Feeling bored, uncertain, and overwhelmed due to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19)? You aren’t alone. Physical measures such as social distancing and staying at home are critical to prevent the spread of the virus, but research-based suggestions improve your health and productivity while at home are limited. Here are 7 activities to improve your mental health during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
1. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is a state of being attentive and aware of the present moment, in an accepting and non-judgmental way. Research suggests that mindfulness-based stress reduction programs may have a moderate effect on improving anxiety and mood symptoms (Hofmann, Sawyer, Witt & Oh, 2010). You can participate in mindfulness-based programs online, or search for alternative mindfulness applications to try out.
2. Try journaling
Although artists and scientists keep journals to document observations and interesting ideas, you don’t have to be either to engage in journaling. Journalling is a practice that helps you prioritize your tasks, process your thoughts, or reflect on your experiences. It’s easy to do! Just grab a pen and paper and begin writing or drawing your thoughts. If you’d like some prompts, let us know in the comments.
3. Learn an instrument
Music has been used therapeutically to promote peoples’ health. In times when you’re stuck at home, you may appreciate learning instruments like the ukulele and keyboard. There are so many resources on YouTube that provide free, step-by-step tutorials if you’d like to learn, and online services like Amazon that sell these instruments.
4. Talk it out
Research shows that having social support can buffer the impact of specific types of stressors among older adults (Krause, 1986). The implication is that you can reach out to your family and friends through online messaging platforms. You can also reach out to our team here.
5. Develop a healthy routine
Consistent routines have psychological benefits, especially during times of stress where things can seem out of control. In addition, routines that allow us to have consistent sleep-wake patterns may provide relief for clinical populations diagnosed with bipolar disorder (Novotney, 2008).
6. Join a guided art activity
A study in college students found that there were therapeutic effects of engaging in an individual or group art project in comparison to a non-art control project (Aaron, Rinehart & Ceballos, 2011). A fun activity could be to follow guided art activities, such as following Bob Ross tutorials or finding inspiration on Pinterest.
7. Engage in at-home physical exercise activities
Physical exercise is associated with significant benefits for people with moderate depression and to lower anxiety. You may find it fun to gather your friends and exercise together at home, virtually, for at least 20 minutes a day.
There you have it – 7 activities to improve your mental health during COVID-19. Please feel free to contribute your ideas on activities you find helpful to improve your health and wellness during the pandemic.
Aaron, R. E., Rinehart, K. L., & Ceballos, N. A. (2011). Arts-based interventions to reduce anxiety levels among college students. Arts & Health, 3(01), 27-38.
Goodman, J. T. (2018). Reflective journaling to decrease anxiety among undergraduate nursing students in the clinical setting.
Hofmann, S. G., Sawyer, A. T., Witt, A. A., & Oh, D. (2010). The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression: A meta-analytic review. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 78(2), 169.
Krause, N. (1986). Social support, stress, and well-being among older adults. Journal of gerontology, 41(4), 512-519.
Lin, S. T., Yang, P., Lai, C. Y., Su, Y. Y., Yeh, Y. C., Huang, M. F., & Chen, C. C. (2011). Mental health implications of music: Insight from neuroscientific and clinical studies. Harvard review of psychiatry, 19(1), 34-46.
Martinsen, E. W. (2008). Physical activity in the prevention and treatment of anxiety and depression. Nordic journal of psychiatry, 62(sup47), 25-29.
Novotney, A. (2008, February). Consistent routines may ease bipolar disorder. Retrieved March 22, 2020, from https://www.apa.org/monitor/feb08/consistent