As of yesterday, Premier Doug Ford has designated Ontario as being in a state of Emergency due to the spread of the CoVid-19 pandemic. Ontarians are encouraged to remain isolated from their typical routines, and for many, remaining at home. The current state is estimated to last up to 14 days or longer.
Imposed isolation and social distancing can have a profound impact on our mental and emotional health. We are meant to be social beings in social connections. Social engagement places a significant role in mental and emotional wellness.
“Social isolation has debilitating effects on mental health in mammals — for example, it is often associated with depression…” (Moriel Zelikowsky, May Hui, Tomomi Karigo, Andrea Choe, Bin Yang, Mario R. Blanco, Keith Beadle, Viviana Gradinaru, Benjamin E. Deverman, David J. Anderson, 2018)
Isolation, disengagement and social distancing can lead to:
poor or disruptive sleep
lack of activation
loss of routine and daily structure
increased substance use
susceptible to illnesses (Katharine Gammon, 2012)
During these difficult times, how can we support our brain, emotions and physical state?
Managing Your Wellness During Social Distancing
Stop obsessively watching social media and TV related to COVID-19. Limit your screen time following this pandemic – live moment by moment and do infrequent check-in for updates!
The loss of your daily routine can lead to feelings of being out of control, sad, bored and overwhelmed. Develop a planned routine and structure built on meaning activities that can provide you with a sense of “Achievement” and “Pleasure”. Be specific in developing a detailed plan for each day and your next day, which will give you something to look forward to throughout your day.
List out all the activities, home projects, and hobbies you enjoy doing. Try to make your list as robust as possible. Rank and order these into categories of most to least enjoyable. Pick from this list and add them into your same day and next day plan. Some examples might be play cards, board games, bake, cooking, reading, painting room, organizing space, clean up cluttered areas, face time, go for a hike, or call a friend to name a few.
Physical activity supports mental and emotional wellness. Youtube, apps, or the general internet are loaded with many physical workouts and activation activities you can do. Again, make your list and plan for one or two physical activation activities. Ensure you pick activities that are Achievable and Enjoyable.
Wake up at a consistent time and get to bed at a healthy consistent time. Use mediation sources, including apps or youtube for sleep mindfulness exercises, bilateral relaxation and other meditation practices to support healthy sleep. Sleep is critical to mental and emotional wellness.
Positivity journaling can also be a meaningful way to keep your thoughts from slipping into negative states. (Here is a link to guide you in positivity journaling – http://positivewriter.com/why-and-how-you-should-start-a-daily-positive-journal/)
Stay connected to your ‘peeps’ via telephone, text, or FaceTime. Ensure that each day you reach out and engage others to ensure that you’re connecting to others rather than letting isolation and social disengagement take over your mind and emotions in negative ways.
Be intentional in taking care of your mind, emotions and body during these challenging times and maybe, you might be able to build some positive meaningful memories using your mental emotional wellness toolbox despite this difficult situation of COVID-19.
Be well and be safe Ian