The devastating effects of COVID-19 have made their way on to every major headline for the past 8 months – the death toll, job loss, and living virtually have taken permanent residence at top of mind for most Americans, myself included. This has caused us to overlook one of the most prominent consequences of the pandemic, the greatest mental health, addiction, and overdose crisis in American history. We are fighting an epidemic within a pandemic, meaning it’s now more important than ever to take your mental health temperature and get the much-needed self-care that you deserve.
I want to start off by saying it is ok to not be ok – you are not alone. As someone who has grown up with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and has years of therapy under her belt, I’d love to share with you the ways I have been kind to my mind in quarantine.
1. Stay Connected & Ask for Help
In the era of social isolation, connecting with others is vital. Reach out to family and friends via phone call, zoom, text, or even social media. If needed, find a support group to provide yourself a sense of community and empowerment as talking to others going through the same experience can make distancing less dreadful. Also keep in mind that you could be helping someone else while also helping yourself by staying in touch.
When you find that your mental health is getting in the way of daily life, it’s time to ask for help. Help comes in many different shapes and sizes: friends, spiritual leaders, doctors, employee assistance programs, counselors, etc., so reach out and be honest about what you are struggling with.
2. Maintain a Routine
Consistency is key and predictability can make you feel more in control. I wake up every day at the same time and get my day started with a morning workout which helps me clear my mind. Maintain a regular sleep, meal, exercise, and work/school schedule, but also be sure to set aside time for the activities that make you happiest.
3. Set Your Priorities
No matter what they say, you don’t need to come out of quarantine having learned 5 new languages. Set goals for yourself each day and feel free to celebrate each victory, no matter how small. I write myself a daily checklist of tasks I want to accomplish throughout the day and find it rewarding to check them off as complete. There will be days you achieve more than others, and that is perfectly fine! Not every day needs to be monumental, but it can be a step in the right direction.
While it’s vital to upgrade the attention to your mental health now, integrating and maintaining self-care strategies into daily life will always be relevant. Having these tools in your arsenal will allow you to better cope with any challenge that comes your way. Always remember, self-care isn’t selfish because YOU are important.