The world seems like a completely different place than it was a mere couple of months ago. For many, it’s almost unrecognizable. To make matters worse, there is so much uncertainty on when things will go back to being “normal.” COVID-19 and now the riots — suffice it to say — this whole thing is really doing a number and all of us emotionally, mentally, and physically.
There is, thankfully, a silver lining. You can create a COVID personal wellness program that can help you cope with everything that’s going on while building up your resilience.
Attend to your physical health and safety.
The first place to start when it comes to developing a COVID personal wellness program is obviously your physical health and safety. I’m sure you’ve come across this information countless times in the past. But, it certainly bears repeating.
Health and safety.
For starters, wash your hands! You may be tired of hearing this. But, that’s a simple reason why. Soap annihilates the virus. Well, as Pall Thordarson, a Professor in Chemistry at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, in The Guardian that this is “because the virus is a self-assembled nanoparticle in which the weakest link is the lipid (fatty) bilayer. Soap dissolves the fat membrane, and the virus falls apart like a house of cards and dies – or rather, we should say it becomes inactive as viruses aren’t really alive.”
Another way to keep yourself protected? Limit your time around others. I know. Staying at home can be tiring. But, social distancing is imperative right now. So, postpone non-essential appointments and try to stock up on groceries two weeks at a time. If possible, have them delivered to you or chose curbside to go.
Speaking of food, fuel your body mindfully right now. That means eating foods that reduce anxiety and strengthen your immune system. That means limiting meals and snacks that contain high amounts of sugar and fructose corn syrup, as well as vegetable oil and refined carbohydrates. Instead, consume items that contain mainly Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and zinc, such as fruits and veggies, nuts, fatty fish, and yogurt. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water.
Besides a healthy diet, make sure that you get enough physical activity. Even though your gym might be closed, there are more than enough exercises that you can do from home. You may also want to upgrade your home office by investing in a standing desk that you aren’t living a sedentary lifestyle.
Even better, though, get outside and go for a walk or bike ride. It’s actually been found that spending 120 minutes outside per week is associated with good health and well-being. And, as noted in TIme, even light activities like walking and housework can be just as effective.
Staying physically active doesn’t just your body in top-tip shape. It also bolsters your immune system and combats stress and anxiety. It also gives you an energy boost so that you’ll remain productive.
Finally, make sure that you’re getting enough sleep. I think this is often overlooked. However, getting a good’s night rest is vital to your health and safety. That’s probably easier said than done though with so much going on right now. But, you can try the following techniques to help you fall asleep:
- Shut off screens at least 30 minutes before bed.
- Eat a snack like a slice of cheese or apple slices.
- Write out a to-do-list for tomorrow.
- Don’t overdo it with the afternoon naps.
- Set a bedtime time and stick with it.
- Exercise, preferably in the morning.
Make your mental health and well-being a priority.
Let’s not sugarcoat this. COVID-19 is taking a serious toll on our mental health. As such, you need to make this a priority.
Physical activity, eating healthy, and sleep will help. But, for many of us, these typical ways to cope with stress and anxiety aren’t cutting it. After all, we’re in a completely different world than a couple of months ago.
How can you take care of your mental health and well-being during these uncertain times? Well, here are some suggestions:
- Stick to your routine since it provides structure and sense of normalcy. If your previous routine has changed, start a new one.
- Keep contributing. If you’re fortunate enough to work from home, then keep on trucking. Just remember to set boundaries and not work around the clock. If you aren’t working as much, then look for ways to share your unique talents with friends, family, or nonprofits. My sister, as an example, is crafty. So, she’s been making masks and selling them online with a portion of the proceeds going to charity.
- Reach out to others. Technology has made it incredibly easy to interact with others remotely. Check-in with friends, family, and co-workers so that you can fight back again the risks of isolation. If no one else is around, then hang out with your pet.
- Do meaningful things, such as learning, getting around to a project you’ve been putting off, or volunteering virtually.
- Keep doing the things that you love like a hobby or indulging in a little self-care.
