September 15, 2021 6 min read
If there's one thing we learned from a year of staying at home, it's that we have to actively take care of our mental health.
Even before COVID-19 became a public health threat, many of us have been neglecting mental and emotional states in our everyday lives. Then, as quarantines took hold and we had to spend so much time at home, we realized that mental wellness is an integral part of our overall health. We got more anxious, restless, and irritable. Sadly, many also succumbed to increased depression and feelings of isolation.
We know now that we have to be more attuned to our inner wellness, not just our physical fitness. How do you take care of your and your family's mental health? Here are eight valuable suggestions from experts.
The mind and body affect each other, so the most basic thing you can do for your mental health is keeping your physical health. Be deliberate about this at home instead of just 'letting things happen.' Consciously cultivate healthy habits:
Various studies show that increased time with social media, video games, television, and other digital activities can have a negative impact on our psyche. For example, a 2018 research concluded that more than one hour of screen time daily is linked to "lower psychological well-being" for children ages 2 to 17. Another study saw that increased time watching TV and computers is associated with depression in adults.
How much screen time is okay for you and your children? The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends these daily limits for kids:
For adults, healthy guidelines vary but it may be best to keep total screen time under six hours each day to minimize its detrimental effects.
How do you keep your household entertained without looking at screens? Lots of things! You can pick some from our fun list of boredom-busting, sanity-saving activities for the family during quarantine.
According to psychotherapist Kirsten Brunner, there are small activities that are significantly beneficial to your wellness. Some suggestions:
Try these little comforts, or find one of your own. They're free, easy, and could be the breather you need in the daily grind.
If you're surviving this era without the need for alcoholic drinks, props to you! For many of us, drinking at home has become a sort of escape during difficult days -- even and especially when social gatherings are now limited. Of course, we all know the negative effects of alcoholic drinks on our mental and behavioral health, and that it is best for ourselves and our families to keep drinking to a minimum.
If your drinking is still manageable, Dr. Brad Lander of the Ohio State University lists some ways to avoid drinking too much in quarantine:
If anyone in your family might need further help managing their drinking habits, don't hesitate to seek a professional.
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When was the last time you were alone somewhere and cherishing your solitude? One of the precious things we've been missing out on is the ability to sit still, be quiet, and let our minds rest in the calmness.
Before the pandemic, we blamed our restlessness on our busy schedules and hectic routines. But now that we're staying home and things around us have slowed to a stop, we're still not making the time or space for serenity.
Try this: Make "quiet time" an actual part of your daily schedule. Block out a few minutes in your morning routine, while the kids are attending online classes or napping, or after everyone has gone to bed. If you're living with your partner, take turns keeping the household in line while you're having alone time.
Spend this time in a space where you can be alone and away from noise. Having a dedicated room is ideal, but you can also be on your backyard, kitchen table, or window nook.
What do you do during your quiet time? Meditation is a top recommendation. You can also read a relaxing book, pray, or just take your time sipping your coffee.
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The Columbia University Department of Psychiatry writes that positive connections with friends, family, or even a stranger can help keep depression and anxiety at bay. Try to nurture healthy human connections -- those that make you feel supported, useful, or loved.
To keep these connections, you'll also want to give back some support and love to them. Ask about their day, be their 'cheerleader' during challenges, be open about your feelings.
During quarantine or lockdown, maintaining good relationships may take a bit more effort, but it's definitely not impossible. Video calling is an easy way to stay in touch. Some people also prefer voice calls where they can just put down their phone, put it on speaker, and talk 'normally' as they go about their activities.
When it's safe, carefully plan some small in-person visits, keeping in mind minimum health precautions.
Engage your children in some of these safe connections as well. Maybe they miss their favorite aunt and would like to say hello more often, even just on the phone. Maybe you and other families from their play group can do a weekly catch-up.
And don't worry about having lots of people to call. The important thing is the quality, not quantity, of relationships.
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Being in nature works wonders to our mental and emotional wellness. In calm, open spaces, we feel like we can breathe, and our minds are refreshed in a natural way.
Try doing a weekly Nature Day with your family. If the public health threat remains worrying, you don't have to go to the park or the beach just yet. Your own backyard can suffice, or even your patio where you can breathe fresh air.
Keep your activities relaxing, easy, and technology-free. Our favorite suggestions are:
When you feel like you're about to be overwhelmed by stress or anxieties, don't hesitate to call up someone you trust and ask for their help. Some people are reluctant to do this, thinking they'll only be burdening others. But the truth is, lots of people are willing to extend their kindness when they realize that someone needs assistance.
Likewise, you can also be one of those kind people. In fact, giving help to others can be good for you, too. The Cleveland Clinic cites a range of health benefits that charitable acts can give you, including lower stress levels, increased self-esteem, and greater happiness.
Also encourage a helpful environment in your household. Remind your children that when they're facing a tough challenge, they can ask you for help. And when they have extra blessings, then it's their turn to help others as well. It may be by donating, volunteering (safely), or simply listening to a friend who needs a shoulder to lean on.
We hope these expert tips help you and your family thrive during quarantines! If you have other mental wellness suggestions, do share in the comments.
We at GearDen.com wish you a happy, healthy, loving home!
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