With restaurants shutting up shop, sporting venues closing their doors, and streets getting quieter by the day, the experts at the frontline fighting the coronavirus pandemic are urging everyone to stay at home.
But with more of us spending time indoors for both work and play, all that self-isolating is taking a toll on our mental health.
But Dr. Suzy Green, author of The Positivity Prescription ($27, Amazon) and CEO and founder of The Positivity Institute, says that we need to prioritize our mental wellbeing and there are three strategies to do so, according to science.
Experts advise us to stick to a routine when it comes to day-to-day activities, incorporating a mix of work and/or school, as well as fun and games.
Dr. Green also has three specific areas we can focus on, that can help improve our mental well-being during this time.
Even though there are various forms of meditation, any one of these is a great way to practice mindfulness. Apps like Calm, 1GiantMind, Headspace, Smiling Mind, and Insight Timer can help guide you through the process.
“Meditation practice can give your mind a rest from the constant chatter and ‘catastrophizing’ that it might be doing right now,” she explains.
“Research has found that people who are grateful for what they have, rather than what they don’t have, experience elevated levels of psychological wellbeing.
And it doesn’t have to be difficult, simply identify (or write down) three to five things that you are grateful for right now, like a roof over your head, food on the table, and loved ones supporting you,” Dr. Green says.
Writing down your thoughts and feelings may not sound like your cup of tea, but it can be quite therapeutic, as being in self-isolation tends to bring on those negative and irrational thoughts.
“If these thoughts go round and round in your head, you can believe them to be true!” Dr. Green says. “Writing down your thoughts allows you to consider them a little more rationally and perhaps choosing to think differently about the situation, allowing you to feel a little more hopeful about taking positive action.”
Self-isolating at home can be particularly tough for parents, who have to manage home-schooling their kids on top of their job, looking after the house, and whatever else is thrown their way.
But Dr. Green says that clarity and keeping a greater goal in mind can help during these unprecedented times.
“Create a daily schedule for you, your kids and your family,” she suggests, adding that it may help to explain to your kids the reasons behind staying at home and why they’re not going to school.
“As a family, determine what your core life values are — write these down and put them on your fridge to remind you — and when things get tense or tough, it’s a good reminder as to why as a family you’ve committed to.”
Others who are at risk are those with pre-existing mental health conditions, as well as those trapped in a violent relationship.
Thankfully, there is a multitude of online and phone resources for those struggling, and Dr. Green advises people suffering to seek out help from a professional psychologist or other mental health professional.
“If you’re someone who’s been hesitant to seek help and the COVID situation has led to you feeling more anxious or depressed, don’t hesitate — now is the time to reach out for professional help,” she says.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Now to Love