Mental Health

Finding it hard to stay home? 5 tips for positive mental health while social distancing

by Samantha Quek // March 27, 2020, 12:43 pm

HOW TO SOCIAL DISTANCE

I’m not sure about you, but social distancing spells the complete opposite of what I’m used to.

Being an extrovert, my schedule is usually packed with meeting people. But as the COVID-19 situation continues to develop, it’s clear that I’ll be spending unusually more time at home.

How should I use the time wisely so I don’t feel lonely? How should I channel positive thoughts so I don’t feel sad?

These are real and valid questions that you might be having.

But even as we practise social distancing responsibly, it’s key that we do so without compromising our mental health. While we maintain a safe physical distance from others, it’s important that we don’t lose our community (and sanity).

Here are some tips on how we can do social distancing healthily.

1. GET YOURSELF A ROUTINE

Some students have had their lectures moved online. If you’re a working adult, you may also be working remotely as part of your company’s business continuity plans.

While we’re at home, it’s easy to blur the boundaries between work and personal time. Draw strict boundaries to guard your rest time. We can actually make use of the increased time at home to forge stronger bonds with our family!

For example, if your usual working hours are 9am to 6pm, stick to that. Wake up early to start work on time. Carve out your designated lunch hour, then get back to work and wrap up by 6pm.

Do you work to rest, or rest to work?

Aim to fill up your schedule purposefully. Don’t binge-watch that K-drama till 4am in the morning!

If you find yourself easily distracted at home, tracking your screen time would also be helpful.

For Apple users, you can use Screen Time that’s available in your device settings – it tracks your daily average use and notifies you when your screen time has reduced or increased. For Android users, try Power Usage. This data is compiled into a graph, which lets you easily keep tabs on your usage over the past week.

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the influx of news, set limits on how often you’d want to check your phones for these updates! And watch where your info is coming from. It’s best to stick to official government and news websites.

2. STAY CONNECTED

Despite the heightened physical distancing, let’s ensure that we don’t distance ourselves relationally.

We can make use of digital tools such as Zoom and Google Hangouts to check in on our friends and family. Do video calls – it’s the closest we can get to a physical meet-up in this season. 

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Don’t just do small talks online; dive into real and honest questions. Or try out something fun together, like a virtual dinner party, or an online book club. 

Even if the cinemas are closed, you can still catch a movie with your friends! 

Netflix Party allows you to watch shows together with someone else and engage in a real-time chat. Just a note: Choose your shows wisely! 

3. CURATE YOUR SOC-MED FEED 

If you’re following social media accounts that churn out content that feeds fear and anxiety, you might want to unfollow them. 

Instead, fill your social media feeds with positivity rather than negativity. There are also some ground-up initiatives on Instagram that have sprung up this season. #CoVidCoMic, #IChooseHopeOverFear and #SGSalutesYou, just to name a few, are some you can check out! 

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Facebook has also begun rolling out its own coronavirus information centre at the top of feeds worldwide, with info tailored to your location.

If you’re a Snapchat user, check out its new Here For You search tool to “help users who may be feeling anxious or stressed over the coronavirus pandemic”.

The tool surfaces “safety resources” from mental health experts when users search for topics like anxiety, depression, suicide, or bullying.”

Emmaus Strategies is also offering free online webinars to educate the public on how to build up build up our mental resilience.

4. KEEP BEING ACTIVE

We all know how exercise can improve our well-being by reducing our stress levels and boosting our immune system.

But with the new 10-people rule and the closure of some venues, you might not be the most comfortable visiting your usual fitness facilities.

One of the ways you can still keep fit is by challenging yourself to ActiveSG’s #startwith60 challenge. Once you’ve joined the challenge, you’ll have a choice to either to receive a list of workouts for 7 days or a mystery workout every day.

Also, there are other free workout options online that you can carry out in the comfort of your own room. These tutorials can be found easily on YouTube.

Or if you live near a park connector, just go out and get some fresh air (with ample safety distance)!

5. CHERISH YOUR “ALONE” TIME

Cooped up at home? It’s great time to pursue a hobby or pick up a new skill! 

If you’ve always wanted to try your hands at cooking or baking, get going. Have a pile of books that you’ve never had the time to read? Start on them. Take some time to sit down to tidy up your life and set some personal goals as well.

Having our usual routines disrupted may not be necessarily a bad thing. Don’t be quick to fall into auto-pilot mode. Start your day with God.

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Hold off on the scrolling through of your social media feeds the first thing when you wake up. Wash up, read a Bible passage and pray.

Develop a habit of prayer and worship. Dig deep into His word. Spend extended Quiet Time with Him on bended knees. Grow your intimacy with Christ!

Make it a point to thank God for His grace that’s been lavished upon us – for a new day every morning, a house to #stayhome in, food on our tables, toilet paper in our toilets…

Commit your day to God, and let Him guide and guard your thoughts. As we spend time in solitude and seeking God, may we all experience a peace that the world cannot give (John 14:27).

THINK + TALK

  1. Have you been emotionally and mentally affected by the new social distancing measures?
  2. What are some things you can do to thrive at home?
  3. List down your concerns and worries, and submit the list to God in prayer.
About the author

Samantha Quek

Samantha prefers scenic over city travels. The beauty of God's creation reminds her of His sovereignty.