The coronavirus pandemic impacted every nation, every state, and every family. Part of the population was asked to stay home, and others were asked to return to the workforce earlier than expected. Regardless of your situation, you likely experienced some level of self-isolation.
Now, as states start to slowly re-open, everyone is stepping out of their homes for the first time in weeks or months. This is the beginning of a new normal. But how do we navigate this new dynamic while keeping our mental health in check? It may seem like lifting the quarantine veil will automatically eliminate any anxiety or stress, when in reality the opposite is true.
Use this checklist for yourself, family, friends, or co-workers who may need a reminder that staying mentally healthy is just as important as we enter this post-pandemic phase as it was during the quarantine.
- Practice Gratitude. It is important to check in with yourself, friends, family, and co-workers as a reminder to be grateful for all of the goodness that is part of our every day. Acknowledge the things you can control and release the things you cannot, including questions that cannot yet be answered about the pandemic.
- Personalize Your Boundaries. Everyone doesn’t have the same reaction about starting to re-open public gathering spaces, like restaurants, bars, pools, gyms, etc. It’s okay to not be okay jumping 100% back into “regular life.” Do what feels right for you and your family. Rejoin at your own pace.
- Schedule Self-Care. It may seem negligible to schedule time to fixate on one’s self, but it is important to make sure self-care takes place on a regular, recurring basis. This may have been slightly easier when quarantine was in effect, but with regulations relaxing it is now more important. Be patient with your progress. Get outside. Re-read your favorite book. Take a long evening walk. All of these activities will have an amazing impact on helping create your new-normal.
- Block the Negativity. Our minds have a way of running away with worst-case scenarios. Often these scenarios contain negative perspectives and do not actually occur. This may mean scaling back on social media activity, shutting off or limiting the daily news, and taking a break from reading headlines and stock prices. Instead, throw on your favorite movie, peruse the latest comedic additions to your favorite podcast streaming service, or start a new book. Refocus negative energy on something positive. Identifying this mindset is the first step in alleviating anxiety and stress that has built up during this time.
Maintaining a healthy attitude about mental health and making the decision to enter into a new normal for your day-to-day is key to managing anxiety and stress. Here are some tips for entering into this new phase of the pandemic.
Keep Your Positive Routines!
Many of us created new daily routines or schedules that helped to renew a sense of normalcy in our lives. Make sure to keep some of these new routines or schedules as you return to some of the more familiar aspects of your pre-quarantine life. Set aside time for family, meditation, meals and snacks, and exercise. If it worked in quarantine, it will likely have the same impact on your mental health post-quarantine. Conversely, if you created habits that were not so positive, now is a great time to set those aside and replace them with one of these new positive routine ideas.
Virtual Coffee Meet-Ups and Happy Hours
Let’s face it—for a good majority of us, virtual gatherings were not only a relief, but something that was missing from our lives. As busy as we all are, we sometimes forget how easy it is to connect with those who have the biggest impact on our mental and emotional happiness. This scheduled time with co-workers, friends, and family gave you a great excuse to connect regularly—so why stop now? Since we can expect physical distancing to continue, it makes sense to keep these scheduled meet-ups going. This is the best time to share self-care tips, stories from the week, or just let the organic conversation flow.
Back to Work—At Home
If you’re one of the millions of people who has gone back to work but still remains at home, you are definitely not alone. For this reason, one of the best ways to refocus on your mental health is unplugging on evenings and weekends. Working from home can substantially improve productivity as it becomes more difficult for employees to step away from their work. Taking time away from work emails, chats, and projects is essential to your mental health. Start by having a conversation with your manager about your hours, be clear about establishing a work/life balance while working from home, and shut down your computer (rather than just log off) when you are done working for the day.