It’s official. It’s been one year since the first COVID-19 lockdown and life in quarantine—at least for those of us living in California and other parts of the U.S. One year is a LONG time to socially distance.
It’s no wonder that loneliness, anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and substance and domestic abuse have increased over the past year 😥. Thankfully restrictions are being lifted and things are continuing to open up!
For me, it’s been a strange year of wavering between feeling anxious and overwhelmed and being filled with hope and joy. Some days over the past year, I’ve been able to eat healthy, workout, connect with others, and remain optimistic. And other days, well, not so much. I have trouble sleeping, lack motivation to leave the couch, and eat too many snacks.
Here are the habits I practiced on my ‘good days’ through the pandemic—hopefully they will help you stay sane until ALL lockdown restrictions are finally lifted:
Be mindful of what you eat. Avoid processed and unhealthy foods as they may contribute to depression and negative emotions. Enjoy recipes made with fresh ingredients and/or support local restaurants by ordering healthy meals when available.
Prioritize meaningful social interactions. Actually talking with others, either in-person, through video or on the phone, is key to maintaining social and mental health. Do not limit yourself to only social media or texting.
Go outside and exercise. Whenever possible, try to get out and run, walk, or be active outdoors. Being in nature is good for the soul.
Set alarms to keep you on track. Getting up and going to bed at the same time each day is crucial for getting good sleep. Reminding yourself to keep a regular-ish schedule can help keep you disciplined and well rested.
Reward yourself. Make sure to incentivize yourself for living well and goal setting. In fact, accomplishing your goals is even more impressive now and should be celebrated to the fullest.
Embrace ‘off’ days. It’s okay to have days when you’re not feeling or performing at your best. You are human after all. Let go of unrealistic expectations and focus on implementing healthy habits over the long-term.
One of the most important things I’ve learned during quarantine is to give yourself grace, and not be so hard on yourself. I’ve come to expect ups and downs, knowing that each day looks different and that I won’t always be as productive or healthy as I would like.
Hopefully one day soon, staying mentally healthy won’t be so challenging, but until then stay strong and be gracious to yourself! And if you’re habitually feeling isolated, mentally volatile or need to speak with a mental health professional, please don’t delay. Make sure to get the care that you need.