The COVID-19 pandemic has been a struggle for us all, keeping us isolated and cooped up in our homes for months on end. Part of the struggle is maintaining our mental health as we wait for the pandemic to end. If you’ve found yourself in a rough spot over the last year, allow us to suggest some activities that will improve your mental health and help you hold out until life returns to normal.
Get Your Body Moving
You don’t have to jump right into a hardcore routine, but exercise helps you improve your mental health by increasing your blood flow, which makes you feel more energized. This can be as simple as taking a walk around the neighborhood; as long as you’re breaking the sedentary habits you might have formed during quarantine, you’ll feel less sluggish and more motivated throughout the day. Other activities such as yoga give you the opportunity for meditation and self-reflection while making your body more flexible.
Deep Clean Your Home
This may not seem like much fun and could be difficult to get started, but we promise that it is one of the best activities that will improve your mental health. Your environment has a large influence on your mental health in that it directly impacts your physical comfort and your emotional state. So, a filthy, disorderly, and dark environment will negatively impact your mental health by making you feel uncomfortable and depressed by what a mess you’re in. Taking the time to keep your environment clean and adequately lit will make your home a welcoming place that you’ll want to spend time in.
Take Up a New Hobby
Maybe you’re just tired of doing the same thing day after day. Your routine has started making the days blend together and has altered your perception of time. If you’ve ever considered picking up a new hobby, even if it’s just a passing interest, now is the time to give it a try. Even if you decide you don’t like it, at least you’ve done something different and broken up your daily routine.
Cook Yourself Something
Take the time to cook yourself a good meal, especially if you’ve found yourself eating a lot of takeout and fast food during the quarantine simply for the sake of convenience. How we fuel our bodies can impact our emotional state, and eating nothing but processed or fast food can leave us feeling ill and apathetic because these dishes are simply not nutritional don’t provide much energy. Cooking yourself a good meal will leave you satisfied and feeling a bit healthier afterward.
The light is finally at the end of the tunnel, and while waiting for the end can be even harder now that we can see the light, you should still take advantage of these activities to keep yourself preoccupied and improve your mental health. Normal life will begin again soon; we just need to weather the storm until then.
Christina Duron is a writer living in the Chicagoland area. Her passion for writing and mental health help create thought provoking and engaging pieces and hopes to use them to empower mothers and women to embrace the beauty of motherhood.
While you may want to remain light-hearted, life always includes a certain number of serious responsibilities. in particular situations, especially when you are a parent, those responsibilities often become the priority.
But the fact that you have serious responsibilities to take care of doesn’t, by any means, mean that you should live your life in a somber and overly serious way. If you can nurture a more light-hearted disposition, there’s a good chance that you will not only feel significantly better over the course of your everyday life, but that you will also radiate a more positive energy to the people around you, and will be more resilient against the challenges you have to confront.
Here are just a small handful of tips that might prove useful in helping you to remain light-hearted when you have serious responsibilities to take care of.
Make time for play on a regular basis
For some reason, we tend to believe that “play” is something primarily for children, and that grown-ups have to be serious and focused on the hard realities of everyday life, pretty much all the time.
In fact, though, there is good psychological research indicating that all human beings, at all ages, have a basic need for play. Among other things, play helps to relieve stress, fuel the imagination, and allow for a simulation of the highs and lows of life, in a low-consequence and ultimately enjoyable setting.
You’ve almost certainly heard the saying “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” and that saying contains much truth that can be applied to anyone, in any situation. Regular play is one of the best ways of keeping light-hearted, and maintaining a youthful and exuberant outlook towards life.
So, make time for play on a regular basis, whether that means getting a good selection of kids games and having family game nights, or whether it means playing a high-energy sport, or playing some video games from time to time.
Nurture a sense of humor about things, and look for regular opportunities to laugh
Throughout all of human history, humor has been one of the primary tools at people’s disposal for helping them to deal with often hard and tense situations, while maintaining a more relaxed and light-hearted attitude.
It’s all too easy in life to end up taking situations – and yourself – gravely seriously. But even the most intensely serious situations out there, i.e. things that are matters of life and death, need to be tempered and dealt with in a more even-keeled way, in many cases. If you just face everything head-on with grim stoicism and severity, there’s a good chance that you will have a breakdown.
There’s a reason why dark humor has been regularly utilized by soldiers in war, for example – and it’s not because they don’t take the situation they’re in seriously.
Look for regular opportunities to laugh, in everyday life. Seek out the humor in each moment, share jokes and funny stories with your friends and relatives, and enjoy a bit of comedy from time to time.
Be careful about the kind of information you regularly take in
One serious truism of psychology is that a major factor in how you perceive and experience the world around you, will be what you choose to focus on and look for.
The famous “Invisible Gorilla” psychological experiment split participants into two teams and instructed them to pass a ball back and forth, and to count how many times the ball was passed. In the middle of the experiment, a man in a gorilla suit walked directly into the center of the game. Remarkably, many participants hadn’t noticed the “gorilla” at all, when later asked about it.
These days, we all have streams of information bombarding and distracting us 24 hours a day – and the type of information that we allowed to dominate our consciousness will have a severe impact on how we experience and view the world as a whole.
For that reason, you need to be extremely careful about the kind of information you regularly take in. If you constantly ruminate on doom and gloom predictions and ugly back-and-forths online, you will be anything but light-hearted.
Make sure that you primarily take in the sort of information that you want to actively shape your life and your perspective on life.
Find avenues to express your own creativity through
Expressing any creative impulses you might have can be an excellent way of helping to keep you optimistic, relaxed, and positively minded about life. In short, it can be a great way to ensure that your orientation towards life is more light-hearted.
There are all sorts of different avenues out there that you could use for expressing your own creativity. You could try writing fiction, recording your own music at home, doing some painting, or making pottery, or any number of other things.
In any case, it can be truly life changing to really connect yourself with the wild and wonderful world of imagination, rather than spending all your time being completely focused on the technical considerations of life – like taxes and budgeting.
Take self-care seriously
Things like proper nutrition, good and adequate sleep, and proper work-life balance, can make a truly tremendous impact on how you feel, and on how capable you are of genuinely enjoying everyday life.
Self-care is something that should be taken seriously, in other words. Unfortunately, though, it is very common for busy people – and especially for ambitious people – to completely burn themselves out while leaving nothing on the table, and nothing in the gas tank.
Resting, feeding yourself properly, and doing what you can to catch up on your sleep, however, are not decadent luxuries. They are things that will make you healthier, happier, better company for the people you care about, and will also ensure that you are able to maintain a healthy, balanced, and substantially more light-hearted approach to life as a whole.
Don’t buy into the idea that it’s necessary, or desirable, to completely drive yourself into the ground.