choose TV shows and movies that bring me joy.

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The content you consume right now is important, and you have to be selective. Watching TV can be a good way to relax, and catching up on your Netflix queue is perfectly fine during a situation like this. While there are other productive things we can do while we're at home, enjoying a TV show that makes you laugh is exactly what you need right now. Avoid any movies or shows that make you emotional, scared, or sad, because now is not the time for that. An easy comedy or a documentary about something cool might work best. You can also watch your favorite shows while doing one of your home workouts or while cooking, to kill two birds with one stone. 

I used technology to stay connected with my loved ones.

I used technology to stay connected with my loved ones.

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This is a special situation because the entire world is affected. We thankfully live in a tech-heavy world that allows us to stay connected with people who are miles and miles away. Take advantage of the fact that all your friends and family are most likely in the same predicament as you, even if they are in a different country, and pick up the phone and call. Yes, texting is fine, too, but there is nothing like a face-to-face conversation, and while that is not possible right now--video calling and apps like FaceTime are the next best thing. You have the time to do it now, so make your loved ones a part of your day and make the bonds with your community even stronger. 

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I can tackle that long to-do list I've been putting off.

I can tackle that long to-do list I've been putting off.

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You know that one closet that needs organizing? Or that bag of old clothes you've been meaning to get rid of? Now is the time! It's important to keep our homes clean at this moment to keep germs and viruses at bay. But also, it's a good time to tackle any task around the house that needs attention. A clean space will do wonders for your mood and will help you be more productive. Filthy spaces only bring you down, so try your best to keep everything in place. 

Pets make wonderful companions.

Pets make wonderful companions.

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I can't stress enough how much my cat, Leo, helped me while I was home healing from my injury. Knowing he was around made me feel like I wasn't alone, and knowing I had him to look after gave me a sense of purpose and responsibility. A pet is a lifetime commitment, so I'm not saying to go and adopt or buy one now, since these social distancing measures are temporary. There are fostering options and many adoption places, and you can invite a dog or cat to stay with you for a few weeks so you have someone to share your home with. 

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Music has been my saving grace.

Music has been my saving grace.

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By now, you have probably watched the videos of people in Italy singing to each other from their balconies to keep their spirits high while they're quarantined. Make a playlist of the songs that make you the happiest so that you have no option but to want to get up and dance! If you are lucky to be isolating with loved ones, have a dance party. If you are on your own, pour yourself a glass of your favorite drink and dance like no one is watching--and have a blast!

Stick to a sleep schedule, and get plenty of rest.

Stick to a sleep schedule, and get plenty of rest.

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This is something I wish I did more often, and I notice the difference in my productivity levels when I don't get a full night's rest. It's easy to stay up late watching movies or endlessly scrolling on Instagram, but losing sleep will make you sluggish and cranky in the morning. Stick to a normal nightly routine, keep your sleep schedule the same as before, and set an alarm for the morning so that your rest time is not out of whack. 

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I do my best to keep up with my appearance.

I do my best to keep up with my appearance.

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Having one or two days where I spend the whole day in yesterday's pajamas is understandable, but it shouldn't be the norm. I try to wake up every morning, take a shower, and get dressed. You don't have to dress to impress, but put on some comfortable clothes that make you feel good. Do your hair, apply makeup if that's your thing, apply face masks, and give yourself a manicure and pedicure. Whatever it takes to keep yourself looking and feeling good is what you need to do. Regardless of what it is!

I drink water like it's my job.

I drink water like it's my job.

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I urge you to stay hydrated! While being at home, we can quickly forget our usual routines of drinking water at the office, at the gym, or anywhere else. Stick to the recommended eight glasses a day, and if you can do more, do so! Your body, your skin, and your mood will thank you.

Topics: advice  health care  health  healthy eating  healthy habits