- Use this time as an opportunity to start a new and healthy habit.
- Focus on the positive by writing in a gratitude journal or reading uplifting and inspiring news stories.
- Keep your sense of humor. Yes, this is a serious time. But, Gallow’s humor has long been a way for people to cope with a crisis. Some would even say it can be cathartic.
- Download an app like Calm or Headspace to help you meditate.
- Make use of teletherapy or emergency hotlines if you’re feeling overwhelmed or like you’re going to harm yourself.
Keep your environment clean and organized.
Things are already tense enough, so why add any additional stress and anxiety to your life right now?
But, that’s precisely what clutter can do. As Deanna Ritchie wrote in a previous Calendar article, one “study shows a link between clutter and procrastination.” Several others “have also found that clutter increases stress, decreases productivity, and makes it difficult to unwind.” As if that weren’t enough, “clutter can encourage bad habits, such as unhealthy eating and sleep problems.”
“And, most worrying to me is that clutter can clog neural networks,” adds Deanna. “As a result, you’ll be slower and less efficient in processing information.” Moreover, decluttering can provide you with a sense of control — which is certainly in short supply these days.
Oh yeah, Keeping a clean environment, like wiping down high-touch objects, such as doorknobs and faucets, is another way to protect you against the virus.
Make decluttering and cleaning a part of your routine. For instance, tidy up your workspace. During your downtime, clean an area of your home (and your vehicle) and either trash, recycle or donate the items you longer need.
But, clutter isn’t just restricted to physical items. You could also clean out your inbox, unsubscribe from newsletters you no longer need, and remove unnecessary files from your computer.
The same is also true of toxic people. Instead of spending your valuable time with those who drain you emotionally, surround yourself with people who are positive and supportive.
Address your financial and insurance concerns.
Before COVID, Americans were most stressed about money. Considering how this pandemic is negatively affecting people’s work and finances, these concerns will only get worse. However, there are ways that you can manage financial stress during COVID-19.
- Create a budget and stick with it.
- Avoid adding additional debt.
- See if any government programs can help.
- If applicable, find ways to add revenue streams. Maybe you could make masks online and sell them like my sister or deliver takeout orders during the weekend.
For more information, turn to trusted sources like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. You should also speak with your accountant or financial advisor to develop a plan.
On top of getting your finances in order, know what your health benefits are during this crisis.
Stay informed, but also make time to unplug.
There is a lot of misinformation being spread around regarding COVID-19. And, that could be potentially dangerous — for some even life-threatening. What’s more, as more research is being conducted about the virus, we’re finding out new information almost daily. Besides, you also want to stay informed on how the pandemic is impacting both your work and personal lives.
At the same time, we all deserve a break from all things COVID. I mean, between the news, talking to others remotely, and writing articles like this, I feel like I’ve been wearing down. There’s just no reprieve. And, it’s been really taking a toll on my well-being.
Fortunately, I have found easy ways to give myself a break. For example, I take my dog for a walk every afternoon after lunch — sans phone, smartwatch, or any other piece of tech. I’m usually not that productive at that time anyway. So, I use this time to get the blood flowing, enjoy the outdoors, and clear my head.
You can also try establishing tech-zones in your homes, such as the dining room and bedroom. I’m also a fan of blocking apps at certain times or just turning off my phone completely when I’m working or enjoying a downtime activity like reading. But, if that makes you uncomfortable, then set time limits for news and social media consumption.
Here’s something else that’s helped me out a lot. Talk about something else other then COVID-19! Let’s say the next time your talking to a friend on the phone, ask them if there are any new podcasts or documentaries they can recommend. Talk about a new hobby you started.
If you need help, seek it out immediately. Heck, make plans about getting together once you physically can.
If you’re at home with family or roommates, go around and ask if they learned anything new today. What are they grateful for? And what are their plans for tomorrow?
Student at UC Berkeley, currently working on a degree in Electrical Engineering/Computer Sciences and Business Administration. Experienced in CSX, productivity management, and chatbot implementation.