Moodsurfing readers have been sharing their thoughts and findings about “what works” in navigating these difficult times, and we’ve collected a series of coping strategies that everyone can use while homebound and social distancing.
- Keep Active. Some people report that they are walking up and down the stairs at home, some have unearthed old exercise equipment that they had lying around the house. Get outside as much as possible. Fresh air and sunshine are very important for health maintenance, and whenever possible, walking or cycling around the neighborhood is a valuable way of keeping active.
- Keep to daily routines. As one reader said: “It really helped to set my wake up and sleep times, also regular meals helped. Getting support from others made it easier to follow through”. Circadian rhythms are vital to our minds and bodies. Another reader commented that moving more lights into the living room made a big difference for her. Be mindful of light levels during waking and sleeping times, and find ways to artificially supplement light if necessary. Remember to limit blue light before bedtime, and, if you have trouble waking up at a regular time, try a stronger exposure to blue (or bright) light upon waking. People who are using computers more than before may find the use of blue light blocking glasses to be helpful while on “screen time”.
- Negotiate shared living space. Several readers have commented that being together in the home all the time puts strains on their relationships. Some have scheduled times when each room is available for work or relaxation. Others agree to actually switch rooms on a regular basis. For many, it is also important to schedule alone times or silent times.
- Limit news media. Listen for good news, and take in that good things are also happening. As one person commented: “once you pull back from endlessly watching news you realize how much you actually want to learn, how much is important and how much is really new.” Be intentional about turning on TV news once per day for important updates, but don’t get sucked into watching the endless repeats of the same stuff.
- Socializing and virtual contact. Be sure to reach out to people you really care about, especially anyone who may be alone at this time. Make time to just be with friends online by video conferencing or phone calls. If you are working from home, you may find that you make times to talk with colleagues even more than before. “We probably talk more than before because people are anxious and they want to reach out more,” was one reader’s comment about his work patterns.
- Act on your values. Although our choices may be limited by quarantine and pandemic, we still have choices. One of our most inspiring readers decided to use the homebound time to study for a certification test for nursing that she had been avoiding. Now, she finds a real sense of motivation from knowing that, as a nurse, she will be able to make an important contribution. She said “all of a sudden, there was no more room for my depression!” Acting on values and adding meaning to life are real boosts for our mental health.
- Acceptance of reality. A lot of things are really bad right now. People are getting sick and dying. The economy is crashing. We are all afraid. Once we look squarely at what the situation is, we can start working for change. If we keep trying to avoid reality, or keep wishing things were different, we will never be able to move forward.