10 Essential Strategies for Supporting Mental Health while Staying Home

10 Essential Strategies for Supporting Mental Health while Staying Home

While collectively navigating the abrupt changes from this pandemic and its ripple effects, most people are experiencing significant alterations in lifestyle. In order to support the overall health and well-being of society, certain individuals are working harder than ever on the frontlines, while others are being forced to do their part by slowing down and staying home. Extended isolation in a confined environment is not easy and requires a level of adaptation to maintain mental and physical fitness. The following practices provide immense value in cultivating a positive mental-emotional state while staying home.

Follow a consistent daily rhythm. 

Many people are adapting to a completely different lifestyle at home, which requires setting new boundaries around unfamiliar habits. Keeping a regular schedule of sleep, meals, work, exercise, and relaxation assists in accommodating these transitions, and helps the body perceive a safety signal so the nervous system can calm down. For anyone new to working from home, this involves establishing regular mealtimes for refueling, preferably away from electronics.

Be physically active at home. 

Exercise has endless benefits on both the body and mind. Daily movement supports energy, mood, cardiovascular health, blood sugar balance, and reduces physical pain. With the closure of many indoor and outdoor exercise areas, creating a consistent routine of physical activity at home is vital in maintaining both physical and mental health. Specific ideal regimens will vary from person to person, but some options include developing a home work-out routine, incorporating squats or push-ups into each washroom break, practicing yoga, or playfully dancing to your favorite music. There are many online resources offering regular classes in yoga, pilates, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and dance. Incorporating some type of movement every day is incredibly beneficial.

Maintain social relationships. 

Social distancing takes a significant toll on interacting with those whose company we enjoy. Humans are social beings, and isolation is a very real challenge. Fortunately, there are methods of connecting that don’t require physical presence together. These are not a true replacement, but can temporarily help feed part of the social hunger during times with constraints on being physically together. People should feel encouraged to reach out to others through video calls, telephone calls, emails, texts, and social media platforms.

Take daily long breaks from the COVID-19 topic. 

Coronavirus and the changes associated with it are major sources of stress. While it’s important to stay educated and informed in order to react intelligently, it’s equally essential to not let this matter be the central focus at all times. A COVID-19 break involves avoiding related news and journal articles, social media, and discussions about the virus and its implications. Take these moments to switch focus into other parts of life that provide comfort. This might look like getting immersed in captivating reading material, music, art, comedy shows, cooking, or any other enjoyable pastimes. 

Maintain a connection with plants and nature. 

Spending time in nature is incredibly therapeutic, and current restrictions are limiting this for many people. A temporary adaptation could include acquiring some houseplants to keep at home while avoiding crowded outdoor areas. For those with an outdoor space, this is a wonderful time to start a garden, which allows for a deep connection with plants and the earth in a more socially distant way.

Take steps to actively manage stress and different emotions, which are natural reactions to being faced with change. 

One strategy is to set aside 20 minutes of dedicated relaxation time every day for practicing a technique that resonates well with you. Options include, but are not limited to meditation, deep breathing, yoga, Epsom salt baths, and progressive muscle relaxation.

Journal. 

The emotional roller coaster is real and has several stops including fear, frustration, anger, grief, and possibly eventual acceptance. Connecting with these feelings appropriately is extremely beneficial in managing their impacts on overall quality of life.

Explore inward. 

For those adjusting to a slower pace, this is a unique opportunity for introspection and inward exploration. Learning to be still with oneself in the absence of regular distraction can bring up pieces that typically stay hidden below the surface. This is a challenging activity that often isn’t prioritized, but one that has the potential to foster exceptional transformation and personal growth, which can, in turn, be expressed positively in other parts of life.

Cherish extra time with family. 

This new lifestyle may permit spending more time with those who are deeply cared for, creating an opportunity to strengthen close personal bonds. Being in close proximity while under stress can also pose challenges, making clear open communication with family members an important outlet in preventing conflict and nurturing healthy relationships.

Practice Gratitude. 

Naming 3 things you are grateful for each day creates a positive mindset that facilitates focusing on parts of life that are worth recognizing and cherishing.

Disclaimer: This information is meant to be general and for informational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult a licensed healthcare practitioner for personal medical care and prior to starting a new treatment.