Social isolation is terrible for most of us. As a matter of fact, the absence of social contact have been associated with poor health. In spite of that, we must maintain social distance and stay home. So, whether you’re alone in isolation or with close friends and family members, you should follow these mental health tips from therapists— they will help you stay healthy and sane during quarantine.
#1: Limit how much you complain to the people you’re quarantined with.
Unfortunately, not everyone has a big mansion “to enjoy the quarantine” and living in tiny spaces can cause some psychological problems, especially when you share the space with other family members.
“We’re all tired, our nervous systems are taxed, and we’re a little short on patience,” says Robyn D’Angelo, LMFT, founder of The Wild Grace Collective. “This might have you thinking [the people with you] are the only ones you can vent to. They’re not and they shouldn’t be. Call a friend. Text your neighbor, if you know them. Or seek out a therapist.”
#2: Express your feelings.
D’Angelo recommends creating moments in the day to express your feelings for your loved ones.
“Carve out little moments for hugs, making someone’s favorite meal, complimenting your partner on their finest conference call pajama pants, or just telling someone you love and appreciate them—especially while things are really tough and scary,” she says. “Just make time to show those who are nearest to you that you love them. Every single day, in some form.”
#3: Focus on the basics of self-care.
Now, the vast majority of people take extra precautions and it’s great, but some of them are pointless. Dallas-based licensed clinical psychologist George Ball, PsyD, says you should make sure you’re still focusing on the basics of self-care.
“This means you need to be shooting for eight hours of sleep per night, eat as clean as you can given the circumstances, and exercise at least three to four times per week,” he says. Throwing in some things to pamper or treat yourself—like a face mask or bubble bath—may be helpful, too, but if that seems too daunting, make sure you’re a least covering the basics for the time being.
#4: Hang out virtually with your friends.
In a time of uncertainty when most people are experiencing the “same anxiety and fear,” licensed therapist Marcy Melvin with Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, says it’s really essential to stay “visually and verbally” connected with friends and family.
After all, a new Kaiser Health report shows that nearly half of the people in the U.S. feel that their mental health is being harmed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Use FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom to hang out virtually with your friends and family.
#5: Maintain a sense of normalcy.
Patricia Celan, MD, a psychiatry resident at Dalhousie University in Canada, says “maintaining a sense of normalcy” is an important part of managing your mental health right now.
“Go through the motions the way you would if this was not happening, by waking up, working, eating, and exercising at the same times, with adjustments made for restrictions in going out,” she says. “Focus on the things you can control in your life at this time, rather than obsessing about the uncontrollable state of the pandemic.”
#6: And find ways to safely keep plans you already made.
Raleigh-based licensed clinical mental health counselor Latoya Nelson says that finding ways to safely keep plans that you already made will help you “stay connected with relationships and friendships you had” outside of quarantine.
“If you had a happy hour with friends every Friday night, continue to do that virtually. Have everyone show up with their favorite beverage and the recipe to share,” she says. “And move group conversations to group text messages. This is important because the drastic change of very engaging socialization to isolation can cause a shock to the system and feelings of anxiety or depression.”