Dealing with Mental Health in Quarantine

When I was 16, after a series of mental breakdowns, I was diagnosed with major depression and anxiety. Back then, everyday was a battle and happiness was rare. But after years of trial and error, I sit here now, a confident and stable 18-year-old. How did I do it? A mixture of the right people and various medications certainly helped. The major key, however, is routines. A month ago, while I was still at college, I had it down to a science. My friends were a 2 minute walk away. I had classes to go to and homework to finish. My skincare routine and overall self-care was at an all time high. For the first time in my life, I could count on a happy tomorrow. But, now I have been forced to return home, away from my friends and my little Winston-Salem oasis. Confined to my house by a “stay at home order” until April 30th with no one but my family, I have no idea what the future will bring. My mental health quickly went out the window and, after talking to my friends and family, I realized that many people were finding it hard to achieve peace in this uncertain time. So, I set out to find things that could help not only me, but everyone. Here are my tips on how to maintain your mental health in quarantine.

 

1. Find your space where you can be alone and make it your own.

Although quarantine can leave some feeling isolated, being able to have time alone is very important. Find your space and make it your own. I completely cleaned out and redid my bedroom, using hundreds of thumb tacks, items I found in my house, and decorations I brought back from college. The result: a cozy nook oasis with all of my favorite things. If I am feeling stressed or annoyed, I simply go to my room, turn on the christmas lights, and take a few moments for myself amongst my many stuffed animals. 

 

2. Find a new hobby or skill (maybe one you can share with another person or the world).

Filling your time with something that you are passionate about can have a positive impact on your mental health. Find a new hobby or a skill that you want to learn. Bonus points if it is a hobby that someone near you shares. For example, I have recently started playing Red Dead Redemption II on my brother’s Xbox. He watches me play for hours and it is something that we now share. Additionally, hobbies can keep you connected with the world around you through social media. In my case, I have started creating one outlandish makeup look a day and posting it on my story. I always get positive feedback and have gotten connected with people through our love of makeup. 

 

3. Stay connected with your friends. 

Although you cannot see them in person, you can use many tools to stay connected to your friends. For example:

a) Facetime, Zoom, etc.

b) Netflix party (a chrome extension where you can have a movie night with your friends by watching the same show at the same time)

c) Become pen pals (I am doing this with my friend who lives up the street)

d) Watch a TV series together

e) Personally, I send friendship bracelets to my friends 

 

4. SHOWER!!

It is easy to forget about showering and find yourself 3 days in, not smelling your best. Trust me, I get it. But maintaining your hygiene is one important key in maintaining mental health. So, please, for yourself and those around you, SHOWER! 

 

5. Get dressed in the morning.

Yes, you could stay in a 24-hour uniform of sweatshirts and sweatpants. BUT, getting dressed and performing your usual morning routine can combat that inevitable “blah” feeling and can be a great way to shake it up. 

 

6. Sit in the sunshine whenever you can.

Having adequate time in the sun is clinically proven to improve one’s mood. So, take a book and go on that rooftop or in your backyard and spend a little time each day soaking up the sunlight. 

 

7. Ration your news.

In our current world, the news can be a source of stress and fear. Although you should stay informed, watching the news 24/7 is not the best idea. Ration how much news you watch and balance it out with a news story, book, or article that reminds you of the good in the world. 

 

8. Acknowledge moments of gratitude, the small things in life, and what you can control.

This one, in particular, has helped me to stay put together. Right now, everything may seem out of your control. But, there will be moments and people in your life that will make you happy. There are things that will never completely change. And, there are things that are in your control (how you decorate your room, your own actions, etc.). Acknowledge everything that you are thankful for and keep all of these things in mind. They will keep you grounded. 

 

Hopefully, these tips will help you as much as they have helped me. Stay safe and healthy!