Let’s face it. The world as we knew it has changed with covid-19. We are now in the era of social distancing. Non-essential workers are spending more and more time cooped up at home with little or no social interactions. Essential workers who still go to offices still have to maintain their distance from colleagues to stay safe. No doubt, this sudden shift in lifestyle is affecting people globally. Many people are suffering from increased levels of anxiety, lethargy and depression as a result. Many people have suffered different kinds of losses – deaths of loved ones, loss of jobs or collapse of businesses etc.
In a time like this, it is very important to be intentional about how you spend your time, and how you care for yourself both mentally and physically. Here are a few tips from experts on managing yourself in all aspects.
- Curate and Limit the News You Consume
While It is important for us to get news updates on what is happening around the world, it is important to select carefully what you consume. I would suggest quality over quantity. Pick a few reputable and trustworthy sites and official platforms for covid-19 related news. Avoid gossip sites and platforms that aggregate every information they find without fact checking. News helps us stay informed, but we need to set limits on how much we watch so that we focus on other activities and allow our body to rest.
- Get Active!
I can tell you from experience that lying in bed all day will worsen your mental state. With the levels of anxiety and lethargy any are experiencing, it might feel easier to just lay in bed and ignore the world. Easier is not always healthier. There are a few things you can do while social distancing e.g. reading, writing, cooking, baking, journaling, drawing, dancing, karaoke, meditating,organizing your home, or DIY projects. It is also important to go outside and take walks or runs, while still maintaining social distance. You can also do home exercises if you’re unable to go to the gym anymore. There are hundreds of videos online with home workout tutorials you can use. If getting active for you means taking part in online video challenges, by all means, go for it.
- Nourish Your Relationships
Your friendships, connections and relationships do not need to suffer because of a lack of physical relations. Take some time to stay connected with texts, phone calls and video calls with your loved ones as well as other important relations like professional or spiritual ones. Conversation can be very therapeutic and spending time with people you like, or love may provide healing and solidarity during these difficult times. You will be surprised at how much better you can feel after sharing a laugh with an old friend or colleague you haven’t spoken to in a while. Other virtual ways to remain connected include playing games together or watching movies together. However, don’t feel like you have to overdo it or feel pressured to reach out, as that can stress both you and the other party, thereby defeating the purpose.
- Learn Something New
If you suddenly have a lot of free time and feel like you have nothing to do with all that time, how about you learn something new? You can register for a free or paid course on sites like Coursera or Udemy; you can learn a new language on Duolingo; you can watch documentaries on Netflix or YouTube; you can read a ‘how to’ book; you can tune into one of the numerous virtual masterclasses that professionals are holding. There’s an endless number of things you can learn during this period. Just make sure to pick something you are truly interested in, so it does not feel like a chore.
- Establish a Healthy Routine
With almost everything that is familiar changing rapidly, creating a routine or a schedule can help you keep a hold on things. Establish a routine for yourself or your family if you are in charge. Set your wake-up time, exercise time, work time, mealtimes, and break times. Take regular baths as you would normally. Cold showers can get you out of a mental funk. It may be tempting to sleep in and eat ice cream or drink wine for breakfast, but it might have an effect on you mentally and increase your feelings of stress. It’s best to stick to a consistent sleep schedule and avoid oversleeping.
- Seek Professional Help
If you are having high levels of lethargy, depression, anxiety or any other mental health troubles due to isolation or social distancing, then consider seeking professional help from a psychologist. There are options for virtual sessions, and a Nigerian NGO, Mentally Aware, offers free virtual mental health support.
- Remember You Are Not Alone
When you feel dismayed, remember that the pandemic is global, and billions of people feel the same way you do. Simply knowing we’re not alone can reduce feelings of loneliness, so when you experience those feelings, remind yourself others are, too. And together, we will get through this.
Phidelia is a writer and communications manager based in Lagos. She loves chopping life, and spends her free time thinking of new ways to enjoy life. Tweet at her @the_phidelia if you enjoyed reading this.