By Brittany Newland
You’ve had a really long few months, and it’s still not necessarily over yet. Thinking about how to protect your mental health during quarantine is still very relevant, but it’s time to start considering what you can do for your mental health when quarantine is over.
Now is a good time to reflect on all that you have learned during this time of being home, alone with your thoughts, maybe developing new habits and ways to cope with isolation, away from friends and family. So what did you do to get through? What did you learn about yourself during this historic and unusual time? And what will you do moving forward once things return to a more non-isolated, social atmosphere?
Not forgetting what was learned through times of isolation and self-reflection and some mental hurdles that were probably faced having to stay in, it’s also good to keep in my mind the many ways to improve your mental health when quarantine is over. Here are 10 tips to consider:
1. Visit Friends + Socialize.
It’s easy to get used to your own ways of doing things, especially alone. Although being alone can be a great thing for self-awareness and productivity, it’s also very healthy to be around others. Socializing helps your mental health by fighting off feelings of loneliness, sharpens memory and cognitive skills, and increases your sense of happiness and well-being. Don’t forget about your friends. You need them, and they need you.
This is a no-brainer. You’ve probably gotten a lot of exercise during quarantine, but it’s important to remember to keep this up. Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression and negative moods, and improves self-esteem and cognitive function.
If you haven’t tried this before, it’s never too late to start. Meditation reduces stress, depression and anxiety. It is used to help manage your thoughts and feelings by making you more aware of them, instead of being overwhelmed by them. This is often said to be a great practice before bed.
4. Spend Time with Family.
Family just feels like home. It’s natural to keep developing ties and bonds with your family. Spending time together ensures a deep, strong bond emotionally and brings out common hobbies, which increases happiness. Being present with loved ones creates strong emotional support to help you with many life challenges, boosts self-confidence and lowers risk of behavioral problems.
5. Participate in Outdoor Activities.
Ever hear of getting outside and smelling the roses? Whether it’s being out in nature for a walk, playing a sports game, or even gardening, don’t forget about nature. Being outdoors automatically lifts your mood, lowers anxiety and increases cognitive function. This may also help your creativity levels, as well.
6. Delete Social Media.
This is, of course, optional, but could work wonders for your mental health. Right now, social media is a way of getting instant information in a social form online, it could even be your news source. With misinformation easily out there, and so much emotion (good and bad), it can be a very good thing to unplug for a while, reducing stress and letting your brain take that much more of a break.
7. Form Healthy Eating Habits.
Working from home (and relying on comfort food and snacks more than ever) could be quite the change from the norm. With gyms closed for so long, it’s really time to focus on healthy eating habits. A habit is formed by doing something repeatedly over a period of time. Put down the Cheetos and other snack habits you formed out of confusion and stress, and get back to the basics and who you were before.
8. Build A Routine.
The “new normal” for you might be working in gym shorts and a tank top, or not eating breakfast every day. Or just simply doing things completely different because of the new adjustments you were making based on all things quarantine—no gym, no drive to work, etc. Now is the time to build a routine. Get back to the time when you had a pattern of productivity, whatever that means for you. If you’re still working from home, take a lunch break, don’t forget to breakfast, still get dressed like you would going to work. Get up at the same time you would every day. Don’t roll out of bed 10 minutes before you need to turn the computer on. Times have changed and you got this.
9. Establish a Healthy Balance with Your Family.
Whether you have kids and or a significant other who lives with you in your home and you’ve made all sorts of adjustments working from home with them there, or you’re single and haven’t seen your parents, aunts, uncles, or siblings in a while, it’s important to remember the balance. Don’t go long periods without talking or seeing them, but also know if you’ve spent quite a bit more time than usual that it’s okay to take some time for yourself to create a good balance.
10. Work/Life Balance.
This term is always thrown around so loosely. Working from home and always having a computer at your side sometimes makes it hard to not work longer hours than need be. With that being said, this could also mean the opposite for you. Working from home, especially if you’ve never done it before, can be quite the distraction. Know when to put forth all of your mental energy and focus and then know when to quit. This can be one of the hardest juggling acts in this new (for a lot of people) WFH environment.