The ongoing directives for social distancing and isolation are causing major disruption in all of our lives. This is a stressful time that is testing the resiliency and coping skills of everyone. We may have had to curtail activities that many of us find enjoyable, like eating out with friends, working out at the gym, going to movies and sporting events, or important sources of spiritual strength.
There can be an emotional toll that continued isolation and chronic stress can take, especially for those who are already coping with emotional or psychological problems like depression or anxiety, eating disorders or substance abuse.
It’s important to remember that social distancing doesn’t mean we are alone. There are many ways to stay connected with loved ones and enjoy exercise and time outside. Many people find it comforting to connect with friends, family and loved ones using social media platforms and video calling. Scheduling times to talk can give us something to look forward to.
As temperatures rise in the summer, it may be necessary to find time early in the morning to go outside for safety and comfort. Even if you’re not a morning person, this outdoor time can really help. Studies have shown that our brains respond to sunlight by releasing a hormone called serotonin, which boosts our mood, helping us feel calm and happy. Additionally, exercise – even a short walk outdoors- reduces stress, alleviates anxiety, and releases “feel-good” chemicals in the brain called endorphins.
So set that alarm clock, and make your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health a priority. Take this time as an opportunity to spend more time with your children and family or to take up yoga or running. While it’s important to stay informed, avoid spending too much time reading news you may find depressing and read about topics that bring you joy. COVID-19 will not last forever. The time you spend now keeping yourself healthy will pay benefits now, and when we’re beyond this pandemic.