With schools closed and many businesses shut down, many of us are stuck at home during the outbreak of COVID-19. Being confined to close quarters can be stressful to many people, so I am offering five ideas to help you stay sane, positive, and emotionally fit during these uncertain times.
#1: Limit News & Social Media
I don’t believe in sticking my head in the sand, so I do check in with the news every day. However, if you are hearing the fear and panic from news and social media throughout the day, this can result in anxiety and stress. We all have this primitive part of our brain that alerts us when we sense danger, which is very helpful when we are out in the woods and may need to run for our lives. But that part of our brain is what gets triggered when we hear fearful news, and that ends up triggering stress hormones. If you are bombarded by stressful ideas all day, you will be flooded with stress both mentally and physically, and possibly compromising your immune system.
Rather than tune in all day, turn off your news, social media, and email notifications and designate two times during the day when you will engage with them. You can even set an alarm on your phone to go off when it’s time to check them. The rest of your time can be used to pursue more calming activities.
#2: Make Meaningful Connections
Find people who you care about and connect with them. There are so many platforms you can use to connect virtually–FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp. Use the video function and chat with someone you love. You could have a meal together or even play games with the video on. Schedule video chats with someone every day so that you have something to look forward to daily.
Last year, my dear friend Debby remarked that she wished she could hang out with my kids more often. I was in the throws of homeschooling, I really needed some support, and she has been a loving aunt to my kids since they were born. So we created a once-a-week video chat for Debby to connect with my younger child Aris. During their calls, they would catch up, and then Debby would read short stories while Aris worked on a puzzle. It was very sweet and also casual. Their bond grew stronger as a result of these sessions.
#3: Go Outside
Get as much fresh air as possible to clear your head and connect with nature. If you can’t go outside, open up your window and let the sun warm your skin. Look up at the sky and marvel at its expanse. I am fortunate enough to live near water, so I have been running and walking in the mornings to take in the beautiful view of the bay and all the small birds nearby. You can still maintain social distancing while enjoying the outdoors.
#4: Move Your Body
When you exercise, the benefits are manifold. You breathe in more oxygen, which can result in a boost in your mood. Your brain releases endorphins, hormones that make you feel good. You also increase your muscle tone, making you more physically fit and more energetic.
If you can’t go outside for a walk, then there are many ways to move your body indoors. Watch a YouTube video on how to do yoga, breakdancing, push-ups, pilates, and more. Or you could dance. Just put on music and dance.
Right now, a lot of yoga teachers and fitness instructors are putting their content online. My friend Ada Wells, who is a skilled physical therapist and runs a thriving studio, just began offering online classes for a reasonable monthly subscription fee. This may be the perfect opportunity for you to develop an exercise habit and get in shape.
#5: Make Music
I just wrote about the healing effects of music and how engagement in music can soothe the soul. More specifically, though, making music is even better than just listening to music. Studies have shown that the act of making music stimulates the part of the brain associated with pleasure. If you have an instrument, then play it. Or learn to play it by watching online tutorials. Singing can also be very therapeutic and calming. Don’t worry about how you sound. Find songs you like and sing like you’re in the shower.
If you like karaoke, check out YouTube, which has karaoke versions for a massive number of songs. That means you will hear everything but the vocals in a karaoke version. Plus, you will see the words on the video prompting you to sing. Simply type in the song name plus the word “karaoke” into the YouTube search box. For instance, if you want to find the karaoke video for “You’ll Be Back” from the musical Hamilton, type this in to the search box: You’ll Be Back karaoke
Here is a recap:
Let me know how you are staying sane during these times. Stay safe. Stay sane. Be well!