Humans are adaptable animals, yet this year has been tough. A year into the pandemic, we're seeing the consequences of lockdowns, stress, and major life changes.
Unfortunately, the current methods are not working for everybody, as rates of anxiety and depression are skyrocketing above predicted levels, especially with young adults.
Even more startlingly, one in eight patients that have recovered from COVID-19 receives a neurological diagnosis within six months. We're going to grapple with the long-term consequences of this virus for some time.
For those of us sheltering at home and following social distancing guidelines, one of the main challenges is maintaining sanity during isolation.
Take work breaks to virtually connect with a friend or meet for a socially distanced coffee break
Humans are social beings by nature. We need connection; it's in our DNA. This has been shown by the increasing number of people suffering from "touch starvation" during the lockdown.
Experiencing positive emotions while connecting with others can help relieve stress and make you feel "human" again, especially if you spend most or all of the day in isolation.
Zoom Fatigue is a real phenomenon, but taking a few minutes to unwind with a friend might not be that tiring after all.
Being in nature can make you feel happier and more grounded.
A 2015 Stanford study showed that spending time in nature reduces anxiety and rumination about existential distress.
Take yourself to a nearby park or beach and allow yourself to appreciate the world around you. Breathe in the fresh air and observe the trees or birds. Try out an "awe walk" or give "forest bathing" a shot—both have been shown to improve mental health.
We're often so absorbed in our habits that we forget to appreciate small details in life. A hike (or even walk around your neighborhood) in which you stop to observe the subtleties of your surroundings can do wonders.
Move your body
We spend too much time in front of a computer or at our desks. The Mayo Clinic reports that sitting too long can put you at risk of dying—similar to someone who smokes.
Find ways to get out of your chair for 30-minute breaks during the day. Do stretching exercises. Take a lap around the block or go up and down some stairs. Dance to your favorite song.
Count your blessings every day
Make a practice of listing all the good things in your life: family, friends, the roof over your head—it all counts.
Gratitude has been shown to improve physical and psychological health, promote empathy and self-esteem, and help you sleep better.
When you stop obsessing over negative thoughts and events and focus on what's going right, you're more likely to stay motivated.
Remember these tips when you're feeling uninspired or isolated. Finally, keep in mind that while your struggle is unique, you are not alone.