Social isolation can take a serious toll on your mental health. Anxiety, depression, loneliness, and discomfort are all valid feelings during this pretty surreal period of imposed quarantine. But although COVID-19 temporarily stripped us of our will and freedom to brave the outdoors unnecessarily, we can definitely make sure that it doesn’t strip us of our peace of mind (or sanity) when we’re stuck at home. In fact, there are many methods you can use to feel a little less isolated and more joyful during social isolation. By establishing a routine, staying active, and finding ways to feel connected to the world, you’ll regain control over your new life, and progressively find pleasure in being alone.
Establish a routine.
Over the past few weeks, thousands of social media users have been sharing their “self-isolation” daily routines. This new trend has been super helpful in identifying the different activities people engage in to cope with long-term confinement. One Twitter user, for example, posted her 7am to 10pm schedule, which she claims gives her a sense of structure, control, and stability during quarantine.
She kindly reminds us that staying indoors—all day, everyday—shouldn’t keep us from leading healthy and fulfilling lives. In fact, psychology professor Finian Buckley from Dublin City University writes that maintaining an active daily routine is one of the best ways to cope with isolation. Eating your meals on time, exercising daily, working regular hours and spending leisure time with friends and family (even if remotely) are all activities you should still experience day-to-day.
That being said, here’s a list of fun occupations you can include in your quarantine routine:
- Clean out your closet (and maybe your whole apartment, while you’re at it).
- Learn—and share—a few TikTok dances.
- Create a podcast with your friends via Anchor.
- Catch up with your friends on Houseparty.
- Take extra care of your plants.
- Unsubscribe from every email you don’t need, and unfollow every Instagram account you forgot about.
- Follow a cookbook recipe for your next meal.
- Indulge in some self-care, like some face masking or a bath.
- Read a book.
- Watch a movie.
- Plan your next vacation (because we’ll be out of this eventually, right?).
Let your imagination run wild, and turn boredom into exciting self-exploration. It’s not often you get to spend this much time on your own, so find a way to embrace and enjoy it.
Be as active as possible.
When you look good, you feel good, right? That’s because a healthy body leads to a healthy mind. That being said, exercise is key in maintaining mental well-being. In fact, according to the American Heart Association, adults are recommended to engage in 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week; that’s less than two and half hours of sports every seven days. Squeeze an hour HIIT sesh on Tuesday and two 45-minute runs on the weekend , and you’re all set—it’s that simple.
Reminder: With the COVID-19 pandemic quickly spreading across the globe, social distancing is recommended when exercising outdoors. For safety and sanitary reasons, stay six feet apart from bystanders or pedestrians while training outside.
If you prefer working out indoors, gyms across the U.S. are now offering free online courses for anyone interested in using them—no membership needed! Below are a few of the free fitness programs we love:
- Planet Fitness is streaming live workouts on its Facebook page daily at 7 p.m. EST.
- 305 Fitness is offering 20 of its cardio dance parties on its Youtube channel.
- Downward Dog Yoga, a fitness app, is offering customized yoga, HIIT, and barre classes until May 1st.
- Pure Barre Studio is offering barre classes on-demand for 30 days with the code EXTENDEDTRIAL.
- Brooklyn Boulders, a climbing and fitness facility, is live-streaming various workouts everyday at 5 p.m. on Instagram.
Tip: Check out these awesome fitness YouTube channels; they’re perfect for an at-home workout.
Stay connected from afar.
Remind yourself that this period of social isolation is less Cast Away and more like a luxe staycation. Even if you can’t physically spend time with people, you can still call your friends and stay connected to the world through the news, social media, video chatting, texting, etc. Staying in touch with your loved ones will trump boredom. And speaking to fellow self-isolators can provide a sense of community and support in these dark times. Being informed by reading the news and staying active on social media will also naturally reduce your anxiety—there’s nothing more stressful than the unknown! But being too immersed in current events can also be a source of stress. So rather than spending too much of your time watching or reading the news from all around, focus on pulling information from a few trusted sources such as the CDC, the WHO, and your local health departments, and try to limit the amount of time you spend going down rabbit holes of information.