The Mounting Pressure in Quarantine

As quarantine marches on, I’ve noticed a growing apathy, increased challenges with daily tasks, poor food choices and general “blah”.  Each day I walk over to my wall calendar that used to coordinate several sports, games, practices, school activities, holidays and vacations and announce, “Check off another one, Wilson.” And, I’m envious of the tropical island Tom Hanks landed on…

Here I am, not totally alone, but with my healthy family, not on a beautiful deserted tropical island, but still trying to manage the best we can.  There’s relatively not too much to complain about when I look around inside our house, but the issues for so many are not always evident.  I’ve seen many social media articles consoling and supporting parents who are being asked to take on home schooling for multiple children with varying curriculums while still working themselves and trying to run mini hotels as everyone is continually using dishes and somehow creating a crazy amount of clothing needing to be laundered. The articles tell you not worry about doing everything because you can’t, and you shouldn’t feel like you should.  Oh, well that was easy.  But, the truth of the situation is, while thousands of people are dying and many in our communities heading off each day to help keep them alive, our mental health may be overlooked entirely.  And as per usual with mental health, the symptoms slowly sneak up as we deny them.  Make no mistake about mental health symptoms.  You don’t need a diagnosis or previous treatment plans to be having a hard time with mental health in this current environment, or ever.  Mental hygiene is a real thing, and it helps you lead a happier and healthier life.

“I slept in, ate pancakes, then ice cream and watched movies with my kids today,” is a fantastic day that we all dreamt about when the world was in full swing.  However, we’ve been given the opportunity to repeat this cycle without getting fired or being late for a soccer practice.  How do we know when we are simply enjoying our family and not sliding into a depressive state, especially when we are so accustomed to a fast pace or high stress and anxiety provoking environment.  How do we know if this is a well-deserved break and we are seizing the day to spend time with the family, or an unhealthy choice?  As someone who is typically moving and occupied, I feel a sense of squander when I sit, especially when I know there are tasks in front of me.  I have had to work on evaluating the am I decompressing v excessive lounging for many years.   Most of the time now, I get it, but not always.  So, if you don’t get it, don’t beat yourself up.  Even Tom Brady lost a Super Bowl.  (OK, so a super bowl is not really quarantine, but you get the point).

Here are some tips to help evaluate your habits.

How much of my day was spent “lounging”. Was it just this day or yesterday, too?

Taking advantage of the time we have been given to relax and decompress is wonderful.  Ask yourself if you’ve been able to participate in other activities this day or this week.  If your lounging time is more than half of your daily routine, you may want to create some additional activities to do.

Did I get outside today?

Fresh air, nature and a change in your environment can improve mood.  If you can’t get outside, open a window, sit and listen.

Did I eat anything that will support my immune system or overall health today?

Eating refined sugars and simple carbohydrates are easy grab and go foods, and when we aren’t feeling enthusiastic, cooking may get prioritized.  Keep citrus fruits available (chock full of immune boosting vitamin C) and grab those instead of cookies, chips or crackers.  Carbs may only increase those sluggish feelings, so fight the good fight on nutritional choices.

Have I gotten up and moved around recently?

An online workout, a walk or a task around the house may last an hour.  These are great activities, but we have another 23 hours left to manage.  Avoid letting yourself lay around because you moved earlier in the day.  A great trick is to stay hydrated so you’ll need to get up and move to the bathroom frequently!

Check in on yourself like you would check in on a family member or loved one.  How are you feeling?  Are you eating well? And, the pinnacle…What can I do for you to help?  Hang in there everyone.  Just because you aren’t in complete crisis mode doesn’t mean you don’t need attention.  Breathe and be well.

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