Eight tips for protecting your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic

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Clarissa Aldrete

Maintaining your mental health while in isolation isn’t easy, but there are steps that can be taken for a helpful boost.

Erin Dailey, Opinions Columnist

Social distancing has been mentally trying for many individuals, creating a sense of loneliness and depression in communities across the globe. However, there are some things we can do to try to keep our spirits up during this time. Here are a few ways to help boost your mental health without endangering yourself or others.

1. Safely change your environment

Long drives and nature walks are a great way to improve one’s mentality. One of my favorite ways to get out of the house is to take a scenic drive through the canyon towards Lake Isabella. If you go, keep your eyes open for one of the empty hiking trails to explore.

You can also opt to go for a walk around your neighborhood, or just drive around town. This change of environment can help ease the tension, as well as create a shift in perspective. Be sure, though, to avoid busy trails and parks; an important aspect of social distancing is not being around people other than those in your household.

2. Set goals and expectations for yourself each day

An important aspect of maintaining a healthy mental state is intellectual stimulation and productivity. Typically, we receive this benefit through the many tasks we complete throughout the day (work, school, chores). While there may be fewer things expected of us by others, we shouldn’t neglect this important human need.

Try setting at least three goals for yourself each day. These goals can include completing assignments, cleaning up, or finishing projects that you may not have had time for before quarantine began.

3. Take the time to learn a new skill

We are a species that has always strived to learn something new; this does not have to change now that everyone is stuck at home. Use this time to study a new skill independently, or even through an online course. This could include learning to play an instrument, studying a new language, or practicing your culinary skills.

Clarissa Alderete
Excersing doesn’t require a gym; there are hundreds of exercises we can do by ourselves at home.

4. Find ways to exercise

Yoga and meditation are also great for the mind. If you have never tried yoga or meditation, you can look up beginner videos on YouTube. This tranquil exercise has been utilized for centuries due to its calming properties, as well as other benefits.

If yoga isn’t for you, try creating your own workout routine. There are multiple exercises that can be done at home without any equipment. Not only will this help protect your physical health, but it will help relieve stress by creating a safe space to release pent up emotion and energy.

5. Safely communicate with loved ones

During these hard times, it is important to communicate with loved ones virtually. Feelings of loneliness can be combatted by keeping open communication lines with your friends and family. If you are going to try a new yoga video, set a time and invite your friends to virtually try it along with you.

6. Find a creative outlet

Use this time to explore your creativity. The process of creating may help take your mind off the pandemic, or it could provide a much-needed safe place to express your emotions. This could include voicing your thoughts through poetry or stories, painting your feelings on a canvas, or even baking them into your favorite dish with a twist.

Clarissa Alderete
Photography is a great creative outlet while we’re stuck at home. Whether it’s using a phone or a professional camera, the possible creations are endless.

The most important aspect of finding a creative outlet is that it provides you with a space that you can clear your head and try to find a new perspective.

7. Stay hygienic

Many of us found ourselves ditching our daily routines after being told we couldn’t leave home; why dress up if you have no one to impress, right? However, dressing up for yourself can actually boost your confidence and lift your spirits. If you feel like getting runway ready for the couch, that’s okay. Enjoy every moment of looking great with your favorite hobbies.
If you don’t already have a skin care routine, try creating one. Whether it’s just using a standard face wash or using trendy face masks, this can help you feel physically and emotionally lighter. It can also help kill some time, as you can go online and learn how to make your own homemade facemask. My favorite homemade facemask consists of 1 tablespoon of oatmeal, 1 teaspoon of raw honey, and 1/2 teaspoon of water. Shed some epidermal toxins and negative energy at the same time!

8. Utilize shopping services to help you maintain your social distance

Shopping can be very intimidating and mentally draining; the stores are sold out of the most needed goods, they’re packed, and it’s a risk every time you walk in a store. There are ways to help reduce shopping-related anxiety and the health risks alike. I recommend trying commercial stores’ shopping apps, such as the Target app.

Target’s app allows you to enter an item on your list, and it will confirm if the item is available. If it is, the app can tell you which aisle the item is in to make shopping easier for you. If it’s not in stock, you can use an option within the app to search another Target store. By being able to plan which location to shop at based on your individual needs, the trip out of the house should go by a little quicker. This will hopefully make the whole process more bearable. If, however, going to the store is simply too dangerous, Target hasn’t forgotten you. The app also allows for curbside pickup, but it will cost $10 after your first free pickup. This option is great for individuals with children.

Although the pandemic may make it seem like the world has come to an end, protecting your mental health is vital to ensuring that as many of us make it through crisis together as possible. If you or a loved one is having a medical emergency, including but not limited to thoughts of hurting themselves or others, please contact the following local services:

Crisis Hotline: 1-800-991-5272
Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Substance Use Division Access Line: 1-866-266-4898