Feeling a Little too Isolated? Here’s What May Help
The current COVID-19, aka Coronavirus, pandemic has resulted in all of us being home and inside more than we probably ever thought possible. In March 2020, many states including New Jersey issued stay-at-home orders that primarily limited all individuals to only leaving their house if their job was essential, to seek necessary healthcare services, or to complete essential tasks, such as purchasing groceries. Social distancing (remaining at least 6 feet away from other people) has also been encouraged as a way to hopefully “flatten the curve” and limit the spread of COVID-19. While social distancing and staying home is absolutely necessary to keep yourself and others healthy, it can lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness, boredom, and frustration. This is especially true for those of you still living in a dorm on a college campus that looks and feels very different than it did a couple of months ago. Below you will find some helpful tips for maintaining your best overall mental and physical health.
If You Need Help with Staying Calm
It is 100% normal to be experiencing feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, and even sadness during these difficult times. However, your physical health and immune system can potentially suffer if you are struggling mentally or emotionally. The following tips are helpful ways to stay calm and promote relaxation:
- Deep breathing and meditation have been shown to result in decreased anxiety and increased feelings of relaxation. Many free apps are available for downloading to assist with deep breathing and meditation, such as the Calm app. To get you started, view a deep breathing video provided by Calm (download the app at www.calm.com).
- Coloring is not just for kids! Try downloading a free coloring app on your phone or tablet like the one found for Apple users or for Android users. You can also purchase adult coloring books online pretty much anywhere, like Amazon.
- Be selective with your social media choices: Social media is a great way to stay connected with people who you can’t physically be with right now, but it can also be a huge source of anxiety or COVID-19 overload. Try removing yourself from the pages that don’t bring you happiness and make you feel even more isolated. Some social media apps, like Instagram, allow you to temporarily mute pages if desired. Learn more.
- Headspace app: This app is a great mental health resource to have on hand whenever you need it. The app is great with helping you manage stress, anxiety, and insomnia and also offers meditation techniques. Furthermore, most, if not all, of the app resources are free for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn more and download the app, visit the following link and click “try for free”: www.Headspace.com
- In addition to the services provided by Montclair State CAPS, if you are ever interested in having a confidential conversation with a trained counselor, text HOME to 741741 or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) at any time. Get more information on CAPS.
If You Need Help with Staying Active
It is important to remember that the stay-at-home orders do not limit you from enjoying the nice weather that is quickly (and thankfully) approaching. You can still go outside, take a walk, go for a run, or ride your bicycle. In fact, these things are encouraged! Just make sure to still abide by social distancing restrictions when doing so. However, if you prefer to exercise indoors, here are some websites and apps that can help you achieve your goals:
- The FitOn app: according to LoveisLouder.org (2020), the FitOn app”“helps you stay active, reduce stress, and feel good with 100s of workouts that are always free with celebrity trainers & advice articles on taking care of yourself both mentally and physically.” To download the app: Apple users and Android users.
- Prefer to watch workout videos in the privacy of your own room? View a Youtube dance workout channel. For those of you interested in pilates, view this great channel. (Both channels originally recommended by Loveislouder.org).
*REMEMBER: This is not a time to be hard on yourself if your diet or exercise routine is different than normal or “less than ideal.” Staying safe and healthy is the most important thing right now. Be kind to yourself and just do the best you can. 🙂
If You Need Help with Staying Connected
Current restrictions have caused so many of us to miss an endless amount of social gatherings and celebrations. It probably seems like forever ago that you were in a room with a group of family or friends or even hugged someone.
Fortunately, we live in a time where technology lets us stay connected more than ever before. Perhaps it is more helpful to think of the term we all keep hearing, “social distancing,” as “physical distancing” instead. Physically yes, we must stay six feet away from others. But in terms of being “social,” there are no limitations, but rather a need to temporarily modify how we connect with one another. Although the tips mentioned below don’t entirely replace the socialization we’re all used to, they can help with physical distancing. Remind yourself frequently that this “new normal” will not be in place forever, and we are all staying in now so that we can be together again later!
Have a video conversation with your friends, family, or even your pet (with assistance of course)! Whether one-on-one or group video chats are desired, you can have virtual hangouts on FaceTime, Google Chats, or Zoom.
- Have a virtual game night: View ideas!
- Host a virtual dinner party: Learn how!
- You can even host a virtual movie night with friends or family through services like Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, Disney+ and Amazon. Learn more about this great idea!
- Don’t forget that a simple, regular voice phone call is also an option; this is a great option to keep in touch with people in your life who may not be very tech-savvy.
If You Need Help with Staying Safe
Although you may have heard most, if not all, of the following tips recently, they are extremely important and worth mentioning again. Please abide by them all. They not only may save your life but also the lives of those around you.
- Practice social distancing i.e stay AT LEAST SIX FEET away from others. Yes, this still applies to family, friends, someone you are dating. Even if you care deeply for someone, you still have the ability to get them sick or be exposed to COVID-19 by them.
- Wear a mask when out in public, whether store bought or homemade. If finding a mask to purchase is difficult or expensive, view this video is a quick and simple way to DIY a mask. And remember, do not share used masks with anyone!
- WASH YOUR HANDS!! Hand sanitizer is great to carry with you when out, but washing your hands is cheaper and more effective. Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds. Consider this a good time to practice your karaoke skills – 20 seconds equals: “Happy Birthday” song twice, singing your ABCs once, or the chorus to your favorite Beyoncé song once.
- Seek medical care if you are not feeling well and encourage others to do so also if sick.
- Exercise for at least 20 minutes per day, follow a fairly regular sleep schedule, and eat a well-balanced diet. All of these things promote a healthy immune system, which is more important now than ever before.
- Cough into your elbow, not your hands. Let’s keep germ spreading to a minimum.
- Wipe down all surfaces in your room, house, bathroom, etc daily with any disinfectant.
- If your job or daily duties are not essential, STAY HOME.
If You Need a Friendly Reminder
Always remember, especially during these difficult times, to be kind to yourself and others. Everyone is doing the best that they can to stay healthy, happy, and safe right now. If you don’t exercise for a few days, there is always tomorrow. If you are stressed and snap at someone you care about, apologize and move on. If you are experiencing sadness, loneliness, or any other emotion, reach out to a loved one or a mental health professional. Help others and help yourself by following the tips provided above. And always remember that, although it may feel like it sometimes, you are not alone.
For more information and assistance, visit the following websites: