Seven Ways To Stay Sane When Staying Home
The COVID-19 epidemic is pushing us all into uncharted territory. Even if you aren’t sick, many of us have to stay home far more than we are used to for any number of reasons. Maybe you are in one of the vulnerable categories of people. Maybe your work has mandatory work-from-home days right now. Or maybe your kids’ school has closed and you have to stay home with them.
Whatever the reason, many of us are staying home far more than we are used to. Our options for activities are limited – everything seems to be closed or closing – and cabin fever is lurking, ready to pounce and make us go crazy! As a counselor, I have seven recommendations for things you can do to stay sane while you are staying home.
1. Social distancing doesn’t have to mean social disconnect. Stay in touch with your friends and loved ones. Call people up, or, even better, use the video chat options on your phone, Facebook, or your email. Stay in touch. Make it a goal to talk to someone outside of your house at least once a day. If you know people in vulnerable groups or who live alone, make it a point to reach out to them specifically.
2. Limit your news intake. While it is important to stay informed, the news broadcasts tend to focus heavily on the worst parts of the epidemic – the death tolls, the fears, the shortages of necessary supplies, etc. Watching them at length moves from being a good way to stay informed to a good way to build your anxiety. Limit yourself to check for updates at most once or twice a day. Otherwise, resist the temptation to check the news.
3. Exercise. Find a way to stay active! If you have exercise equipment at home, use it. If you don’t, go for long walks in your neighborhood or apartment complex (just greet anyone you run into from a distance, and you should be fine). Climb up and down the stairs in your house, walk laps, do push-ups… in short, do whatever you can to stay active. Study after study has demonstrated that exercise plays an important role in managing anxiety and depression. In a time of uncertainty and isolation, exercise is more important than ever!
4. Eat healthy. Just like during a hurricane, the temptation during the epidemic is to snack. But, just like exercise, a healthy diet is an important part of a healthy mind. A few treats are fine, but make sure you are still getting your fruits and veggies. A healthy diet will help you manage any stress and anxiety you may be experiencing.
5. Pick a project. When you are stuck at home, the days can seem kind of pointless. You might get restless and on edge – you want to be doing something! Pick a project. Having something to do with your hands will give you a goal to work towards and help you feel like you aren’t wasting your time.
It could be something around the house that you’ve been meaning to get to – now is the time to fix that squeaky door! It could be something creative – pick up that paintbrush you haven’t used in ages! Whatever it is, a project will give you something to focus on and a goal to work towards.
6. Establish a schedule. Schedules give our lives a sense of normalcy; they help us feel safe and steady. When the world seems unsteady, it is extra important to build that sense of security for yourself. If your old routine isn’t an option right now, adapt it for your new circumstances. Set your alarm for the same time every morning, eat breakfast, have set times for exercising, working on your project, connecting with friends, and spending time with God.
7. Connect with God. Last but definitely not least, make sure you are spending time with God each day. Our greatest security, our greatest strength, and our greatest source of sanity is God. Lean on him. The Bible tells us to cast all our anxieties on God because he cares for us. This epidemic is the perfect time to put that into practice! There is only so much you can do to control the situation, but God can do everything. Bring all your worries to God and then leave them with him. Whenever you find yourself worrying, pray about it and then choose to think about something else.
This list is by no means complete! We would love to hear your suggestions on how to stay sane while staying home. Feel free to add them in the comments below.