The coronavirus health crisis is affecting countless businesses and restaurants all over the world. Many restaurants in the United States and Canada have already had to shut down or reduce their operations to off-site dining only in order to support social distancing measures. These changes mean that many restaurant workers (and managers) find themselves low on hours, or out of a job altogether—which is taking a toll on the mental health of restaurant workers worldwide.
If you are experiencing feelings of hopelessness, panic, or isolation anxiety during these difficult times, know that you are not alone. Fortunately, there are many things that you can do to combat malaise amidst COVID-19. We’re sharing our top tips for improving your coronavirus mental health and physical well-being during these uncertain times.
COVID-19 mental health tips
Many aspects of protecting yourself from COVID-19, like staying indoors and keeping away from people, can take a toll on your mental health. Here are several ways in which you can change your outlook, manage your stress, and keep calm during these uncertain times.
1. Limit your exposure to the news
It’s impossible to avoid information about COVID-19 when you turn on the TV or open social media. While some of this news may be helpful, most of the time it increases COVID-19 anxiety, especially if the information is based on rumors. Reduce coronavirus anxiety by only seeking information that helps your day-to-day life. Avoid speculation and upsetting media coverage by limiting how much time you spend watching the news or scrolling through social media.
Takeaway: Try implementing days or hours where you’re unplugging completely—from social media and the news. Consider setting an app time limit on your phone to limit exposure. You can take this time to form new habits such as meditation, yoga, or reading to give your brain a break from the constant COVID-19 coverage.
2. Connect with people to reduce coronavirus anxiety
Prolonged solitude can make even the most introverted people suffer from isolation anxiety. Combat loneliness by making an effort to catch up with family and friends over the phone or via videoconferencing tools like FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Zoom, or Houseparty. Fill up your social calendar with appointments with different people—from family members, to coworkers, to old friends.
Takeaway: Reach out to family and friends to setup times where you can chat over Hangouts or Houseparty. Try hosting virtual games nights with family or friends—playing distance-friendly games like Charades or Pictionary, or finding game sites online to connect together (Jackbox, psych, D&D).
Meditation can reduce coronavirus anxiety by teaching you how to focus on reality rather than letting your worries take over your thoughts. Many are turning to meditation apps to introduce this into their routine—with popular apps seeing a huge increase in downloads since the outbreak. Download apps like Headspace and Calm and take advantage of their free trials, or turn to YouTube for free guided meditation videos. After several days, you’ll be looking forward to tuning in to your daily meditation ritual.
Takeaway: Set yourself a recurring time every day (or few days) to meditate either with an app or through guided videos on YouTube. Stick with this routine and, research shows, you’ll start seeing dramatic improvements in your mental health before you know it.
4. Seek virtual therapy
In some cases, meditation may not be enough to help you ease COVID-19 anxiety. Consider talking to a therapist if your fear manifests itself physically through panic attacks, loss of appetite, or loss of sleep.
If you need a therapist, see what your health insurance covers, look up providers, and inquire about their availability for virtual sessions. If you already see a therapist, ask if they offer virtual sessions. Checkout services like talkspace to find therapists you can connect with online.
Takeaway: Find a local therapist or counsellor and setup an initial meeting with them online—don’t be afraid to test the waters with a few therapists to find one that works for you.
5. Binge watch TV (yes, really)
Binge watching TV shows and movies is usually a guilty pleasure. Take the guilt out of your viewing experience during the COVID-19 pandemic and go full-force into your favorite TV shows. When you put on your favorite flick or get wrapped up in a thrilling new show, you’ll notice that you’ll be thinking about the coronavirus less. Use the extra free time you have from social distancing to catch up on TV shows and movies you’ve always wanted to watch.
Takeaway: Head to your favorite streaming service and start working through your “to watch” list while you have the extra time. Consider setting up calls with family to watch shows together!
6. Maintain a routine to keep COVID-19 anxiety at bay
It’s easy to get stir crazy and lose a sense of time when you’re working from home, working less, or are out of work because of the coronavirus. Combat cabin fever by sticking to a routine, even if you’re stuck inside all day. Setting an alarm, maintaining proper hygiene, getting out of your pajamas, and taking a lunch break will help you maintain your sanity.
