Being in quarantine has been tough for everyone, and it can be hard to stay positive. I am very appreciative of the situation I’m in, and I’m here to support people who are struggling. There are some things you can do to try to stay positive and improve your mental health. Give them a try and let me know how you get on.
1. Keep Busy
I find that the times when I feel the most fed up and down are the times when I’m ‘bored’ or don’t know what to do. If I’m up and doing things, then I feel a lot better. It’s great to distract yourself by doing an activity (or even a chore). It also helps by giving your brain some stimulation! Try to do things you enjoy. Do them on your own or with the people you live with – whatever makes you feel better.
There are plenty of things to do in quarantine if you have a think about it. Use your imagination to come up with some cool things to do. It could be something simple, like reading or doing a wordsearch. Or it could be something more out of the box like building a den or starting a YouTube channel. This isn’t to say that you have to be on the go 24/7, but if you feel like you have things to do, then it will make a big difference to your outlook on the situation.
Try making a list of things you want to do, and then each day, you can just choose a couple of them. Whenever you think of a new idea, you can add it to the list so that you’ve always got a few options to choose from.
2. Don’t put pressure on yourself
“It’s OK to not be OK”
Staying positive and upbeat during these tough times can be a struggle, and it’s OK to acknowledge that. We all have down days and days where we just want to go out and be back to normal. It’s important to accept that we are in quarantine for a reason. It’s the best way to keep ourselves and others safe at the moment. BUT it won’t last forever. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and things will get back to normal. In the meantime, I think we need to be gentle with ourselves.
It’s OK to not be OK! Of course we should try to stay as positive as we can but we don’t have to be happy all of the time. If you are struggling, that doesn’t make you weak. It makes you human. Try to be a bit more lenient with yourself, especially while we are in quarantine. Acknowledge how you feel and then do something that you will enjoy. If you’re feeling particularly anxious or down, try some self-care activities like having a bath. If you can relieve some of the tension, then you may feel a little better, but if not, then that’s OK. I find that if I try to force myself to cheer up, then I usually feel worse. Just don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
3. Don’t obsess over the news
Like everyone else, I like to keep up to date with what’s going on in the world, particularly during the quarantine. BUT it’s so important not to obsess over the news! While it’s perfectly OK to watch the news (maybe once a day) for an update, it will take a toll on you if you watch it all the time. Let’s be honest, the news at the moment is quite scary and sad. Try to focus your time on doing more positive activities that will give you some stimulation rather than just making you feel down and worried.
If you are going to watch the news, try to concentrate on the stories about communities coming together during these tough times to raise spirits and support each other. A good example is #clapforourcarers, which happens every Thursday evening in the UK. People all over the country stand outside their houses, or at their windows, and clap together in a show of solidarity to demonstrate our support for the NHS and key workers. I’ve seen plenty of incredible stories of people using the quarantine to do something amazing for their communities. There’s no need to focus your thoughts entirely on the upsetting stories!
4. Practice self-care
Self-care is so important! Take some time to look after yourself and your own needs. I totally understand it can be hard if you’ve got a family or work to do, but you need to put yourself first sometimes. You’ll find it much easier to care for your loved ones if you’re at your best. Even just ten minutes a day can make all the difference to your mental health. Listen to some music, do some exercise, or you could even try some guided meditation. I would recommend the ‘Headspace’ app for meditation and mindfulness. I’ve tried several of their guided meditations, and I can say for sure that they are very relaxing. They could be a great little boost during the day to revitalise you, or you could try them before bed to help you clear your mind and get to sleep.
However you choose to look after yourself during quarantine, just make sure that you prioritize your own emotional health rather than spending all of your time focused on everyone else.
5. Strengthen and create connections
We may be separated physically at the moment, but in many ways, we are more connected now than ever. People all over the world are coming together through community schemes and global online events. There is no need to feel isolated and lonely. You could do a video call with your family or friends. I do a group call with my friends once a week so that we can all catch up and chat about all of the exciting things we’ve done during the week (or not!). It really helps us to feel less separated from each other even though we can’t be together physically. You could also try out some of the mass group ‘parties’ that are happening online. If you’re missing going out and about, then that might be a great option for you.
Personally, I love theatre and music, so I’ve been enjoying the live-streamed concerts and shows that have become available. Artists across the globe have contributed home videos for us all to enjoy. Get together in a show of solidarity and watch some of these fantastic concerts and shows. If you want to feel even more connected, you could donate to the charities which they are supporting.
There are also plenty of ways you can help others in your community and elsewhere. In the UK, you can become an NHS phone volunteer (I’m sure there are similar schemes in other countries too). It requires you to phone people who are lonely and vulnerable. A simple chat with them could make all the difference to their day, and you’ll be surprised how it can improve your own mood too!
If you try out these tips and you’re still struggling to cope, then there are several other things you can do to cope during the lockdown. Don’t suffer in silence.