The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has changed the world as we know it. Never did we imagine that countries will seal off their borders, citizens would be instructed to stay indoors and businesses would come to a halt. As the number of infected cases and deaths rise day by day, we are living in times of unprecedented uncertainty. Nobody knows what the world will look like a month from now or six months from now.
If you are someone who is able to practise social distancing without it completely derailing your life and livelihood, take a moment to be grateful for your privilege. However, it is also okay to acknowledge your privilege and admit that the self-quarantine is affecting your mental health. Human beings are social creatures, and living in complete social isolation can spike our anxiety and depression. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and restless at home, here’s a list of some social-distancing activities that will help you stay calm.
Look, we get it–there are scary, uncertain times and you want to keep up with what’s happening. However, constantly being glued to the news, reading about every new positive case or infection will keep you in a constant state of panic. This will severely hamper your day-to-day activities like working from home, cooking, working out or even relaxing with a drink.
Pro Tip: If you want to keep up with the news without being constantly attached to your screens, subscribe to news alerts on your phone. That way, you will keep up with all the important updates, without being in a constant state of anxiety.
All those posts on social media telling you to ‘hit it hard!’ at home? Yeah, forget about those. While working out does improve your mental health significantly, you don’t have to necessarily push yourself too hard (especially if you don’t want to). When we’re feeling depressed or anxious, even getting out of bed can become a major feat. So ditch those high-intensity workouts, and give your body the kind of movement you enjoy. This could include aerobics, dancing, yoga, or just some stretches. Do whatever makes you feel good without the unwarranted pressure of #BodyGoals.
A great way to get out of your head when you’re spiralling with anxiety is to direct your attention outwards. Engaging your hands and keeping yourself physically busy will help you focus on the task at hand. Fun activities you can try can include cooking, playing an instrument, knitting, painting…whatever you enjoy. Remember, the goal here isn’t to ‘be productive’, but to relieve stress while spending time doing an activity that brings you joy and calm.
It’s a well-known fact that human beings thrive on routine. Pre-planning our day and setting aside time for work, chores, exercise and cooking will help us gain more control over our lives during such uncertain times. However, while we always schedule in all our ‘productive’ activities, why do we ignore downtime? It is equally important to ‘schedule’ in fun activities into your routine, because all work and no play…you get the picture. Set aside proper time for reading, watching Netflix, painting…whatever it is that you do to unwind. Prioritise having fun as much as you prioritise being productive.
Games are a great way to engage your brain cells during a fun activity. My favourite thing to do is the daily crossword, but you can do what you enjoy–this could be solving a puzzle, sudoku or a strategy board game. According to a 2019 study by the University of Exeter, cognitive games like these hone memory, attention, and reasoning skills. They also involve logical thinking, which prevents your mind from worrying about anything else and helps you focus on the task at hand. Plus, once you finish solving the game it gives you a sense of accomplishment, boosting your self-esteem.
We’re living through chaotic, uncertain times so it is important to ground yourself and keep your mental health in check. But when you’re feeling extremely low, it is also essential to be gentle with yourself, and remember that this is just a temporary phase–we are all in this together, and one day we’ll be telling our grandchildren about the time the entire world shut down because of a microscopic being.
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