Many people are finding themselves transitioning to a new normal due to the coronavirus outbreak. This new normal may include working from home, cancelled events, and closed stores and restaurants. These sudden changes to our daily lives have left many feeling down or anxious. As you navigate this transition, consider the following recommendations for maintaining self-care during the coronavirus outbreak.
Maintain Your Typical Routine
As much as possible, maintain your typical routine while you are at home. You can start by planning to get up at the same time each morning and to go to bed at the same time each night. If your typical morning routine is to have coffee before taking a shower and getting ready- stick to that! Whatever your typical daily schedule, continuing in your usual routine as much as possible will be helpful in maintaining your well-being and positive mental health. If you are in a working from home situation, set up a designated “work area” where you can focus on work tasks. Create a list of daily activities to help keep yourself on track. If you are caring for children who are out of school, check out some activities for kids during coronavirus quarantine. (See also our post on how to talk to your kids about the coronavirus.)
Engage in Enjoyable Activities
Engaging in enjoyable activities can help improve mood, so set aside some time to do the things that bring you a sense of pleasure or happiness. These activities can be simple and might range in time from spending a few hours doing a puzzle to just a few minutes listening to music. You could also use this as an opportunity to engage in creative or productive activities, such as practicing or learning a new skill or reading that book you’ve been meaning to get to. You could even use this extra available time to foster a pet!
With gyms and sports facilities closing, you may find yourself reconsidering your exercise routine. However, you can still maintain an impactful exercise routine at home. Many gyms are offering online classes and exercise options, and there are also many free fitness routines available online, offering the option to participate in “on demand” classes. You can also implement home-based modifications to your workout, such as using full water bottles or bags of laundry instead of weights, and books instead of yoga blocks. Additionally, you can get some cardio by heading outside to uncrowded areas going for a walk, jog or run. Alternatively, you could get some cardio indoors by putting on some music and have a family (or solo) dance party! Exercise has many positive impacts on mental health and overall well-being so it can be helpful to set aside 20-30 minutes a few times a week to engage in some physical activity.
Social distancing is a physical recommendation, but this doesn’t have to impact your social connectedness! Even if you are spending more time physically alone, there are several ways to stay connected to the people who matter to you. Schedule some time to call or video chat with family or friends. If calls or video chats are not your thing, consider texting or participating in online communities rather than isolating. For anyone who is missing group movie nights, Netflix Party will allow you to synchronize your Netflix with others so you can still have that movie night with your friends or family. We know from research that social support and engagement help improve mood, so stay connected!
Maintain a Helpful Mindset
In times of uncertainty, people may experience an increase in anxiety and worry. If you notice an increase in anxious thinking, try identifying the thought and recite coping statements such as “This is a difficult time, but it will not last forever,” “It’s okay to feel a little uncomfortable right now and I’ll just do my best,” or come up with your own! Reviewing coping statements can help decrease anxiety in times of uncertainty and maintain a helpful mindset for successfully navigating change.
Take Breaks from TV (Especially the News) and Social Media
When you’re at home you may find yourself wanting to binge-watch shows or spend hours scrolling through social media. While these activities may be enjoyable for a period of time, extended TV or social media time can also lead to feeling down. Constantly checking the news may not actually give you substantial new information — and it might be increasing your anxiety instead. Try taking regular breaks from TV and social media to help reduce anxiety and improve mood. (See also our guide to meditation during the lockdown, the ultimate break from the news cycle.)
These recommendations are a few things that can help you cope and maintain self-care during the coronavirus outbreak. If you would like increased support in navigating this transition, please reach out to your CBT therapist or schedule an appointment with one of our therapists for additional assistance. In addition to the above, please also make sure to adhere to CDC recommendations for protecting yourself and others. And remember you’re not alone- we’re all in this together!
Stay well and healthy!
Subscribe to the Manhattan Center for Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy blog!