The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the world this past year and has flipped everyone's lives upside down. It has been a death sentence for extroverts who thrive on social interactions and heaven on earth for the introverts who have been dreaming of the day where the government forces them to stay inside, where all there is to do is watch Netflix (joking).
Regardless of the degree, this past year has affected you. It is essential to not only keep your body healthy but your mind as well. It is okay if you have not been keeping up with yourself as much as you would like to, or maybe you kept up a little too much, and it’s starting to get to you. There are a few quick and easy changes you can make to your current lifestyle that may seem minimal but could drastically improve your overall mental wellness during these times.
“Just a few minutes,” you tell yourself while opening up Instagram. “I just want to see what’s going on today.” And then the next thing you can remember is coming to on the couch three hours later with a sore thumb and a stiff neck. We have all been there. It’s quite literally a fact that checking your phone has become an addiction, and it's hard to put it down. It's hard not to get sucked into the social media rabbit hole, but you have the power to set the phone down for a little bit. It doesn't have to be all at once where you don't use your phone, laptop, or television all day. Start small, begin with a quick 15-minute break from all your screens each day to be completely present in the moment. Take note of where you are and question if this is what you want to be doing. Start a new hobby, read a book, go outside, stay off of your screen a little bit each day and watch the changes come.
2. Eat The “Right” Foods
Now the foods vary on a case-by-case basis. Still, it is agreed that implementing more whole foods into your diet and specific brain foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, dark leafy vegetables specifically, will impact your overall well-being. Seeds, nuts, beans, legumes, and healthy fats are also ones to incorporate into your diet. These foods could have a relatively immediate effect on your mood when paired with an active lifestyle and a balanced diet. What goes into your body is what comes out. So when you drop crap down your gullet, you're going to pump some crap out too. No one is saying to go vegan and start eating tofu for every meal. Simply start by cutting out fast food, processed sugars, and other inflammatory foods that make you feel slow and sluggish. Making your own McDonald’s meal from fresh grass-fed beef, baking your fries instead of frying them, and replacing that large Coke for seltzer water is a better alternative to the mystery ingredients of the McHeartburn.
3. Connect with Loved Ones
If you are reading this article, you most likely have your zoom, skype, or facetime ready to connect for work or chat with a friend. Do it! Call your loved ones and take the extra time to communicate with them. Create a weekly call with your family or friends to catch up and entertain one another. At the very least, you will get some comic relief watching your parents try to figure out how to unmute themselves. It’s good to converse and keep your social skills when the world returns to some form of normalcy. If you don’t have any of these applications, then just call them from your cell phone, home phone, rotary phone, or the thought to be an extinct payphone. It doesn't matter how; just make the call. It can be such a privilege to communicate with your friends or loved ones during this time. Please take advantage of it.
4. Step Outside
Take a step outside. Just for a few minutes a day, if you are working from home and have been accustomed to an indoor lifestyle, time can slip away, and you might not be getting outside as much as you should. The sun has so many healing properties that we as human beings naturally benefit from. Take a break and let the sun hit your face for just a few minutes. Especially sunlight before noon is best. You will feel revitalized, rejuvenated, and energized. Chop some wood, and if you don’t chop wood because they sell it prepackaged at the store, stand next to your friend while he chops some wood and encourage him while you sit in a lawn chair basking in the sunshine.
5. Stop Numbing Out
Don’t overuse alcohol or other substances to numb out the feelings you are going through. Overindulging in a few nightly drinks can quickly lead to a serious problem. Using substances as a crutch to numb yourself to reality is extremely unhealthy and can lead to possible medical issues and depression or anxiety. Talk to someone, reach out, and ask for help if you need it. There is no shame in struggling with your emotions during these times, so do your best to correct your lifestyle before it begins to spiral. If you or a loved one have substance abuse issues, please reach out and ask for help. If needed, call the substance abuse hotline at 1-800-662-4367.
6. Add Some Greenery to Your Home
A few plants scattered throughout your house bring a bit of nature into your home and gives you a little added fresh air which is always welcomed. You may not have opened a window in a few months, so why not bring nature to you. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to turn your home into a rainforest. A bright-colored plant or just some plain old greenery added to an area that is continuously in your vision will add a bit of life and energy to your day. If you feel like you kill every plant that has ever been so unlucky as to end up in your care, get a cactus; they only need water once a week.
7. Clean Up and Clear Out
Most everyone gets that feeling of accomplishment and stress relief after tidying up their room. It’s a small victory but a victory nonetheless. In a day and age where it is not the norm to entertain guests at home, it can be easy to let the state of your living quarters diminish. Stop pushing it off. You and I both know you weren't letting those dishes “soak”. Go scrape off the oatmeal that's stuck to the bowl for the past week; that’s disgusting. Make your bed every day, vacuum your living room every other day, clean out your closet, throw out those empty liquor bottles hanging out over your kitchen cabinets. Whatever you may think, it’s not decorative, that’s just one step away from being on hoarders. Taking only the slightest bit of pride in your environment will transform the house or apartment into your home and a place you will look forward to going back to after a long day or a place to stay inside all day. Oh, and crack a window every once in a while. The fresh air won’t kill you.
Just implementing these seven changes to your current lifestyle could change everything. Watch as you become a happier, less stressed, and more clear-minded individual. Sometimes it takes outside influence for us to realize it's time to look within and check up on ourselves. Taking care of your mental health is just as critical as your physical health, and once you understand the two work conjointly, the process becomes that much clearer. Spring is upon us, and it's time to start moving, get up, and dominate each day.