As COVID-19 continues to ravage much of the world’s health systems, even those who don’t get infected are having trouble staying healthy. Research from the University of Sydney has shown that people who live in areas heavily affected by the diseases have higher levels of distress and lower levels of life satisfaction.
As the coronavirus continues to spread, more people are going to see their quality of life suffer as a result. Boosting well-being isn’t a one-size-fits-all process, but there are a few activities that can help you on your way to feeling better. Here are some of the most effective:
1. Get outside.
Sometimes it really is that simple: Just get outside. You don’t have to be doing strenuous exercise or going to new places — simply riding around on an electric bike or walking around your neighborhood can have tangible benefits on your overall well-being.
Spending as little as 20 minutes in an outdoor green space, such as a park, is enough to have a noticeable impact on your mood and mental health. With most people spending record levels of time indoors, engaging in a bit of nature can be just the variety your schedule needs.
2. Slash screen time.
A lot of people think that screen time is only a problem for kids, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In 2018, the average American spent more than 11 hours a day checking out screens — and that time can have some serious implications, ranging from troubled sleep to difficulty focusing.
Even so, cutting down on screen time is way easier said than done. Many of us need to be at our computers all day to work, and evening entertainment is more often than not found on the television. There are a number of screen time-reducing apps available, but it’s going to take some willpower on your part to keep device time to a minimum.
3. Try meditation.
Mediation has been going in and out of fashion for years now, but its ability to boost well-being is undeniable. A millenia-old method for mindfulness and relaxation, meditation is a great way to pause your hectic day and re-center your mind in a more positive direction.
As with cutting down screen time, there’s no shortage of meditation apps out there for you, but a no-tech meditation experience can be even more powerful. Set aside some time to sit, clear your head, and focus on yourself — the results can be astounding.
4. Focus on new experiences.
Staying positive during the COVID-19 pandemic is no small task, and being forced to stick to an endless routine can make it even more difficult. Your favorite restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues may be closed for now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find new ways to keep things interesting.
Don’t just binge the same show for the fifth time — watch something out of your comfort zone for once. If you’re a walker or runner, try new paths or neighborhoods for doing your exercise. Making an effort to have at least one new experience every single day can add some much-needed spice to your lockdown routine and make it far more bearable.
5. Sleep right.
Everyone knows that sleep has an impact on well-being, but few understand just how powerful it really can be. World-famous economist Daniel Kahneman found that the night before’s sleep is the single biggest factor in determining a person’s mood on a certain day.
Establishing a healthy sleep schedule should be one of the first steps in making long-term improvements to your well-being. Set a hard limit on when you go to bed each night, and try to stay off screens for as long as possible beforehand. The blue light from smartphones can lead to restless and unhealthy sleep.
6. Exercise your way.
There are more ways to exercise than ever, but don’t feel pressured to hop on the newest trend — half-heartedly signing up for P90X will likely produce half-hearted results. Figure out the forms of exercise that excite you the most, and build a workout regimen around those.
With many gyms closed, no-weight exercises are becoming increasingly popular, as are in-home exercise systems like Peloton. Whatever method works for you, do that — consistent, long-term exercise habits are far more beneficial to the body than the short, intense spurts that many trendy workout regimens inspire.
Quality-of-life boosts can be difficult to pin down, but you always know them when you see them. Try a few of the options on this list to see what sticks — this time has been difficult for everyone, and focusing on your own personal well-being should be right at the top of your list.