5 Dos to Brighten Up Your Stay-at-home Experience
Staying at home, dealing with kids, and getting disrupted at work… Does that sound familiar? You are not alone! As frustrating as it sounds, staying at home is being responsible, and it helps our medical professionals fighting against COVID-19 for you and me. Keeping each other healthy and safe has been the top priority for many in the past few weeks.
When jogging in the park was no longer an option, many people started working out at home. A lot of people are paying extra attention to their diet, trying to eat healthy and nutritious. While physical health and hygiene have been frequently discussed, our mental health should not be overlooked, especially in a time like this.
In fact, psychologists and medical researchers have repeatedly shown the strong correlation between psychological stress and our immune system. If you feel extra tired recently working from home, that is probably because recent changes made you extra stressful. Research also shows that being stressed can contribute to fatigue.
Social distancing does not mean isolation; staying at home does not have to be stressful and dull.
Here are 5 Dos will relieve your daily stress, strengthen your mental health and brighten up your stay-at-home experience:
1. Maintain a Regular Routine.
Make use of your biological clock! Setting up a regular daily routine will help stabilize your biological clock. This means, try your best to get up and go to bed at the same time. Avoid naps during the day. Take your meals regularly and at the same time daily. Set times for regular activities daily, including exercising, reading, online meetings with families and friends.
These might seem like small things to do, but maintaining a stable biological clock contributes significantly to our mental health. Predictable plans and a regular routine will help us maintain our biological clock and give us the momentum to keep going.
2. Stay Social and Connected
Remember, social distancing does not equal isolation. In this difficult time, we must stay connected with our friends and families. It may take extra effort to do so remotely; you need to schedule meetings ahead of time or even try to make it part of your regular schedule. This won’t feel natural, however, it’s worth it.
Social interaction contributes greatly to our mental health. Being able to share emotions, thoughts, and feelings with others in real-time helps us relieve stress and form a community of social support. Social interactions will also reduce our risk of experiencing depressive symptoms. Research shows that the risk of depression for people who lived alone was almost 80% higher than people who did not.
3. Pamper Yourself
Staying at home was a rapid change, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Allow yourself to make a few mistakes, and accept your negative emotions and thoughts. Spending time with yourself to meditate and relax — closing your eyes and breathing deeply can help you reduce anxiety levels.
Acknowledging your thoughts and emotions is the first step, and the second step is transforming those thoughts with positive ones. A study published in the British Journal of Psychology in 2016 shows that practicing positive thinking will help you cope with stress and face difficulties better.
4. Explore Your Creativity
There is always joy in the process of creating things. The physical process of creating something can help your mind express itself. For example, the process of picking up a paintbrush and illustrating your thoughts and feelings on a blank canvas can be calming and therapeutic.
You don’t have to be artistic to be creative. Take this time to try new things such as baking, inventing a new dish, self-publishing a storybook with your kids, rearranging your living room, surprising your family with an indoor picnic, and maybe learning a new hobby.
Being creative generates a spark in your life and creates invaluable memories with your family.
5. Always Sleep Well
Good quality sleep is crucial to our mental health. During the day, stay active and get in the sun (in the garden or near a window). This will help maintain your biological clock and make sure you get sufficient melatonin at night to help you sleep well.
In the evening, there are things we can do to prepare our body for quality sleep. Avoid bright light, including screen lights; this is associated with the production of melatonin and its impact on your mood.
Simply changing some of your behaviors can improve your quality of sleep and treat insomnia. Go to your bed only when you are going to sleep. Avoid other activities on your bed like reading or watching TV. Creating a bedtime routine can also be helpful; take a hot bath and practice deep breathing to calm your body. Scented candles and sprays can also be helpful; aromatherapy has been reported to be helpful for people who suffer from insomnia.
A Better Version of You
We might not know when will we come out of this stay-at-home period, but making simple lifestyle changes to improve mental health will benefit you and your family in the long run. In the meanwhile, having strong mental health will directly strengthen your immune system to fight against COVID-19.
Use this time to make memories, stay healthy, and become a better version of you.