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.
Impact of Isolation During the Pandemic
Depression, Anxiety, and the Impact on Life
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.
Positive Habits to Help Ward off Unhealthy Social Isolation
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.