Coronavirus is spreading all over the world. Many states have issued shelter-in-place orders to slow the spread of COVID-19, and this can’t be easy for the many parents that have been forced to stay inside and care for their children, or even work from home!
Protecting your mental health is just as important as your physical health - and here’s how.
It’s impossible to avoid the news. From social media to news broadcast on television, people everywhere are talking about COVID-19. All aspects of life have been impacted, from healthcare to the economy, and people are fearful of the unknown. We’ve been told that practicing social distancing can have a great impact on slowing the spread of coronavirus, but it can also be a very isolating and challenging time for many.
In order to protect your mental health during this time of uncertainty, it is vital to also distance yourself from the bad news. Here are some ways you can protect your mind from becoming trapped in anxiety and stress.
1. Create a routine.
Experts advise sticking to a normal routine, as much as possible. If you are working from home, continue to set an alarm in the morning, and get up, get dressed, and eat breakfast as you normally would. Set boundaries on specific “work hours” and separate this from times of rest and relaxation. If you have school-aged children at home, set “school hours” and work on classwork during those hours only. Try to have your kids continue to wake up at the same time, and follow their typical daily routine.
If you are quarantined in your home, schedule time for breaks. Get up and do some stretching or go on a walk around your neighborhood. Even if you just walk up and down the stairs a few times, this can be enough to give your mind a break. Scheduling periodic breaks can improve your concentration and overall mood.
2. Calm your mind.
Practice daily meditation or breathing exercises. Avoid grabbing your phone first when you wake up in the morning, or mindlessly scrolling through news articles before you fall asleep. Stay away from the media hype and ground yourself in facts.
Yoga can be a wonderful way to center your mind and body. There are many free yoga videos available online. Yoga helps you connect your mind and body and stay grounded. You can also try downloading a guided meditation app for your smartphone.
3. Call a friend.
You might not be able to see your friends and family, but you can still keep in touch. Call friends and family members and try to keep in contact with people as much as you can. Don’t feed into each other’s anxieties, but instead focus on the positives. Reach out to others when you are feeling anxious or depressed. Maintain a sense of community and stay connected with those around you. If you’re not already a part of our community of parents on Facebook, under the group KeaBabies Love, we’d love to have you join!
4. Care for your physical health.
One of the best things you can do for your immune system is to care for your body physically and mentally. Get enough sleep, wash your hands, and eat nutritious foods. During a time when grocery shopping can be much more of a hassle than usual, try your best to avoid endless snacking and binging on junk food. Consider setting up a food delivery, so you can still have healthy food without risking going to the store. Maintaining a healthy body can help you maintain a healthy mind.
Continue to exercise, as this can greatly improve your mood. Outdoor exercise is preferable if the weather allows. Remain a safe distance from others, but go on a walk around your neighborhood or find a pretty hiking trail to try. Getting your body moving can help you feel happier and more at peace. It might also help you feel more connected with the outside world!
5. Create new projects.
Now is the time to start a new craft project, do some home renovation, or rearrange bedroom furniture! Maybe you’ve wanted time to start a new book, or pick up a new hobby like running, baking, or writing poetry. The more you can keep yourself busy, set timelines for projects, and reach goals, the better your mentality will be!
6. Carve out time for self-care.
It’s always important for parents to take time for self-care - now more than ever. Whether it’s taking a warm bath at the end of the day, taking 30 minutes to do a yoga routine, spending time journaling each morning, or practicing daily meditations, it’s important to take time to do things that boost your mood. Other ideas for self-care are cooking, organizing, painting your nails, dyeing your hair, or picking up a new book. No matter how busy you are during the day, take time for yourself daily.
Trying these ideas can protect both your physical health and your mental health. If you are feeling depressed or uncontrollably anxious, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional.
Parenting is awesome. Sleep is overrated. Every day is an adventure.