Why Is Mental Health Important Right Now?
Your mental health may be the last thing on your mind as the COVID-19 virus overtakes almost all spheres of life. It's quite literally everywhere, isn't it? From social media, to the news, school, work and family life. With this constant barrage of information, it can be difficult to maintain a clear, positive mindset, which can lead to excess anxiety. If you are practicing self-isolation at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, loneliness and boredom may also set in.
But, you needn't feel despair over your current situation, as there are tons of ways to keep entertained, find new hobbies and engage in meaningful conversations through various online platforms. Embrace the gift of modern technology in the face of this global challenge and perhaps enjoy some time spent alone. Now is the perfect opportunity to be creative and do the things you love, that you may not usually have time for. Here are a few examples of how you can take advantage of self-isolation to benefit your mental health:
A New Hobby
If you are not working remotely during this time, isolation can quickly become tedious. So, why not take up a new hobby or pick up an old one that you may have neglected? There is a lot you can do from the comfort and safety of your own home to keep boredom and stress at bay. If you have arts and craft materials on hand, get busy doodling. Or, write in that forgotten journal. Expressing your fears on paper is a wonderful way of relieving stress and clearing your mind. For a few more at-home hobby ideas, click here.
Have you been meaning to get around to watching the latest episode of your favourite show or finishing that book you started months ago? This is the ideal time to sit back and relax a bit, so get busy watching, listening or reading as soon as you can! Once you have binge-watched all the latest series or rewatched your old favourites, why not show some support to the arts industry by taking a virtual tour of a museum or live streaming performances from around the world? Artists are in dire need of your efforts at the moment, so do something good by showing solidarity and becoming an engaged viewer.
Staying in the moment is key at this point to maintaining good mental health and a positive outlook. Don't let your thoughts get the better of you by spiraling into all the 'what ifs' of the COVID-19 pandemic. You may want to detach from all social media and news for at least a few hours a day to avoid this, or better yet, practice mindfulness exercises to help you process information without becoming too overwhelmed. If you have never practiced mindfulness before, there are a number of apps and inspiring podcasts to help get you started.
Gyms are a no-go zone at the moment. If exercise is part of your mental health care routine, you may want to consider some at-home exercises rather than risk a visit to the gym. Whether you are a dedicated yogi, spinner or weight lifter, there are tons of high intensity workouts that you can do from home without any extra equipment. Perhaps you have been putting off going to the gym because of a busy schedule? This may be the perfect time to find a workout routine that works for you. It can be as simple as going for a brisk walk around your garden or playing fetch with Fido. Exercise is proven to increase those 'happy' hormone levels, so get moving!
Cook Up A Storm
Taking care of your body is just as important as your mind in the face of COVID-19. Medical professionals recommend upping your vitamin and mineral intake to boost your immune system, so get out those veggies and start cooking up a storm. As the weather is taking a cooler turn, whip up a few winter warmers to lift your spirits and fill your belly. If food resources are looking a little scarce where you are, check out our guide to creating tasty meals with the last of your pantry staples.
Cooking is known to be a soothing exercise, so do as much of it as you can while in isolation. Never cooked a thing in your life before? Make it your new hobby and teach yourself the ways of the kitchen using handy online resources.
A little pampering never hurt anybody. Treating yourself to a little 'me time' while under isolation is a great way to generate calmness and a sense of renewal. Whether you choose to give yourself a DIY mani-pedi, or a soothing face mask, taking extra care of yourself is pivotal during this period. If your usual self-care routine involves meeting up with friends, organise a virtual coffee date. Laughter is also a simple remedy to quell the blues. Turn self-isolation into a fun challenge that you can post online. These kinds of challenges have been popping up over social media from people under lockdown world over. Join in and spread a little joy to others in need.
Please contact the South African Government COVID-19 WhatsApp service by sending the word “HI” to 0600 123 456 on WhatsApp for accurate and up to date information on the coronavirus. You can also reach out to SADAG for online counselling and self-help tips if you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Keep well!