Life without social interaction, a daily routine, or even a job can take a toll on your mental health. As the pandemic wears on, people are starting to discover that they have the quarantine blues, which can include symptoms similar to anxiety or depression. With this new normal, life has become increasingly uncertain, and people are feeling taxed emotionally, mentally, and physically.
“The quarantine blues have become increasingly common as individuals continue to grieve the loss of normal life, tolerate anxiety, and feel increasingly isolated,” says psychologist Nicole Issa, Psy.D. “Some signs include changes in appetite and sleep, loss of interest in the things you used to enjoy, low mood, and/or a sense of hopelessness.”
If you’re experiencing the quarantine blues, you’re not alone. Although it’s difficult to turn your mood around when you can’t engage in your typical routine, there are some ways you can work to improve your mental health that are still pandemic-friendly.
Here are five tips to fight the quarantine blues.
Create your own structure
You might not be able to go into an office every day or make many plans, but you can create your own routine for consistency. “Planning and sticking to a schedule is extremely important,” says Issa. “We are all used to the structure provided by leaving and coming home from work, designated meal times, and social plans. Even though you likely do not need to wake up at a certain time and get dressed for the day, it is very helpful to do those things.”
Working from home can lead to the blurring of work/life balance, says Issa, and you may find yourself never taking a break. This could lead to burnout, anxiety, depression, and problems in relationships. Give yourself time off, and consider incorporating physical activity. “Whether you take a time-out to stretch, practice kick-boxing, take the dog for a walk, or engage in an online yoga class, frequent exercise is a sure-fire way to boost your mood,” says psychologist Dr. Carla Marie Manly.
Cutting down on excessive use of social media, tech time, and phone interactions can help with the quarantine blues, especially since technological forms of connection can end feel unfulfilling at times. “If you’re feeling stressed by too many Zoom sessions, phone calls, or texts, simply let others know that you need a digital time-out to protect your sanity,” says Manly.
Avoid distractions when engaging in self-care
Be mindful of multitasking when engaging in mood-boosting habits. “Try to get connected to one activity at a time,” says psychotherapist Meghan Watson, M.A. RP. “If you’re listening to a podcast, just listen. If you’re reading a book, try to minimize having other things around to pull you out of your book. Sometimes stress and anxiety and the push for productivity can manifest itself even during our times of rest and can suck the joy out of them.”
Accept your feelings
It’s tempting to try to push away feelings of anxiety or to beat yourself up for feeling down, but this can actually make you feel worse. “Validate the experience you are having in the moment,” says Watson. “Remember that your feelings are for feeling, and there is not a wrong or right way to experience them. Practicing being present with your emotions (good, bad, and everything in between) trains us to be non-judgmental of our experiences and open up to opportunities for growth.”
What are some ways you have been managing the quarantine blues? Share your tips in the comments below.
xx, The FabFitFun Team