Maintaining good mental health in a pandemic

Lifestyle Sports | Lifestyle
Photo by Josh Ngenda

Things, to say the very least, are stressful at the moment. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the rapid-fire news cycle and feel frustrated, afraid, and like everything is out of your control. It’s also easy to lose your motivation for your remaining school assignments. Here are some suggestions to help us all take a collective breath for a moment and try to stay focused, for both the end of the school term and the upcoming future.

1. Keep a schedule

If you’re having trouble staying motivated with schoolwork, keeping a schedule is a simple way to get back on track. Put some time away just for assignments like you would for classes. Make a meal at a specific time. Get dressed, or at the very least, change out of your pyjamas. If you’re the type of person who really needs the structure of school, the empty time can hurt your mental health. Also think about a sleep schedule: wake up and go to sleep at roughly the same times. Keeping a schedule of any kind helps you both keep track of time and stay set on a routine in these uncertain times. 

2. Stay in contact with friends/family

If you’re feeling a little stir crazy, don’t hesitate to reach out to somebody for some contact. If you have a group of friends, consider Skyping them. Try setting up a movie night over Skype, Zoom, Discord, or another video-calling platform. Don’t hesitate to call anyone either. Especially with social isolation, we need to stay in contact with the people we love. If you have older relatives, give them a shout too, they may need someone to talk to as well.

3. Take a break from social media

Seriously. You can waste so much time just scrolling through feeds. One minute you’re checking Twitter, the next, it’s three hours later. Give yourself a break, turn off your Internet if you need to, and step away from things for a bit. Monitor your exposure to COVID-19 news and updates. It can get really stressful with all the new updates, so try limiting yourself to maybe 10 minutes a day so you don’t get overwhelmed with the new daily updates about the virus.

4. Exercise

If you have enough space to lay down on your floor, you have enough space to exercise. Even if you have limited space, you can still do push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, burpees, squats, and so on. If you jog or bike, you can do that as well. But if you’re stuck inside, you can easily do a workout in your bedroom. Regardless of the space you have available, exercise is a good way to burn off stress.

5. Make sure you have something to do

Get an activity arsenal: gather all the books, movies, TV shows, hobbies, etc. that you’ve been falling behind on. If you’re done school, or need a break from your assignments, you can work on those watch/read lists. Give yourself a chore list and clean up your place a bit. Do some cooking or baking. Work on that hobby from before life got too busy. Or try something new! Either way, try making a list and get to work!

6. Get outside if you can

If you’re not quarantined, try going outside for a short walk around the block. Get out of the house for a while and get some new scenery. Just walking around after being cooped inside all day can really help give yourself a breath of fresh air (no pun intended).

7. Focus on what you can control

Don’t worry about the fate of the world at large. Focus on what you can do. Work on those final assignments. Practice physical distancing. Clean up your place. Make sure you’re eating well. Drink some water. Look after yourself.

8. It’s okay to grieve your losses

You know what, it sucks that that one event you were looking forward to got cancelled. It sucks about your job. It sucks about school. It sucks that everything is up in the air. And it’s okay. Give yourself a moment to let it all out.

9. Listen to the experts

Follow the orders and advice of public health experts. They know what they’re doing. There is a general consensus on how to stop the spread of COVID-19. Wash your hands, practice social distancing, cough into a Kleenex or your shoulder, isolate yourself for two weeks if you have symptoms. Be sure to check out the official Health Canada website to avoid fear-mongering headlines.

10. Be patient

This will pass. It may take a while to do so, but we will see the end of it.

Stay safe out there.