Avoiding Quarantine Madness: How to support your mental health naturally
The most common complaints I am hearing in my practice and in my community these days are focused on mental health. Being socially isolated has taken a toll on many of us. Whether we are missing the social connection of friends and family, struggling to keep a small business afloat, facing an increased workload while working from home, or navigating home schooling we are all adjusting to a shockingly different new lifestyle. Fortunately, there are some easy to implement strategies you can use to combat the toll social distancing can take on your mental health.
If you are struggling to adjust to this “new normal,” then you may feel anxious and/or depressed, have difficulty sleeping or be sleeping too much, have increased or decreased appetite, may be unable to focus, or experience more irritability than usual- just to name a few of the things I am hearing! I have experienced some of these myself, and can totally relate.
If you can implement some of the strategies below you will be able to take charge of your mental health in this time of uncertainty. You will go from feeling out of control and possibly hopeless, to in control and hopeful. You will feel more mentally stable, and less anxious or depressed. You will get better sleep, and have more energy. You will have a more predictable appetite and reduce sugar and salt cravings.
I had a consult last week with a Mother of two young children who is trying to work from home. Her husband is still working outside of the home, and she is attempting to home school and work. She spoke about her feelings of guilt for not getting school work done along with her irritability at her kids when she can’t focus on her own work. She has been up at night with vivid dreams, and craving sugar and snacks all day. She hasn’t had motivation to exercise, and has noticed a decline in her sex drive and overall feelings of connectedness to her husband. We implemented a few of the steps discussed below, and she is already feeling an improvement.
Here are the top 7 things we implemented:
1. We discussed the fact that we get OUT of ourselves, what we put IN. Food is medicine! The first change we made was to add a vegetable to every meal, and to make sure one meal of the day was a leafy green salad with multi colored vegetables. She also eliminated sugar.
2. She committed to drinking half her body weight in ounces of water daily to combat cravings, stay hydrated and support the immune system.
3. Sleep and wake rituals were put in place. Sleep routine includes tea and a bath, 15 minutes of meditation, and no screen time 1 hour before bed. Waking routine includes making the bed, sun salutations upon rising, and a healthy breakfast.
4. An attainable exercise goal was implemented. She chose 15 minutes of yoga and 15 minutes walking outside with the family daily.
5. A stress reduction plan was discussed, and she chose to journal daily and write down three good things she is grateful for along with a breathing exercise every day (either during yoga, meditation or separately).
6. A human connection and social interaction goal was set to connect with someone outside of her immediate family each day. She chose to email friends, and set up a zoom call weekly with friends she was missing while quarantined.
7. Self-care strategies were discussed, and she chose to focus on a new hobby while home. She has always wanted to get back into making collages with old family photos and thought it was a fun activity for the kids as well.
Small changes that we make to our daily lives can help to prevent the inevitable toll that quarantine takes on our mental health.
Here is YOUR call to action: Pick ONE of the strategies above, and give it a try today!