How to manage your mental health in quarantine

As changes to our everyday lives have been implemented recently, we have had to adapt to a completely new schedule with little to no contact with the outside world. As a result, it is evident that many are struggling with staying positive when there hasn’t been much positive news lately. 

Social isolation can easily take a toll on one’s health, both mentally and physically. According to an article by the American Psychological Association, a review of the effects of social isolation was done, co-authored by psychologist Louise Hawkley, PhD. 

… Loneliness can wreak havoc on an individual’s physical, mental, and cognitive health,” article author Amy Novotney said. “Hawkley points to evidence linking perceived social isolation with adverse health consequences including depression, poor sleep quality, impaired executive function, accelerated cognitive decline, poor cardiovascular function and impaired immunity at every stage of life.”

Ways to cope with social isolation

It’s evident that the effects of social isolation (especially for a significant amount of time) can have a negative effect on the body and mind. Despite this, it’s crucial to stay positive throughout these trying times and find ways to protect your mental health and prevent the long-lasting psychological effects of social isolation while being quarantined. 

Exercise

Although it’s not required to work out vigorously every day, it is important to at least go on a walk, run, practice yoga, or do anything that will get your heart pumping. A study in SAGE Journals found that a lack of physical activity for two weeks can lead to a loss of muscle mass, a change in metabolic effects, and a reduction in cardiovascular fitness. 

Your quarantine may be brief, but staying active may help you feel better and maintain your fitness levels”

— Kendra Cherry

There are plenty of at-home workout ideas that can help keep you moving even when you are stuck inside the house,” Kendra Cherry at Very Well Mind said. “Your quarantine may be brief, but staying active may help you feel better and maintain your fitness levels. It’s also a great way to help combat the sense of malaise and boredom that can come from being stuck inside day after day.”

Take a break from COVID-19 coverage

It’s understandable to always have the news on and continuously discuss the state of the world during this time of uncertainty and stress, but it’s also important to spend time without mentioning the news and watching it to reduce stress levels concerning COVID-19. According to an article by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one should take breaks from the news to reduce stress levels.

Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media,” the article said. “Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.”

Set a routine 

During this time, many people have strayed away from their normal schedules, especially with school going online; many of us have begun to ruin our sleep schedules and scroll on our phones for hours on end without doing anything productive. An article by SELF shares how planning out a simple schedule for you to stick to can boost your mental health.

 “You don’t need to block out your entire day, but stick to the basics,” Anna Borges at SELF said. “Make sure you’re still eating regular meals and snacks, taking stretching or movement breaks, and have a regular-ish bedtime/wakeup routine.”

Sticking to a solid routine where you wake up and fall asleep at the same time every day and eating substantial meals can benefit your overall mindset and health. An article by the University of Virginia supports this idea by including ways to set a consistent schedule for yourself.

Make weekends somewhat different, even if that means something simple like making a more elaborate breakfast or something more involved like embarking on a project (i.e., painting a room),” Jane Kelly at the University of Virginia said. “This combination of structure and variation keeps people settled but stimulated – both important for emotional well-being.”

Stay connected with loved ones

It is crucial to stay connected with friends and family, whether it’s virtually or through another form of communication that doesn’t involve human contact. An article by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration explains the importance of staying connected with the people you are not quarantined with.

“Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations such as an infectious disease outbreak that requires social distancing, quarantine, or isolation,” the article said. “Reaching out to people you trust is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety, depression, loneliness, and boredom during social distancing, quarantine, and isolation.”

What the community is doing 

Many students of Carlsbad have taken the time to work on their mental health during these stressful times. It’s crucial to be able to juggle the anxiety of COVID-19 and your life, so staying busy and productive while also taking care of your mental and physical health is the best way to tackle the feeling of the unknown. Junior Elizabeth Marquiss spends her free time staying active and practicing the hobbies she enjoys, among other things.

“I’ve been trying to stay busy by working out, going on runs and walks, and spending time with my family,” Marquiss said. “I’ve had homework to do and practicing piano helps me take my mind off things.”

Graphic by Sophie Werwage.