If you’ve been inside for days on end amid the COVID-19 pandemic, you are probably feeling a little stir-crazy. Trying to work from home, overseeing children at home, cooking meals, keeping your home in some semblance of order, and worrying about everyone being safe definitely puts a toll on your mind and body. There are some easy and different ways to take a break and center yourself that will help restore your sanity and even keep you feeling happy and optimistic.
Take a Time Out for Yourself
Time outs are often used to calm and reset a child who is upset and out of control. Well, why not use a time out to help yourself reset and relax? It doesn’t have to be a long time, even five or ten minutes can do the trick. Perhaps, in between client calls, take a few minutes to step outside and look at the sky, breathe in the fresh air and enjoy looking at a flower. If that is not possible, walk into another room and look at a photo or piece of art on the wall. Be sure to take some deep breaths and imagine your body letting go of stress and tension. Hydrate yourself with cool water steeped with cucumber slices to feel refreshed.
Short Term Activities
Taking a few minutes to complete a short task can help reset your focus and also make you feel good about completing a task. Dump out your purse or tote and do a quick sorting of its contents, tossing garbage and removing items that do not belong there. Put everything else back inside in an organized fashion. You will feel a sense of accomplishment and when you are feeling overwhelmed, you can look inside your purse and reclaim control. Many women enjoy doodling or coloring. Break out your adult coloring book or draw a pattern and color it in. Studies have shown that structured coloring of a reasonably complex geometric pattern can lead to a meditative state and reduce anxiety, even for a short period of time. For those of you who are crafters, taking a break to crochet, or do stamping to create greeting cards can produce that same meditative state. Clicking on that adorable video on YouTube can also activate your emotional system in a positive way. Feeling the joy of seeing those puppies can give you bursts of dopamine that boost your spirits. Picking up your current book and reading a chapter or two while having a nice cup of tea (hot or iced) is also a way to disconnect from your current world and jump into the one you are reading about.
Enhance Your Daily Chores
Cleaning the house can be overwhelming and feel futile, since you know it will be a mess again soon. But if you enhance the process by listening to your favorite music, it can make the task more enjoyable. A study on cancer patients found that music reduced anxiety and pain, while bolstering people’s moods. If you like to sing, go ahead and belt out those lyrics, even if your voice is not like Adele’s. For some of us, the rhythmic movement, the white noise of the vacuum and the path marks it leaves on the rug help relieve anxiety and gives a feeling of calm. People often enjoy singing while they cook, especially if they have had a tough day. Singing has been shown to improve people’s mental health and sense of belonging. So plug in your speaker and loudly sing along with the soundtrack of Hamilton or your favorite Beyoncé tracks.
Call, text, email or video chat with your friends and family. Just because you’re socially distancing doesn’t mean that you can’t connect. Research has shown that social support can make you more resilient to stress. If the person doesn’t answer, leave him or her a little “love note” letting them know that you are thinking of them. That minute of thinking about a friend when you are feeling alone or stressed reminds you that you are loved and can make you feel better.
If you can carve out a half hour in your day, take a walk or jog around the neighborhood. The first 15 minutes will help your body stretch and loosen up and the next 15 minutes will help your mind relax. The endorphins released will help you continue to feel upbeat even after the exercise and will also help you sleep better at night so you get that all important seven to eight hours of sleep per night. A 2016 study found that walking can make you happier and reduce feelings of boredom and dread, even if you’re just walking indoors on a treadmill. Yoga is also a great way to get rid of the stiffness in your back from sitting at the computer, as well as boosting your mood and your self-esteem. There are several online yoga classes to explore from the comfort of your own home on YouTube and other channels. It is essential to stay calm and focus on your physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing as best you can. It not only helps you, but helps those you live with. If you follow some of these simple steps, you will come out of this crisis successfully or at least with your mental health intact.