When the coronavirus crisis began to really hit home here in San Francisco several weeks ago, I felt confused and helpless. Call me crazy, but I was actually thrilled when we got the order to “shelter in place”—at least now, my marching orders are clear. Whether your current directives are to shelter in place or adhere to a full-on lockdown, across the globe, we’re all doing our part by socially distancing. While we understand keeping a distance from, well, everyone, is critical right now, it can be a wild ride mentally and emotionally. While it’s crucial we stay at home to protect the health of our bodies and our communities, it’s also important to remember to prioritize your mental health. Here, we rounded up 10 self-care tips for social distancing.
1. Reach Out to Friends And Family
While we may be physically alone, remember that everyone else is, too! Now is the perfect time to schedule that FaceTime date with the friend who’s always on the go, set up a Zoom happy hour with your best friends from college, and send out some fun trivia questions to your family text chain. Remember that it’s OK to ask for help and support when you need it—we’re all cycling through many different emotions and connecting with others is a great way to remember that you’re not alone in this.
2. Spend Time Outdoors
When the whole world feels like it’s been turned upside down, there’s something magically grounding about going outside and remembering that the world continues to spin. Birds are still chirping, waves are still crashing, trees are even beginning to bloom. Try to get outside every day for these pleasant reminders, not to mention the positive benefits of fresh air and Vitamin D.
Remember that we’re advised to walk alone or with members of our immediate household, and try to maintain six feet of distance between you and others out for their daily dose of the outdoors. Try taking a walk first thing in the morning or, if you feel safe and comfortable doing so, later in the evening when fewer people are outside. If your schedule permits, taking a walk mid-morning or mid-afternoon may also reduce the number of people you see outside as many people try to adhere to their usual working hours.
While tons of yoga and fitness studios have been offering full online classes, that’s not going to sound good to everyone every day. Even if you aren’t in the mood for a serious sweat sesh, make sure you stretch. Stretching is not only good for our muscles, but it’s an important way to tune into your body and feel energized without tons of time or effort. The great thing about stretching is that you can do it anytime and anywhere, so next time you turn on Netflix, instead of heading straight to the couch, sit down on the floor and take a few minutes to stretch it out.
4. Stick to a Schedule
Your schedule looks different from normal and that is not only OK but encouraged. Embrace that and don’t feel guilty if you aren’t “achieving” or “accomplishing” what you feel you should be—these are uncertain times for everyone. In spite of this, sticking to some kind of loose routine (even if it’s changing out of PJs and into yoga pants and remembering to eat breakfast sometime before noon) can help us feel grounded in our abnormal new normal. Allow your schedule to be loose and flexible, especially if you’re trying to work with kids in the house.
5. Write Your Feelings in a Journal
Journaling is a great way to boost creativity, clear your mind, and record memories—and this will be quite an interesting time in history to look back on! With so many fluctuating emotions, many of us have felt overwhelmed and confused and writing it down may help you make sense of some of these feelings. Additionally, practicing gratitude by writing down just a few things each day you’re thankful for can help keep things in perspective and anxiety at bay.
6. Spend Extra Time With Your Pets
If you’re a pet owner, you are 70 percent luckier than non-pet owners right now (I made that statistic up, but it feels true—what I would give for a puppy cuddle right now!). Enjoy this extra time with your furry friend(s) and please give your dog a belly scratch for me.
7. Maintain Your Personal Hygiene
I’m pretty sure on every video call I’ve been on, someone has mentioned being embarrassed about not washing their hair. Since that person has been me at least twice, I feel like it’s OK to say it: let’s all keep washing our hair! It’s easy to neglect our hygiene when we’re not going out in public, but a quick shower goes a long way in feeling like our best selves. Some might find it’s even a fun time to experiment with your personal hygiene regime by adding baths, face masks, or an at-home mani/pedi into the mix.
8. Keep Your Living Space Clean
Just like showering, it can feel easy to let clutter accumulate—it’s not like anyone is coming to dinner! Try to enjoy the ritual of keeping your living space clean—maybe you do a 10-minute sweep at 5 PM each day or wash all your dishes before bed with a meditation app playing. In a moment of real anxiety or frustration, try funneling your feelings into a deep clean—you’ll thank yourself when you come out the other side to a sparkling living space.
9. Bake Something
Remember when anxiety baking became a thing? It’s back, so break out the whisks and mixing bowls (or leave everything in the cupboard and just make these 3 ingredient peanut butter cookies!). Similar to deep cleaning, baking will occupy your mind and your hands and most importantly, reward your labor with a delicious treat. (And on this topic, if you haven’t already watched every season of The Great British Bake Off, might I encourage you to immediately exit this article and find your remote control?)
10. Pick Up a New Hobby
Let’s preface this by saying that your goal during this time is to take care of your mental health, practice self-care, stay away from people, and stay healthy. If that is all you do by the end of the coronavirus crisis, you will have succeeded. But, if you’re feeling like you can add something else to your plate right now, it might be a great time to pick up a new hobby. There are tons of online offerings for everything from calligraphy classes to website design courses to yoga classes for just about any mood. Hobbies also don’t have to result in anything tangible—reading, drawing, singing, and dancing are all excellent ways to spend time and feel good about yourself that won’t result in a new line on your resume—and that is more than OK.