Protect your mental health during COVID-19 pandemic

Keeping yourself mentally healthy during quarantine is challenging, but necessary.

Kenzie Krcelic, Staff Writer

As COVID-19 progresses, governments around the world have taken precautions to protect everyone from this aggressive respiratory virus. Self-quarantining has been highly encouraged and now, mandatory stay-at-home orders have been put into place in many areas, including Tampa, in hopes of flattening the curve.

While these orders are intended to protect everyone physically, mental well-being should not go unnoticed bearing it’s long-lasting effects. A study from the 2003 SARS outbreak by The Lancet, a medical journal, surveyed that quarantined patients endured mental effects ranging from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder to anxiety, anger and sleep disturbances.

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To ensure your mental health isn’t compromised during these times, consider these tips to help keep your mind feeling flourished:

  1. Develop a consistent routine: Refrain from the habit of waking up and slugging around in your pajamas all day. Change into a casual outfit, get ready for the day. Make an agenda of things you want to do, spread them out and look forward to them and make sure you get them done. Even if it’s as simple as making breakfast, walking your dog, cleaning your room or exercising. Try downloading a planner app on your phone to keep track of your tasks. Having a daily routine is healthy and will help prevent boredom.
  2. Get outside: Going out to the beach or to a populated area isn’t an option, so stay local and distanced. Take a walk around your neighborhood, or take your dog for a walk. Ride your bike. Start a garden. If you have a pool, go swim. If you have a car, go wash it or go for a drive, Tampa has lots of beautiful areas such as Bayshore Boulevard that you can still enjoy safely. Anything to have the sun hit your face. The fresh air will help you feel less restricted.
  3. Stay connected: As most people are spending this time in a house with their family, some people are not as fortunate. Video chatting with siblings, parents, and friends is a safe way to stay physiologically healthy. Watching funny movies over video chat or play games like truth or dare or charades. Learn the trending TikTok dances, start a book club. Most importantly, just make sure you do a daily check up on your friends, because everyone’s feeling the boredom. Chatting with loved ones in quarantine can lift spirits and allow you to feel less lonely.
  4. Self care: Relaxation and taking care of yourself can certainly play a part in having good mental health. Do a face mask with a sibling or a parent, take a warm bath, light some candles, try yoga or meditation. A personal favorite of mine is painting my nails with my music blasting, it sounds corny, but it’s different for everyone. Something that can benefit any human being is making a vision board on your bedroom wall. Find pictures of things that motivate you and make it look pretty, be creative! Another thing is to write a list of things you’ve always wanted to do and make it happen. Anything that makes you feel calm can be a wonderful thing to do in a time like this.
  5. Brain stimulation: Make sure you exercise your brain. Participating in your online classes, while not necessarily entertaining, gives you something to do and expands your knowledge. More joyful activities can include doing a word search, completing puzzles, or playing board games like Monopoly, CLUE, or Scrabble. Pick up an instrument and learn how to play, you could even sit down a learn a new language. Lately, I’ve been really into watching timed photo challenges, where you are given 10 minutes to rush around an area and let your creative side run wild as you try to figure out all the places you can take pictures, finding the angles, the lighting, fitting the aesthetic. The ones I’ve seen are in crazy places like a grocery store, and you wouldn’t even believe those pictures were taken in Walmart. It’s insanely fun. All of which can keep your mind sharp.

Bottom line, make sure you are taking care of yourself and if you’re noticing signs of declining mental health, make the changes you need to improve yourself, rather its changing your routine, or reaching out to loved ones and asking for help.