6 Things to Do to Keep Your Mental Health Strong During Quarantine

Content warning: This article discusses sensitive material, including mental health, eating disorders, and relapse.

With seemingly no end in sight for our current "stay-at-home" orders and social distancing guidelines, it can be a difficult time for people who have previously or who are currently struggling with their mental health. As somebody who has struggled with depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder, here are the things that I've found to be the most helpful when it comes to keeping my mental health from spiraling.

  1. 1. Make a Schedule for Yourself

    Scrabble tiles spell out "To Do" on a blue background above a yellow sticky note

    Probably the most difficult part about quarantine has been resisting the urge to stay in bed all day and play the Sims. To combat this, I've started making daily schedules right before I go to sleep. During the week, it's good to set an alarm in the morning and go about your day like it's just another day at school. Vary your activities from day to day so things don't get repetitive, and try to stick to the schedule that you made for yourself. Make sure to set aside a decent amount of time for things like homework and eating!

  2. 2. Try a New Hobby

    If you've ever wanted to master a new skill but couldn't find the time to fit it in before, there's no better opportunity than now. Order some watercolors from Amazon and follow Bob Ross tutorials. Buy a recipe book and finally learn how to cook something that isn't Easy Mac. Download Duolingo and become fluent in a new language. There's nothing like being forced to stay in your house to motivate you to try new things.

  3. 3. Start Meal Planning

    three glass dishes sit side by side on the counter full of colorfully arranged veggies

    As somebody who is in recovery from Anorexia, my biggest concern going into self-quarantine was whether or not my eating disorder would make a reappearance. To try and combat this, I've started meal planning as much as I can. At the beginning of the week, I write out the meals I plan on making (and learning how to cook) and incorporate them into my daily schedules. This also reduces the amount of snacking that I've been doing out of boredom and helps me to stick to my daily schedules (and it's a great excuse to learn how to cook).

  4. 4. Exercise

    Girl doing push up

    As tempting as it may be to sit on the couch and watch Parks and Recreation all day, one of the best things you can do for your mental health right now is exercise. This doesn't have to mean buying a treadmill (although you do you boo). It can be as simple as going for a walk around your neighborhood or doing squats every time there's a commercial break. You can also start your day by following Yoga or Zumba videos on YouTube. Hell, even playing Wii Sports or Just Dance is a good way to boost those endorphins. One of my favorite exercises right now is rollerblading, something that I hadn't done since elementary school — way before Coronavirus. There are tons of different ways to keep yourself moving, and varying the exercises that you do every day can help carry your daily schedule and keep it from getting too repetitive.

  5. 5. Invest Time in Yourself

    Skincare morning routine

    It may seem somewhat useless to put time into getting ready in the morning when there's literally nobody around to see you, but it's important to do things that make you feel like an actual human being. Devote a day to self-care activities like face masks and doing your nails. Put on some make-up and throw together a nice outfit. It doesn't matter that nobody will see you; it's for you, and nobody else. I may be a hypocrite because I haven't shaved in a week, but it's DEFINITELY on the daily schedule soon (I think).

  6. 6. Set up Time to Talk to Friends

    As I'm writing this, I'm getting ready to hop on Zoom and join my sister's impromptu Book Club. As Tinder likes to point out, social distancing does not mean social disconnecting. Mental Illness thrives in isolation, so one of the most important things you can do for yourself is to make sure to continue putting time into your relationships. Whether it be through FaceTime sessions or Zoom calls, talking to your friends is the perfect way to make quarantine feel less suffocating. 

There are tons of other things that you can do to keep your mental health strong during this time, but these are just the ones that have worked for me. Stay safe out there, and stay home people!