Since COVID-19 was first introduced as a pandemic, information about this novel virus has been flooding our inboxes and newsfeeds. This flooding of information can be overwhelming; what information about COVID-19 is accurate? What’s fake news? How is this going to affect me? Should I be concerned and if so, what should be my biggest concerns? With all of these questions comes growing anxiety and concerns around our mental health as we shelter in our homes for the next few weeks. Here are a few tips to help you stay positive and mentally healthy during these stressful times.
Get Outside and Smell the Roses
Just because we have been told to be socially distant and limit our interactions with others doesn’t mean we are locked inside with no access to the outdoors. Studies have shown that spending time outdoors can lower your heart rate and reduce cortisol levels (1), which can both improve your stress levels and decrease anxiety. You will also get the benefits of vitamin D from the sun that will stay in your body longer than if you took an ingestible vitamin (2). Since spring is already here, maybe get outside and plant a garden so that you can really smell the roses or even get some fresh vegetables from it. Who doesn’t get a smile seeing the fruits of their labor?
Learn Something New
Learning isn’t just something children do, it’s something that we should all be doing for an entire lifetime. Not only does continuing to learn lead to higher levels of optimism, but it stimulates our minds and gives us a feeling of better overall life satisfaction too (3). Just think about how proud you were of yourself when you finally figured out that challenging sudoku puzzle or helped your child with their geometry homework. Learning helps us better develop ourselves and it’s something we should never stop doing. Take this extra time at home to learn something new: cooking, meditating, sewing, mindfulness, gardening, the possibilities really are endless.
Take Breaks from the News and Social Media
It seems like something new comes up every day with this virus and that only creates more stress with the changing guidelines. As we work on transitioning to working from home with our spouses and our children present, take some time to unplug from all the incoming information. Whether it’s an hour before bedtime, 30 minutes every couple of hours throughout the day, or even simply not checking your phone when you first wake up, take some time to unplug. This digital detox can have a positive effect on your well-being and your overall mood. Make the most of this break from technology by:
- Meditating – Clear your mind of all those negative thoughts.
- Foster Relationships – Cherish the extra time you have been given with your family members and talk to them without the disruption of technology.
- Get Outside – Spring is here, the flowers are blooming, and taking the time to enjoy that fresh air will do your body some good and help you refocus on what is really important.
Rachel Thaut, Wellness Strategy Manager at Vitality, has a Bachelors degree from the University of Iowa where she focused on Health Promotion studies. Combined with a background in account management, personal training, fitness instruction and being a gymnast for over 18 years, she has found the perfect fit at Vitality. She loves cooking, traveling, and spending time outside with her son and baby boy on the way when not at work.