Updated: May 6, 2020
As we’re adjusting to our new daily lives during the Covid-19 situation here are some suggestions on how to make the present situation more bearable even enjoyable, whatever your particular experience.
Exercise – this is talked about a lot in conjunction with mental health for good reason. It works! Exercise produces happy chemicals in the brain, a natural high that stays with us for hours afterwards. Choose something you like, not something you think you should do. If you have the luxury of an outside space, a balcony, a garden or access to the countryside then take advantage of the natural light to boost vitamin D and exercise outside. Even if you only have a small space indoors, any exercise will be a bonus like dancing to some happy tunes in your kitchen.
Make and create – This is also talked about a lot regarding mental health because of the positive effect it can have on our brains as it produces dopamine. Craft has been used as rehabilitation for over a century. Again, it works! Take a moment to think about things you loved making when you were a child. There are plenty of ideas online if you’re stuck; from knitting to kneading dough for baking. It’s an opportunity to get absorbed in a task and can give us a sense of accomplishment. As well as boosting your mood, it can increase your brain’s plasticity.
Avoid over consumption – when we are in a place of fear we panic, most of us have been panic buying and stockpiling things we don’t actually need and we are over consuming. At a time when it seems our lives are reduced to being online, we are accessing media even more than before. While you may need to feel informed about what is happening in our ever-changing world, too much can lead to increased anxiety about the aspects of our life that we cannot control. Set aside a time or give a time limit to the news and social media to encourage you to be present in the space that you are in.
Be kind to yourself – we have been thrust into a new reality, forced to become experts in things we would ordinarily know little about: home-schooling, IT skills, video conferencing, baking. It is overwhelming for most of us; acknowledge that this is a challenging time and don’t expect yourself to do it all or get it all right, just do what you can. Remember to acknowledge what you are managing to achieve, however small that might seem.
Help others – If you can, helping others can give you a sense of purpose and provide meaning. You can volunteer help in simple ways; supporting food banks, shopping or picking up a prescription for a neighbour or if you cannot leave the house, you could just call someone for a chat to help you both feel connected and supported. Helping others can also increase a sense of belonging and reduce feelings of isolation. It can also help us to feel more positive about our own situation and give us a sense of perspective which may be ever-changing in our current climate.