7 tips to keep mentally healthy while in lockdown or self-isolating
Whether you’ve just come out of lockdown, or being forced back in to lockdown – you’re not alone in feeling like that your mental health has (or is) suffering from self-isolation.
It’s a tough situation for everyone, all over the world, and seems we are not out of the woods just yet. To best prepare for what we can control, there are a number of activities and habits that you can follow to avoid any decline in your mental and physical health while stuck at home.
This article shares 7 ways of how best to keep mentally healthy while self-isolating at home.
1. Limit your social media screen time
These are uncertain times and the media coverage can be overwhelming. By limiting your social media you can filter some of the barrage and panic. This isn’t about not staying informed, but more selectively choosing when you want to update yourself. For example, try 30 minutes twice a day as some down time.
And for important insights and information around health and COVID-19, we recommend getting your news from trusted sources such as official government or health websites, not a Facebook newsfeed of Facebook page where opinion pieces are just that, someone’s opinion – and not providing actual facts and data.
Tip: To avoid a bad sleep, avoid screen time entirely before bed, particularly social media.
2. Find some sunshine
It’s important to get a daily dose of Vitamin D, so finding any pockets of sunshine is vital to your health and mental mindset. Of course, seeking sunshine may be more challenging for some depending on where you live or the weather, but bear with us. If the weather permits, make a conscious effort to find some sunshine if only for 5 minutes. Indoors or outdoors, whatever you can get – whether you’re inside the house by the window, out in the backyard, or on balcony. Vitamin D is best absorbed through your wrists, so give your arms a stretch and relax for 5-10 minutes.
3. Keep social by speaking to friends and family
With proven studies linking isolation to depression and loneliness, having to self-isolate can be just as detrimental to your mental health. Even if it’s a short-sharp lockdown (as some States ‘promise’), it’s important to keep social and maintain frequent communication with your friends and family.
Keep your happiness levels high by organising video calls (Skype or FaceTime are all free and easy to use) with your friends and loved ones. Make an effort. Organise to have dinner together from your respective homes, or enjoy a drink over the phone whilst catching up. Play scrabble or chess online against your friend(s) and even chat on the phone while you play – it can be quite fun and entertaining. And be sure to check in on any friends or family living alone, as some may need a bit more encouragement to being social (without knowing it).
For more information on online communities or social pages for the over 60s, visit our Be Social page.
4. Stick to a daily routine and include exercise
During a lockdown, it’s important to maintain as normal a routine as possible at home. Set your alarm and get up at the same time each day, and if possible have a dedicated area for your work, reading emails and exercise area. Make sure you take a lunch break, and pick up the phone to a friend or family member. This will help your brain distinguish between work time and personal time.
Keeping a routine with exercise will also help break up the day, keep your body healthy and your brain active. It can be as little as 10-15 minutes, and you may need to be creative with space if you normally venture outside or to a gym. Short sharp exercise is better than none. Enjoy those endorphins. And if you enjoy a wine or beer at night, at least you’ve earnt it!
And if you’re stuck for ideas on exercising at home, read our article free exercise videos on YouTube for the over 60s.
5. Try meditation
If exercise isn’t your thing or it’s too difficult inside the home, why not try meditation? If you’ve never mastered meditation in the past, now is the time to try again. There are countless apps that will support you such as Calm, Insight Timer and Headspace. All apps offer a range of meditation styles or techniques. You may prefer a guided meditation or to simply sit with music.
Another form of meditation is through adult colouring books. Many find colouring in therapeutic helps de-stress. Not to mention being creative and stimulating the brain. There are proven studies that connect health and wellbeing benefits to colouring in. Read the 5 health benefits linked to adult colouring books. If you’re keen to get creative through colouring, we have an article on getting started with colouring and we also have our own colouring book which has been a favourite with our subscribers – Birds, Sea Life & Animal Portraits.
You’ve got the time, and your mental clarity and sleep should also improve as a result.
6. Learn a new skill or find a hobby
Now is the perfect time to try a new skill or explore a new hobby! Maybe you’ve always thought you would be good at chess? Always wanted to try embroidery? Curious about how to make bread from scratch? Have an old guitar that you played for a month and life got in the way? Now is the right time, and the best way to keep interested and positive. Not only will you feel accomplished learning something new, but it will keep your brain busy during this downtime.
Still not convinced? Read our article 13 benefits of learning a musical instrument as we get older or Powerful benefits of learning a musical instrument after 60.
7. Play games to keep your mind active
Let’s be honest, solitaire by yourself or on the computer is never as fun as playing with someone. So why not broaden your horizons with free crossword puzzles or unlimited games of chess. There are many free online versions and mobile apps (such as Chess.com), not to mention in the daily newspapers (once your tired of reading about politics)!
If you’re mental health is declining
If you feel your mental health issues are declining, and/or struggling with stress, anxiety, and bad thoughts, seek help. You are not alone. We suggest you talk to your doctor first, but there are a lot of places to seek anonymous help if you need. Below are some helpful (and free) mental health services.
- Beyond Blue (24/7): 1300 224 636 – beyondblue.org.au
- Lifeline (24/7 ): 13 11 14 – lifeline.org.au
- MensLine (24/7): 1300 78 99 78 – mensline.org.au
- Suicide Call Back Service (24/7): 1300 659 467 – suicidecallbackservice.org.au
Subscribe to our newsletter