The point of the quarantine is to be proactive in protecting other, more vulnerable populations. This is an act of love.
It's Day One for me of our 2020 Quarantine and I'm already in need of a plan to protect my sanity. We live in a society that struggles with sitting still as it is (I'm totally guilty of this too) and the idea of needing to be at home for the foreseeable future is scary. So I'm putting together a list of things that I plan to do to protect my mental health and make the best of a tough situation.
**Before I dive into my tips, can I please point out that I am not quaranteening myself out of FEAR. Quite the opposite. The point of the quarantine is to be proactive in protecting other, more vulnerable populations. This is an act of love. It would be selfish of me to try to keep on with business as usual. We have to protect elderly people at all cost.**
10 Tips to support your mental health during quarantine:
1- Keep a schedule.
I'm an Enneagram 3 so this is probably more important for me than for some others, but having a routine to structure my day is so important. If I sleep in, my whole day is off. If I don't know what I'm supposed to do, I feel lost. So I'm setting my alarm every morning, getting dressed and putting on makeup, eating meals at regular times, and I have an end time to my work day. Even if it's earlier than normal, there needs to be a time that you are "done" for the day just like any other day.
2- Make a To-Do list.
This keeps me on track for the day and helps me prioritize my time. For those that are scrambling with more work than is feasible to do in a day or for those that have found themselves homeschooling (prayers up for you guys!)- make a list of what needs to be done for the day, do it, and then log off (physically and mentally). I know everyone's situation is different right now, but please protect your mental health by setting boundaries wherever you can.
3-Do things you have been putting off.
For those of you that are not overwhelmed with work and you are trying to find ways to fill your time- tackle the things you have been procrastinating on. It's the perfect time! Imagine how good it will feel to have those things off of your plate when things do go back to "normal." So Spring Clean, do the home project, clear out your inbox, etc. You will be so glad you did.
4-Remind yourself that downtime is okay.
Like I said, we live in a culture that values being busy. We'll sleep when we're dead. The grind never stops. And let me tell you- we are paying a high price for it. Maybe this is a good time to re-evaluate how we view downtime and embrace the NEED for mental health care. I encourage everyone to play around with some sort of daily quiet time such as journaling, meditation, or reading. If you find it difficult to sit in silence, I am going to venture to say you have some level of underlying anxiety and now is a good time to address it.
If you want to learn what constant stress is doing to your body, I recommend the book Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers by Robert M. Sapolsky.
5-Check on others.
"Social distancing" doesn't mean social isolation. Use this time to check on those that you love. Reconnect with an old friend. Offer assistance to an elderly neighbor. We have so much technology that allows us to continue to get our social needs met but you have to be proactive!
6- Help others.
We all have different challenges to work through here, but it's important to be aware that many people aren't just being "inconvenienced" right now. People are actually suffering. This is yet another example of how people living in poverty take the biggest hit and are so vulnerable. There are many creative ways to show love and support here! Find a local charity to donate to, use your power to ease the burdens of others (can you waive late fees? Delay evictions? Give your employees extra PTO?), offer to grocery shop for elderly neighbors so that they don't expose themselves to public places. Anything you can do will help. And side note- there's plenty of research that shows volunteering is good for YOUR mental health- so you are helping yourself out as you help others.
7-Find the good in the bad.
I think this is so important. Focusing on the good doesn't mean living under a rock and minimizing the importance of what's going on. It is reminding yourself that EVERYTHING is not bad and it never is. Find some way to focus on what good things are happening. I personally am relying on memers for this right now and can't stop laughing when I scroll IG. And I need that.
At this point we really don't know what the future holds. I'm hopeful and optimistic that we will not be quarantined for months (I am also PRAYERFUL for this- can we all agree that this needs to be happening daily?) Regardless of how long this last, let's all pace ourselves. If you knock out every project and to-do list in the first week, you are setting yourself up for a breakdown later on. If you let your mind run away with panic that this could last all summer, you could cause unnecessary anxiety. Let's all try to take it a day at a time.
9-Move and hydrate.
Please move and hydrate. Do a home workout. Stretch. Drink water. Care for your body.
10- Remember, everyone is different.
Please be kind to others. Everyone is having a different experience with this. People can't visit their loved ones in nursing homes. People are struggling to find daycare options. People are being furloughed and don't know how they are going to pay bills. People are working overtime to keep shelves stocked. People are in recovery and have limited access to support.
We all need different things at this time but what nobody needs is to be judged, yelled at, or told they aren't handing this correctly. You are not an expert on other people and neither am I.
This is MY list- I hope you take the time to make your own according to your circumstance, personality, and family situation. This is a chance we have to all be in this together and show love to our fellow human. And if there is any way that I can support you- please reach out. I'm happy to do what I can.
With so much love,