Coronavirus (COVID-19): Tips for taking care of your mental and physical wellness
We spoke to the leader of our mental health specialists, Dr. Georgia Pomaki, about how we can reduce anxiety in this stressful time – and stay healthy and in good spirits.
Staying home is our best protection from coronavirus. But isolating ourselves can take a toll on our health in other ways, whether it’s coping with social distancing and anxiety-inducing news cycles, or not going to the gym, eating “comfort foods” and watching too much TV.
Here are Dr. Georgia Pomaki’s top tips for physical and mental wellbeing:
Establish a new routine
When normal routines are interrupted, we tend to fall back on bad habits: eating unhealthy, going to bed late, watching too much TV, not exercising. Instead of giving in to chaos, accept that your old routine isn’t possible right now and come up with a new one.
Decide when you’ll get up, when you’ll start work, if you’re now working from home – but also when you will exercise, eat lunch, end your work day, spend time with your kids, have dinner, and how much time you’ll spend watching TV or scrolling through social media.
Limit your exposure to media
Yes, you want to stay informed. But watching the news all day or constantly checking social media is enough to make anyone anxious.
Consciously decide how much exposure you can handle (and when) and stick to that. Checking the news right before you go to bed can be anxiety-inducing and prevent you from sleeping well.
“It’s better if you go to the news instead of letting it come to you,” says Georgia. “Otherwise you’ll always be in panic mode and having your body in constant stress response is very hard on you, both physically and mentally. Take your news in smaller doses.”
To reduce stress further, limit yourself to reliable sources, like the CDC.
Find ways to have fun
The world around us feels pretty negative right now. Adding a little positivity can really help:
- Go for a walk with your immediate family or play a board game together.
- Read a great book (or re-read a favourite).
- Have a virtual coffee with a friend.
- Spend time on a hobby you enjoy, tune into a funny show, watch standup comedy, tell jokes, share funny memes.
Use technology to stay connected
Being totally disconnected from other people can take a mental toll. So, while you can’t go out for coffee or have a birthday party right now, you can still talk on the phone – and chat face to face on Skype, Google Hangouts, Facetime, etc.
And reach out to someone who might be feeling particularly isolated – it’s a great way to help others (and yourself) feel less lonely.
Take care of your body
Eat right, drink water and get exercise.
Yes, the gym is closed and classes are cancelled. But that doesn’t mean you can’t go for a walk, run or sweat it out at home. Download a fitness app or search YouTube for a routine that doesn’t require much equipment. Or if you do have equipment handy, set up a little home gym.
And remember, exercising doesn’t just build muscle, it helps you release endorphins – those feel-good hormones you need right now.