The spread of the coronavirus is causing us to adapt our activities. While social distancing and hygiene measures are critical, self-care should also be a lockdown priority.
Rabat – The spread of COVID-19 has affected day-to-day life for people across the world. Billions are now on lockdown in their homes and face an array of new challenges. We all know that physical wellbeing is extremely important, especially for essential workers, but maintaining good mental health is just as vital. Here are some tips and resources to boost your mental health while sheltering in place.
Social connection from a distance
Staying home means we can no longer physically gather with family and friends. However, there are many online tools that are bringing people together:
HouseParty is a great way to connect with loved ones. The app that allows up to eight people to video chat on a split screen. There are even trivia and game options you can play with your group!
MarcoPolo is like having a walkie talkie but better. The app allows you to send short video messages to an individual or group which they can receive live or check later when online. MarcoPolo is free and perfect for brief check-ins with loved ones, especially if you have a busy schedule to keep.
Words With Friends is a gaming app that allows you to play trivia word games with your friends. The game is similar to Scrabble and allows you to build on one another’s words.
If apps are not “your thing” but you still want to find new ways to communicate, go old school! Become a pen-pal with an old friend or distant relative via snail-mail letters or cards. Sending a hand-written letter is a deeply personal way to communicate that cannot compare to an instant message or phone call. Letters and cards are a safe way to connect to others with only a piece of paper.
While we find more and more ways to virtually connect, it is normal to still feel a longing for physical affection and human touch. If you live alone, here are some methods you can use to give your body the affection it needs:
Massage therapy does not always require a licensed masseuse. There are many tricks you can use to massage your neck, chest, back, and feet that require little to no equipment. My favorite self-massage is flexing and massaging the arches of my feet and heel before going to bed and getting up in the morning. There are ample online instructions for self-massage and it is a great way to release tension and give your body some tender loving care (TLC).
Baths can reduce anxiety and help the body relax. Being immersed in hot water feels comforting on your skin and supports the weight of your whole body. Add epsom salt to heal sore muscles, aches, and chronic pain.
Stress, fear, anxiety, and restlessness all have serious effects on a person’s normal sleeping and eating patterns.
First of all, eating more than usual or indulging in comfort foods is completely normal and acceptable in times of crisis. This is not a time to restrict or punish yourself for wanting an extra scoop of ice cream or enjoying a big bowl of pasta. At the same time, maintaining a nutritious diet is vital for a healthy immune system. The body needs vitamins, fiber, protein, and other essential nutrients to stay strong against disease.
Here are some apps designed for managing a healthy diet:
Kitchen Stories is a cooking app that can help you discover new recipes and provides step-by-step video instructions.
Rise Up focuses on your emotional relationship with food. Rather than tracking calories, this app tracks how you feel during mealtimes and records patterns over time.
Waterlogged sends you reminders to stay hydrated throughout the day. Often people misjudge dehydration as hunger and choosing a glass of water can oftentimes be the thing your body wants most!
Regular sleep schedules have likely been disrupted by the lockdown. You may no longer have to wake up to take your children to school, go to work, or attend religious events, but maintaining healthy sleeping patterns is essential to your physical and mental health. The first step is to observe your patterns and decide what goals or routines you want to maintain.
SleepCycle tracks your sleep patterns and helps you set goals and schedules. Based on movement, it senses when you are in deep sleep and adjusts your alarm to wake you up at the optimum part of your sleep cycle.
If you have trouble falling asleep, apps like Relax & Sleep Well or DigiPill provide free meditations and therapeutic exercises that can help you drift off peacefully.
Herbal supplements like melatonin help calm the nervous system and adjust circadian rhythms to help you fall asleep regularly.
Homeopathic remedies like drinking chamomile tea or taking a hot shower can help the body relax and slow your heart rate before bed.
Maintaining good mental health is possible for some people through these resources, but for many, working with a licensed professional is a necessity. While many therapists are continuing their practices online there are additional resources available for remote therapy and counseling.
Better Help is a service that costs $45 per week and matches you to a licensed therapist based on your needs. This platform allows you to talk with a counselor over the phone, a video call, or text.
Happify is a free app that allows the user to complete activities, games, and check-ins based on methods of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, mindfulness, and positive psychology.
These are just a few of the many resources out there to help you help yourself during lockdown. The most important thing is prioritize health and protect yourself from disease. Now is the time to find ways of reaching out to loved ones, neighbors, and communities for support.