With the coronavirus continuing to spread, billions of people are left inside their homes to quarantine. COVID-19 is more than a threat to our physical well-being; it is impacting our mental health too. Many are unable to see friends and family and are struggling with being inside all day long.
Rates of depression and anxiety are on the rise during the coronavirus quarantine. According to the Washington Post, “Online therapy company Talkspace reported a 65 percent jump in clients since mid-February.” Fortunately, there are a variety of actions people can take to enhance their mental health during the coronavirus.
1. Get Good Sleep
Many people do not realize that sleep problems are correlated with their mental health. For instance, a key symptom in depression and anxiety is insomnia, a condition where people have difficulty falling or staying asleep. As everyone is anxious and stressed right now, their levels of insomnia may also be on the rise, which could negatively impact their physical health. By not getting good sleep, our bodies are not able to repair themselves after a long day, which weakens our immune systems.
To get a good night’s sleep, we recommend that you minimize exposure to blue light, such as refraining from technology or screens, a few hours before bed. Additionally, separating the bedroom from work and television allows us to leave external stressors at the doorway and focus on sleeping. Simple resolutions are to leave the computer in the office and the TV only in the living room. Most importantly, try to keep to a consistent sleep schedule of 7-8 hours per night. This is done by going to bed at a decent hour and getting up early to start your day.
2. Stay Active
Staying active keeps us healthy mentally and physically. 30 minutes of activity every day can significantly help your mental health and boost your immune system. Whether it be taking a walk around the neighborhood or exercising at home, it allows people to focus on something else and forget about the coronavirus. Other activities include meditation, yoga, and bicycle riding, which all are proven to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
In addition, we strongly encourage you to go outside. As we are inside for most of our days now, it is great to step outside to get some fresh air and natural light.
3. Connect with Family and Friends
Being able to connect with the people who mean the most to us can improve our mental health and overall happiness. We are all in this together and we have more time than ever to talk to our loved ones. Even though there are restrictions on seeing family and friends, we are fortunate to be able to say hello from 6 feet away or through online platforms.
Reach out to an old friend and see how they are doing or check up on your family. Any form of social interaction during quarantine, in person or not, improves our mental health.
4. Eat Healthy
Eating a healthy diet is more than improving your physical health, but your mental well-being as well. At SHI, we recommend that people refrain from eating meat, eggs, dairy products, refined sugars and processed foods. A diet full of these foods can worsen both physical and emotional pre-existing conditions.
Instead, we suggest a macrobiotic diet. A macrobiotic diet is known for its anti-aging effect and for minimizing the potential risk of developing degenerative illnesses such as cancer and diabetes. In addition to reducing risks of anxiety and depression.
Here are macrobiotic diet guidelines:
- Plan every meal around cooked grains and grain products
- Familiarize yourself with the variety of grains available at health-food stores.
- Eat at least one vegetable dish with every meal.
- Eat a wide variety of vegetables dishes, both cooked, and raw salads.
- Try to eat an equal amount or preferably more vegetables than grains.
- Incorporate a variety of healthy foods into your diet
- Eat one bowl of soup every day.
- Eat naturally pickled and fermented foods
- Remember that you do not have to eat meat, poultry, or dairy for complete nutrition. Plants, not animals, are the best source of protein and other essential nutrients.
5. Have an Eating Schedule
Eating at the same time every day is essential to regulating our mood and energy levels. Having a mealtime schedule allows our bodies to best prepare to metabolize our food intake and stabilize blood sugar levels. We recommend having breakfast by 8:30, lunch between 11-1, and dinner between 5-7:30. If you eat at different times, snack all day or stress eat, however, then you will gain weight and feel poorly and sluggish.
6. Have Meals with No Distractions
By being more mindful and present in the moment, several individuals have reported that their mental wellness has improved. When eating, it is best to avoid distractions, such as TV, social media, and the news. These can increase troubling and depressing thought processes, which may lead to stress eating later on. Instead, we recommend that individuals appreciate the food in front of them and enjoy each bite.
7. Shut Off Social Media and TV
During the last few months, social media and TV programs have bombarded people with coronavirus information and worrisome news. As we learn more about COVID-19, it is natural to want to listen and learn more. This behavior may be detrimental to your mental health. It is healthy and recommended to set boundaries with social media and TV usage. Recognize when it is appropriate to turn them off, especially if tuning them out for a few days or hours is best for your mental wellness.
8. Do an Activity You Enjoy
Doing what you love increases your happiness, which in turn positively impacts your mental health. Whether it be painting, meditating, reading, or playing an instrument doing what you enjoy makes quarantine more fun.
SHI is Here to Help
At SHI, we care about strengthening your mental health during the coronavirus. Not only do macrobiotic diets enhance our physical well-being, but it also provides opportunities to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety for optimal mental wellness.
Contact SHI today to learn more about what you can do to take care of your mental health during the coronavirus.