How to stay mentally healthy during self isolation

A simple guide

Now that most of us are at home—either social distancing or in quarantine — you may be starting to feel some side effects of isolation: loneliness, depression, or anxiety. While staying home can help “flatten the curve” in our province and reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 to you and others, you may be feeling the toll of social isolation.

Loneliness, depression, and anxiety are all completely normal feelings during this time. Humans are social creatures, and human interaction can help boost our mood and overall health. Here are some simple ways you can cultivate your social and emotional well-being while still staying indoors.

  • Face-to-face from your phone. Technology is a great thing during social distancing. Not only can we easily phone any of our friends or family members, but we can also pop onto a video call to hear their voices and see their faces. Video chatting is the next best thing to in-person interaction. You can see facial cues, body language and other nonverbal forms of communication that are important for bonding. When possible, reach out to someone on a video call.
  • Host an online party. While video chatting one-on-one is great for bonding and chatting, there are also options to get together in larger groups online. Play around with finding new ways to do what you would normally do with others online. Do you normally meet a group of colleagues for after-work drinks? Why not have a group video happy hour on Skype or Facetime? You could also host a remote book club or get all the kids in your family together for a group chat. Getting together in larger groups online can help you feel a bit more normalcy during this time.
  • Social media kindness. Many of us are probably on social media more than usual right now. When you find yourself scrolling through people’s posts, stop and send one of them a few kind words. Receiving kind words provides a much-needed amount of dopamine that will last longer than a quick like. After all, we need a little extra kindness to counter stress and uncertainty.
  • Stay active. Exercise can decrease stress, boost your mood, and increase your energy. You don’t need to go run a marathon, but there are easy ways to get your body moving. Try going for a short walk outside, doing an online exercise video, or even walking up and down your stairs a few extra times. Moving can help your overall mood while you are at home.
  • Relax. Take care of yourself and your body by doing relaxing things throughout the day. Take a deep breath, stretch, meditate or journal. Bake bread. Paint a picture. Knit. Read a book. Do something that you enjoy that allows you to take a quiet moment to yourself away from news and stress of the day.
  • Pace yourself. Don’t feel like you need to fill every second of your day at home with projects, productive activities, and meaningful moments. It’s okay to do nothing. Be kind to yourself and others.
  • Talk about it. If you are feeling anxious or lonely while you are at home, tell someone. You may find it helpful to share your experiences and feelings with loved ones and friends.

The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us that human connection promotes mental wellness. There are many ways that you can look after your health while practicing social distancing or self-isolation. We hope you all stay safe and healthy.