In Our Community

Staying Mentally Healthy In Isolation

By Interior Savings
March 30, 2020

Staying mentally healthy during any crisis or time of change can be difficult. For many, it may even require a concentrated effort.  Most of the world is collectively feeling additional stress due to COVID-19, and for those of us currently either in self-isolation or quarantine, there are additional stressors.   Many strategies we normally use to deal with stress are not available to us: going to the gym, calling a friend to meet for lunch, or looking ahead to a vacation trip. None of these are options during this uniquely stressful time.

If you are in self-isolation or quarantine, it is still helpful to maintain some sort of routine if you are able to do so. Many of us might be feeling lost right now without our old routines but there are some things we can do to stay grounded and maintain a sense of control. For example, getting up in the morning and going to bed at night at the same time you did before COVID-19 and creating a to do list with at least one task each day to feel productive.  Many of us will have clean, organized drawers and cupboards when this is all over!

We know social connection is important for our mental health. So how do we remain connected yet physically distant?  The technology that before COVID-19 might have been blamed for disconnection, is now our best and safest way to stay connected.  There are lots of free apps and options for video calls that let us see the faces of those we’re talking to, play games together online, and chat as groups. With these technology we can get creative; why not share a meal or watch a movie “together”?

Another thing we can do is work to take control of our thoughts.  How much time are we thinking about COVID-19, how much are we talking about it or watching news about it?  Changing our thoughts can change our emotions. We can say to ourselves, “I am stuck in this apartment all alone” or we can re-frame those thoughts to, “I have a lot of time to focus on things I have not been able to get to.”  Pull out the puzzle you got for Christmas two years ago or start learning how to play that instrument gathering dust in the corner. Be aware of how much time you spend watching the news and cut back if it is causing you stress. Being informed is good, but refreshing the news site every 5 minutes likely isn’t doing you any favours. Notice how you feel when using social media. Is it a cause of additional angst? If it is, now’s a good time to cut back, read a book, or watch a documentary or a comedy series instead.

The bottom line is to not only watch what we watch, but watch what we’re thinking.  Can we be grateful for what we have but still reach out if we feel overwhelmed or anxious?  We’re alone together and we will get through this, maybe even more connected than we were before.

Thanks to CMHA Kelowna for sharing these tips with us. To learn more about how to cope with feeling isolated during COVID-19, visit their website.