7 Tips to Handle Mental Health Isolation Issues During Coronavirus
How to manage your health in times of stress and give yourself some space.
Mental health during isolation can be managed with thoughtfulness and action. Physical, emotional and mental health are linked together, and these seven steps will help you during the coronavirus pandemic.
Keep to a Schedule
To avoid lethargy, create a schedule to maintain your circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are the physical, mental and behavioral occurrences in your body throughout a 24-hour period.
Your biological clock is your body’s way of telling you when to sleep, eat and be active. Your internal clock is comprised of about 20,000 nerve cells that form what is called the suprachiasmatic nucleus located in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus.
Circadian rhythms influence sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, eating habits and digestion, body temperature, and other important bodily functions.
Remaining physically active during the coronavirus isolation is important. If you have abandoned your regular exercise regimen or are unable to jog because you do not have an indoor track in your apartment, find alternate ways to move your body. Figure 8 Dance Fitness can be found on Facebook and it is fun and easy to follow.
If you have a set of stairs in your home, do cardio workouts by walking up and down multiple times; add a full laundry basket and you have now entered the world of weight training. If you are quarantined with small children try silly dancing. You will exercise, laugh and sing all in the same workout.
Singing helps to release endorphins--the feel-good chemicals in our bodies.
Cats, Dogs, Turtles and Hogs
Okay, well not really, but sort of. Having a pet is a big responsibility and yet the returns of affection and devotion are well worth the effort. A blind study was conducted by Karen Allen, PhD at the University of Buffalo, that involved 48 stockbrokers, all of whom were on medications for hypertension. 24 were given a cat or dog to take care of.
The study concluded that the 24 brokers who cared for pets had lower heart rates and more noticeable drops in blood pressure than the other 24 participants.
Walking a dog can keep you fit and active. Pets boost your sense of self-worth because they count on you for their care. And any sized dog will help keep your floors free of crumbs and it’s hard to beat a tail-wagging vacuum cleaner.
Contributions do not always involve sending money to a charity. Everyone has some skill or talent they can share.
You do not have to be the world’s greatest guitar player to share your ability and knowledge of a guitar with someone who would like to learn how to play.
If you are fluent in a second or third language look online at places like Wyzant or Care.com where you can help a student struggling with a new language.
If you love to read, find an early reader in need of a patient listener to help them acquire the proficiency to enjoy books as much as you do. There is a joyousness in sharing with other people, and that is a great feeling.
This is the perfect era to try a new hobby, learn a new skill or spend time perfecting something that might take some valuable minutes.
Online art classes are easy to find, and crafts like knitting, cooking and sewing can all be learned at a distance. If you took music lessons as a child and loved them but did not pursue music later in life take this time to get back into it. What about the albums you wanted to listen to but never made time for?
Devote a portion of this period in isolation to listen and then create a music library for yourself.
Stay in Touch
“Call your mother” is often used in a comedic way but it is important to stay in touch with the people who love you. Physical communication is what many people miss during the stay-at-home orders.
To combat feelings of isolation, find alternative methods to convey your feelings of affection for family and friends. Use an app like Zoom to host family get-togethers or happy-hours with friends. You will be helping yourself by maintaining your relationships, and you will help friends and family know that despite physical separateness you are still together.
If you are truly having difficulties adjusting to isolation during coronavirus, find a professional that you can talk to.
There is no shame in the realization that you need a qualified person to discuss your emotions with. A mental health care professional will listen to you and give you advice about how to resolve the issues of most concern to you.
Sites like The Mayo Clinic can provide guidelines about the type of care you need and how to find a provider.
Bonus Tip: Keep doing what you had planned, when possible. What we mean by this is that you should not abandon your life plans, moving to a new apartment, planning events for next year, house-hunting, investing in your first property, or any other major life events.
Isolation will not last forever and it is important to take care of yourself during this time.