Takeaway: Write down a daily routine for yourself that you can stick to. Start small with things like making coffee, making the bed, and eating breakfast. Being productive, even in small ways, can help your mental health. Try building out your routine to add more things like exercise, meditation, or reading to add variety to your day.
7. Set goals
Having something to work towards can help you improve your corona mental health. Set goals for yourself. If you work in a restaurant and want to get promoted, use this time to learn a new skill. If you own a restaurant and have closed it temporarily, work on a new menu. If you’ve always dreamed of opening a restaurant, write your business plan now.
If you have other hobbies that you’ve been putting off, such as painting, knitting, or writing music, now is the perfect time to set yourself a goal and get back into your creative outlets.
Takeaway: Write down a goal and a plan to achieve it. Keep notes every day on how you’re working towards your goals.
8. Spend time outdoors
Most parts of the U.S. and Canada that are affected by COVID-19 still permit people to go outside for exercise. Getting outside of your four walls will help you feel less confined while practicing social isolation. Connecting with nature is good for the mind, body, and soul, so take advantage of nearby parks, beaches, or trails that you can still access. Plus, any Vitamin D you soak up from spending time in the sun will improve your mood; it’s proven to fight seasonal affective disorder. Maintain six feet between you and any other nature-seekers you encounter outdoors.
Takeaway: Set yourself a day or time to take a walk, go to the grocery store, or even spend time on your balcony. Stay away from groups and others during these times to keep up social distancing practices.
9. Catch up on sleep
Like most people, you probably have more free time on your hands because of social distancing. If your hectic schedule usually prevents you from getting eight hours of sleep, you now have no excuse not to catch up on sleep! Enforce a strict sleeping schedule and see how it improves your mood.
If COVID-19 anxiety is preventing you from falling asleep, meditate before bed or watch an episode of your favorite TV show to take your mind off of things.
Takeaway: Set yourself an alarm or reminder for when it’s time to get to bed. You can even bring bedtime meditation into your evening routine to get better sleep and train your brain to wind down for the night.
COVID-19 physical well-being tips
Your physical well-being plays a huge part in your mental health. With the current state of the world, it’s easy to fall into a slump in which you spend most of the day in bed and feed yourself primarily with junk food. Avoid a downward spiral by prioritizing your physical well-being during self-isolation.
10. Go outside
This tip is so important that we had to include it twice! Besides going outside to soak up Vitamin D, you can also take advantage of the outdoors to maintain your physical fitness or get into shape. Walk with a friend (at a safe distance) or your dog, play contactless sports like soccer or tennis (where allowed), or go running.
11. Find alternatives to the gym
Your local gym is most likely closed for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, you don’t need a gym to exercise. Studios like Crunch Fitness, Corepower Yoga, and Pure Barre are offering free trials of their on-demand workout videos. If classes aren’t your thing, you can maintain your fitness by using objects and surfaces around your house as a gym.
If you’ve never been much of a fitness buff, take advantage of the extra free time you have now to get into the best shape of your life!
12. Eat well
Instead of comforting yourself with junk food, maintain a healthy diet if you already have one, or take this time to improve your meal choices. Cooking apps like Mealime provide you with healthy recipes and grocery shopping lists to simplify cooking well. If you are immunocompromised or are in quarantine, take advantage of grocery delivery if it’s available in your area.
You can even take this time to develop new cooking skills and explore new, healthy recipes.
COVID-19 holistic well-being cheatsheet
Even if you don’t have the coronavirus, it’s probably taken a toll on your mental and physical well-being. Social distancing makes it difficult to feel happy and to exercise. The next time you’re feeling blue, refer to this well-being checklist to make sure you’re doing all that you can to keep your mind, body, and soul in tip top shape throughout this pandemic.
- Limit your exposure to the news
- Reduce isolation anxiety by connecting with people
- Meditate your coronavirus anxiety away
- Seek help through virtual therapy
- Binge watch to your heart’s content
- Maintain a routine to keep COVID-19 anxiety at bay
- Set goals
- Get outside
- Catch up on sleep
- Find alternatives to the gym
- Eat well
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