Right now, the Coronavirus is circulating, and people are still under a government mandated lockdown/quarantine. This means unless you are designated an “essential worker,” you’re not supposed to go anywhere, not even to work. You’re not supposed to be around people other than your immediate family (especially the elderly), and the only time you can go anywhere is to the grocery store or to get other supplies. We are encouraged to get outside to get air and exercise, but it is still necessary to avoid being around other people. All of this is to keep the virus from spreading.
The majority of us have a daily routine that we have designed to set up our lives the way we want to live them. This routine has been disrupted by the quarantine, and many of us are finding ourselves isolated with extra time on our hands. Humans are social creatures by nature, so it is no surprise that isolation can be tough, especially with a surplus of free time. Making this a particularly difficult mental health challenge.
Boosting mood and mental health during isolation is difficult, so it is important to maintain your normal daily routine, as close as possible. If you’re working from home, shower, dress, eat breakfast, etc. as you normally would. If you’re not working, continue your daily routine as if you were. Then you will need to substitute other things to do in place of work, and I have a list of ideas that will give you results in turning boredom and isolation into productivity and satisfaction.
There are a ton of things you can do around the house but may not realize. My hope is that you can read through the following list, and get excited and inspired to put all this extra time to good use. After reading through it, remember to focus on what you can do and not what you can’t.
1. Personal Development
There are many resources available on the internet that cover almost an infinite amount of topics. You can utilize podcasts, audiobooks, online courses or YouTube videos to better yourself. You can learn a new skill, learn a new hobby, or even learn to play a musical instrument. You can learn a foreign language or even learn how to write an app. And what makes it even better is that all this can be done for free! Spend some time learning, expanding your mind, and this will expand your mental health.
2. Career Development
Does the quarantine have you feeling bad about your job? Use this extra time to improve your job skills, or even learn a new set of job skills altogether! Seek out the many resources available to improve your skills and your mental health.
3. Invest in Relationships
With extra time to kill, start new habits to improve your relationships. Set aside time to catch up with your parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends. You can even video chat with FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, etc. Start now, and these habits will carry over to when the quarantine is over and life is back to normal. After all, studies show that healthy relationships are one of the most important things needed to have a high quality of life. And a high quality of life certainly leads to a high quality of mental health.
4. Home Improvement Projects
You’ve been putting off organizing and de-cluttering the walk-in closet, because you just haven’t had the time. Well, now you can organize, de-clutter, and deep clean the entire closet! And don’t stop there, tackle as many rooms in the house as you can. Rearrange the living room furniture. Put a fresh coat of paint on the bathroom walls. You can even experiment with some crazy colors! If you don’t like it, you can change it back. You have time! Keep in mind that the busier you keep yourself, the more productive you will be. And being busy and productive are good for your mental health.
5. Vehicle Improvement Projects
Don’t forget the car! That funky smell you just can’t place…that stain on the seat or the one on the floorboard…the patches of tar that don’t come off in the car wash…
You’d be surprised how easy these things are to do yourself. Do a YouTube search, and most likely you already have the things around the house you need to take care of these nuisances.
You can also utilize this free time to catch up on your vehicle maintenance. Get your vehicle’s oil changed. Get that cracked windshield replaced. Get the tires rotated. If you need any major mechanical or body work done, now is the time to put the car in the shop since you’re not needing to drive much. Finally checking these things off your to-do list will check some stress off of your life and do wonders for your mental health.
With free time on your hands, explore new methods of exercise. You can’t go to a gym or studio because they are closed (due to the quarantine), but you don’t need to!
• Try a Zoom yoga or aerobics class
• Get in the habit of walking ten minutes after every meal
• Experiment with a new running program
• Start a meditation routine
• Start a resistance training routine
Again, there are countless resources available to help you continue, improve and vary your exercise routine. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain, naturally making you feel good. Also, any exercise is an accomplishment, and any accomplishment feels good. An endorphin release and sense of accomplishment will certainly help your mood and mental health.
Now is the time to get your nutrition program on point. I hear people on the news talking about how the quarantine is causing them to gain weight. This is just an excuse and an opportunity for people to eat to counter their boredom. Don’t fall into this trap!
Try a new lifestyle. Keto, carnivore, paleo, Mediterranean…research and find new recipes that correspond. You will find what works for your body. Your health, the way you look, and the way you feel will improve. This will improve your mental health as well.
The quarantine can be a blessing or a curse. Having the proper mindset, staying busy, and staying productive will help you improve yourself, your immediate environment, and maybe even those who know you. Use these activities to make your mental health the best it can be, and you will come out of this quarantine a better version of yourself.