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What are Some Positive Quarantine Habits to Adopt?

On a normal day, most of us would probably admit we have some habit we wish we would break. It could be anything from a simple nail-biting habit that can form from anxiety to something more serious like an addiction. Unfortunately, the past 365 or more days have been anything but normal with the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to more bad habits and an increase in depression, addiction, and anxiety. Adopting some positive quarantine habits can help.

Keep reading for some ideas on good habits to build to keep up your mental health during these trying times. If you’re struggling with addiction, depression or anxiety, give us a call or send us a message to make the first steps to taking your life back.

Impact of Isolation During the Pandemic

In June 2020, only three months after lockdowns swept the nation, Blue Cross Blue Shield published a study on the impact of quarantines and social distancing. They reported a 23 percent increase in alcohol consumption at home and non-medical drug use rose by 13 percent as well. Typically, these recreational activities are born out of anxiety and depression, exasperated by feelings of isolation during the pandemic.
Humans are, by nature, social creatures. In the beginning, socialization was born by necessity; we had a higher chance of surviving in larger groups. As time went on, belonging to a group became even more important for our mental health. In 2015, a professor of psychology and neuroscience reported that social isolation is twice as harmful as obesity to our physical and mental health. Unhealthy social isolation can lead to loneliness, which can cause a decrease in our immune response and mental health concerns like depression and anxiety.

Depression, Anxiety, and the Impact on Life

Depression is characterized as feelings of immense sadness that will not relent, feelings of low self-worth, and disinterest in daily activities, passions, and life. When you are in a state of depression, you can create unhealthy social isolation by frequently canceling plans (and feeling relieved about it) or refusing to go out in the first place. You could also notice symptoms like lack of engagement in work or frequently missing work. This lack of motivation can lead to low performance at work, which often has other unintended side effects.

Anxiety, on the other hand, can be harder to recognize. Thanks to movies and TV shows, people often think of rapid breathing and paper bags when they hear the word ‘anxiety.’ When you have anxiety, you typically find yourself constantly worrying about the what-if’s of life to the point where you’re unable to focus and see physical changes to your body. Anxiety can physically present itself as headaches, nausea, fatigue, shortness of breath, and muscle tension or pain. The inability to concentrate, which can be triggered by anxiety, can also affect workplace performance and relationships with our friends and family.

Working with a trained therapist, joining a support group, and building better lifestyle habits can help reduce the risk of symptoms relapsing.

Positive Habits to Help Ward off Unhealthy Social Isolation

  1. Create a Schedule/Routine: Having a set schedule, and maintaining a routine, can help ease stress. By assigning specific tasks or projects to set times of the day, you can clear them from your mind until it’s time to handle them, allowing you to focus on the task or relationship at hand rather than worry about everything else that needs to get done.
  2. Use Technology to Connect (And Not Solely Social Media): Whether you’re feeling socially isolated as an at-risk household who can’t risk interacting with others, you’re on quarantine due to exposure or a positive COVID-19 test, or you’re too far away from those closest to you, use technology to your advantage. Set up video meetings or phone calls with the people in your life you can be emotionally vulnerable with will help you maintain your connection with them. It is these deeper relationships and connections that help prevent feelings of isolation and loneliness. Several of our programs, including our Intensive Outpatient Program are offering Zoom-based meetings to provide support during this time of uncertainty.
  3. Get Some Fresh Air and Vitamin D: Sometimes, a change in scenery can help when we are feeling stuck or trapped in one place. Spend 15, 30, 60 minutes a day in the great outdoors. If you can go for a walk without risk of spreading COVID-19, explore your neighborhood; or choose to sit outside to work or eat lunch. The sunlight also helps provide your body with Vitamin D, which helps regulate your mood and prevent depression.
  4. Prepare Good Food: While junk food may feel good in the moment, a balanced diet can help your body regulate your mood. Increase your intake of fatty acids, amino Acids like meat and dairy (they help with your neurotransmitters), and complex carbs like whole grains, broccoli and oranges.
  5. Invest in Endorphins: It turns out exercise is not only important for your physical health. Exercising regularly increases the body’s natural anti-depressants, otherwise known as endorphins. As Elle Woods reminded us in the early ’00s, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy…” While many experts recommend 30-minutes of exercise as often as three to five days a week, starting with just 10-minutes a day of moderate walking will help. Just make sure you continue to gradually increase your timing until you reach the 90 to 150 minutes of recommended exercise each week.
Feelings of isolation have increased during the pandemic. The average share of adults reporting anxiety or depression symptoms has increased almost four-fold. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety and these habits aren’t helping, or you’re struggling to start, speaking with a professional can help.
Experiencing mental fatigue, depression, or anxiety due to quarantine, social distancing, or the COVID-19 pandemic? Send us a message or give us a call to set up an appointment. Taking the first step can be the most important step to feeling like yourself again.

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