Quarantine and social distancing – two concepts that were once considered unthinkable a few months ago have become our new “normal” as we work globally to fight this growing pandemic. Schools have closed, many workers are now working from home, and governments have ordered we all stay at home and distance ourselves from others to help prevent the spread of this spiraling virus. These measures, though necessary to protect our physical health, can negatively affect our mental health, and these implications should not be overlooked.
“Humans are social animals,” said Ian Hickie, a Professor at the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre, to CNBC Make It. “Prolonged quarantine or social isolation (without compensatory methods in place) will exacerbate anxiety, depression and a sense of helplessness.”
If you’re having a difficult time adjusting to this new normal, this is your reminder that you are not alone and you should not feel guilty for feeling what you’re feeling right now. Given everything that’s happening with the world and the growing number of new cases, sadly many of us might be feeling like it’s selfish to be talking about how all of this is affecting our mental health. We want to assure you that it’s not.
As humans, we crave physical touch and human connection, and the ability to seek that out right now has been strained. Even aside from the isolation aspect, job loss, financial fears, and the struggle of balancing both work and kids at home are all factors that can contribute to additional stress in our lives. We also want to acknowledge all of the college/university seniors who had their final year abruptly cut short. Not only were you were forced to say premature goodbyes, many of you are also now struggling with the adjusted curriculum.
Our hearts go out to the workers who continue to go out and serve amid this crisis. For those of us who are quarantining at home, we wanted to remind you of some simple but effective ways to help protect your mental health during this challenging time:
1. Stay connected. Keeping in touch with our friends and family is more important now than ever. Though we are social distancing, we are still able to stay connected virtually. Phone calls, FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom are all great ways to keep in contact with people. There’s also a Chrome Extension called “Netflix Party” that allows you to watch Netflix remotely with your friends!
2. Maintain a routine. Shifting from the office to working from home can make all the days seem to just blend together. Setting an alarm, getting dressed, and scheduling a time to start and finish work can all help with keeping your brain in “work mode” and maintaining a sense of normalcy.
3. Keep moving. With gyms now closed, it can be tough to stay motivated to work out. But you don’t need to have a fancy home gym to get your physical activity in, nor do you have to limit your workouts to just running on your treadmill (unless that’s your thing!). There are countless home workouts available on YouTube you can follow that require zero equipment. Nice day out? Take your workout to your backyard to get some fresh air.
4. Relax. Lastly, we know this is all so unprecedented and the thought of having to stay home for weeks is unsettling to say the least. Listening to the News everyday can be scary and overwhelming. While it’s important to stay informed, it’s also important to take time to do things that make you happy – whether that’s reading, spending time with family, or starting a new series on Netflix. We’re all dealing with this differently and it’s okay to say you’re struggling.
If you need help, please reach out:
Crisis Services Canada: 1-833-456-4566 or text 45645
Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868