Keeping a positive spirit during these rough times

By Carolina Garibay

Lately, the words “coronavirus” and “COVID-19″ are all people have been hearing lately. With this virus has also come mass hysteria, panic, and crazy conspiracy theories. As (hopefully) everyone knows, everyone is encouraged to practice social distancing by staying home to prevent the spread of this deadly virus.

For some, though, this may be a big inconvenience, for the most part, it’s a manageable one that requires some adjusting and recalibrating. For others though, such as people who may struggle with mental health issues, going to school or work and leaving the house often provides people who might experience mental health struggles with a solid routine as well as a distraction that some may rely on in order to either focus on something other than their thoughts or to avoid a possible relapse. Thoughts and emotions can be overwhelming on their own, especially for people who might experience mental health disorders, such as anxiety or depression. Being forced to stay at home with these thoughts, and the added stress that comes with the arrival of a global pandemic can produce even more overwhelming thoughts and emotions that can exacerbate mental health disorders.

Since there isn’t really a way around self-quarantining, though, which everyone should be doing in order to beat this virus, below are a few ideas to keep you busy if you are self-quarantining and also struggle with mental health. Remember to try to keep your head up the best you can in the midst of all of the craziness and to stay healthy!

Coloring Books or Paint by Numbers
One of the best stress relievers and the best ways to pass the time is through coloring and painting. Coloring actually puts your mind into the same state that meditating does, reducing stressful thoughts and a restless mind. It also allows you to tap into the creative part of your brain that many people often forget to use. You can find great coloring books and paint by numbers sets for adults on Amazon and on Barnes and Noble.

Have a Spa Day
Having an at-home spa day can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. Simply taking a hot bubble bath and exfoliating can be considered a spa day, but if you want to spice up your spa night a little more you can also do a face mask, an eye mask or even light some candles. If you don’t have any face masks, you can always make your own using ingredients you may have laying around your house already. Simply doing a Google search of some face mask recipes will give you a bunch of ideas and allows you to find what works best for your skin and your needs. Another way to pamper yourself is by giving yourself a mani-pedi and chilling out to a relaxing Spotify playlist.

Baking Another great way to keep you and your mind busy, as well as relieve stress is by baking. A common form of therapy is actually culinary art therapy. Baking requires lots of attention and focus, which is considered an act of mindfulness, so it’s a great way to relieve stress and relax while being productive at the same time. Just like the at-home spa day, baking can be as easy or as difficult as you make it. If you don’t consider yourself great at baking, you can get prepackaged dough or mix for whatever it is you want to make. If you are a somewhat experienced baker, you can go in full homemade mode. Either way, you’ll be less stressed and have some delicious treats as a result!

Reduce Your Time Spent on Social Media
Though staying informed about what’s going on is extremely important, if we’re not careful the news can become overwhelming, especially when mixed with the general panic. A University of California, Irvine study actually showed that in situations like global pandemics, more media exposure leads to higher levels of distress. So, take a couple of hours out of every day to put your phone down and focus on an activity that calms you rather than distresses you.

Stay Connected with Friends and Family
Social distancing may lead to feelings of loneliness, but the important thing to remember is you are not alone in feeling like this, and you can still connect with friends and family virtually in a variety of ways. If you and your friends have Netflix, you can have a virtual movie night through Netflix Party. All you do is download this extension on Google Chrome, and it allows you and your friends to synchronize your viewing so that you can all watch the same movie or show at the same time. The app Marco Polo, similar to Snapchat, is another unique way to stay in contact with friends. This app combines texting and video chat into one experience that allows you and your friends to hop on whenever you’re available, while also not making you feel left out of the conversation. Then, of course, you can always do the classic FaceTime when you just want to have a chat with friends or family and update each other about your quarantine activities.

To those who don’t struggle with mental illness, remember to have empathy and compassion for those who do. Too often, people who struggle with mental health feel invalidated by those who may not fully understand mental health disorders or care enough to educate themselves about mental health. We are in a confusing and difficult time, but just because other issues exist that may affect more people and may be more pressing at the moment doesn’t mean that mental health issues are any less important or deserve to be downplayed.

Stay safe and stay healthy, and remember to be kind, spread love and wash your hands!