***Originally posted on DBT Skills***
So, shit has hit the fan and pretty much wherever you are, COVID-19 is too. Grocery store shelves are empty and people are getting sent home from work by the droves. If you’ve been instructed to work from home, temporarily unemployed, or are under literal quarantine, these tips can help you maintain your mental health in these trying times.
1. Cope Ahead
If you haven’t been quarantined yet and have time to prepare for staying at home, cope ahead. Coping ahead is figuring out what vulnerabilities you might face and planning how you’re going to deal with them. Do you struggle with loneliness? Are you quarantined with someone you fight with? Do you often feel bored? Do you have eating issues? Ask yourself these types of questions. Each answer is a vulnerability that you need to address. Many of the following items will help you do so.
Note: if you have eating issues, make sure to stock your pantry with items you will actually eat, not aspirational foods. If you’re left at home with nothing you’re willing to eat you’re in big trouble. QUARANTINE IS NOT AN EXCUSE TO USE BEHAVIORS!
2. Have An Activity Arsenal
Make sure you have plenty of stuff to do. If you’re able to work from home, awesome, that’ll use some of your empty time. Gather all the usuals: books, movies, comics, tv shows. Dive deeper down on your watchlists/readlists. Have any hobbies? Go back to whatever you used to do before life got too busy. Go back to drawing, finish that sweater you were knitting. Or try something new! Learn to crochet! Do a puzzle! Some of this takes planning and resources but you can also download apps that let you color or try your hand at graphic design or zine-making.
Once you’ve determined the things you CAN do, put them all on a list and stick that bad boy on your fridge so you can go to it when you’re feeling bored.
Note: the library has great resources for digital media. You can find shows/movies to watch as well as things to read online. Utilize those library cards to the max- they’re not just for physical books!
3. Make A Schedule
Specifically a sleep schedule. Quarantine may seem like the perfect opportunity to sleep your life away but your mental health will suffer if you don’t regulate your sleeping. Get up and go to sleep at the same time each day. Pencil in a modest nap.
If you can, schedule other things. I know that’s asking a lot though. But if you’re someone who feeds off the structure of life or school, all this empty time may destabilize your mental health. If that’s you, try to schedule sleep time and watch time and read time and social time. It’ll help I swear.
4. Have Patience
You may be quarantined with a roommate or a family that you don’t always get along with. If so, have as much patience as you can with them. They’re just as stir-crazy as you are. Avoid them if you’re getting fed up. If you fight, there’s really nowhere to escape to. Use your conflict resolution and interpersonal skills to the max.
Be patient the situation too. It’s not ideal. In fact it fucking sucks. But it’s the best way to protect yourself and those around you. Like really, science is all in on this one. You may feel confident in your ability to survive the virus, but what about your 80-year-old grandma or your immunocompromised cousin? We gotta protect them too. So post up and radically accept this shit.
Also be patient with yourself. This may seem like a great time to get that thing you’ve always been wanting to do done. And it can be! But you don’t need to be productive all the time. You don’t need to produce anything to make this time “worthwhile.” You’re allowed to just be. It’s most important to take care of yourself. If you’re really struggling against productivity, consider it productive to fight capitalism by doing nothing!
5. Be “Social”
Just because you’re isolated doesn’t mean you can’t be social. Call your family. FaceTime your friends. Do it every damn day. I know it’s not the same but it’s the best we’ve got right now. Schedule social time into each day and stick to it. This is a perfect opportunity to reach out to the people you’ve been meaning to for the past few months but haven’t. Call your grandpa. Call that friend from college you’ve been catching up with. Call a friend that you’re worried about. Even if you’re not feeling very social, it could make or save someone else’s day.
6. Write Down One Reason You’re Glad You’re Alive Every Day
It’s scientifically proven that expressing gratitude regularly can help improve your mood. It may be hard to come up with a whole daily list of reasons to be grateful when you’re quarantined during a pandemic. So let’s start small. Keep a list and every day add one reason you’re glad you’re alive. Think of it like Rey scratching a hashmark onto her wall for every day she’s been on Jakku. But like in a more positive way. Each reason is a day you’ve been quarantined but you may find yourself wanting to keep up the habit once this is all over. Even if it’s hard at first, you’ll find that you actually can come up with a reason a day. The truth is that the reasons are limitless. Just think of all the doggos out there left to pet!