Limited social interaction. No break from kids. Conversations through masks. In this age of COVID-19, realities that were once unimaginable are starting to feel strangely normal.
In some ways, this is a good thing, forcing us to find ways to cope. But for many, it has become harder and harder to maintain a healthy outlook. If you’re employed in construction – a field with above-average depression and suicide rates – you may need to work even harder to have a healthy mindset in these trying times.
The good news? In some cases, feeling good really is a matter of making small changes that require minimal effort, time, and money. Below are a few changes you can make that might go a long way toward improving your mental well-being. If you do not feel better or just not inspired to feel better, always remember: Help is available.
1. Get outside.
Time outdoors decreases stress, blood pressure, and heart rates. Instead of screen time , which often has the opposite effect, consider spending time in your yard, a park, in the woods, or just walking around the block after dinner. Relaxing outdoors is good for your mental health even if you spend time outdoors during work hours.
2. Limit screen time.
For most of us, screen time has skyrocketed since COVID-19 reached the United States. If work and staying social has you staring at screens all day, try to stay away from screens the rest of the time. Podcasts and phone calls are great screen-free alternatives to TV and social media.
3. Stay connected to real people.
Watching TV or reading books is no substitute for the real thing. Go out of your way to contact friends, family, and acquaintances through video conferencing, phone, or in person. Just remember to follow the social distance guidelines by standing six (or more) feet away, Even something as simple as chatting with a neighbor about the weather can positively affect your mood.
4. Do something you’ve always wanted to do.
Scan your to-do list, bucket list, or memory, and pick one thing you can do while social distancing. Maybe you’ve been waiting for the perfect time to call a childhood friend, build a shed, listen to a certain album, or write a letter to someone who made an impact on your life. Beyond the built-in benefits, you’ll feel accomplished when you begin to check long-standing items off your list.
5. Try a new form of exercise.
Exercise has many physical and mental benefits. Since most gyms are closed, this is a good time to try something new at home or outdoors. Better yet, try an exercise that is also an adventure. Kayaking, bicycling, trail running, hiking, and swimming are all great forms of exercise that can double as a memorable day out.
6. Keep a routine.
Lounging around in sweatpants might sound nice, but too much of it is never a good thing. Daily routines minimize decision-making and offer other benefits for mental health. If your days are starting to blend together, set an alarm and create a few daily non-negotiable milestones.(i.e. Shower before logging into work each morning and set out clothes for tomorrow the night before.).
These are unusual times, and everyone is different. If these tips aren’t helping you maintain a healthy outlook, reach out to a professional about options. Here are some free resources for you and your loved ones: