While the world has made incredible strides in the past year, including the release of several vaccines, the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over quite yet. All of the restrictions put in place to keep people safe may still feel overwhelming.
Just because you need to follow these rules doesn’t mean you can’t keep living purposefully. No matter your situation, whether you’re living in a senior living retirement community, enjoying independent living, or something else entirely, here are some ways you can protect your mental health and stay engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Practicing Self-Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic
1. Take a Break
Now might be an excellent time for you to step back and take a break. Whether that’s a break from the news, talking to certain people, or doing tasks you don’t enjoy, a reprieve might be in order. There’s enough undue stress in our lives already, so it helps to put yourself first from time to time.
This break is also a rare opportunity to introduce some mindfulness to your days. Replace the time you would usually watch the news with some meditation, prayer, or quiet time. Or, start doing yoga or other slow, mindful movements. Begin a gratitude journal. Use your break as a chance to connect more deeply with yourself and take some deep breaths.
2. Create a Routine. Then, Mix it Up.
Routines can be beneficial during this time. When there are unknowns in life, it’s nice to have something constant to fall back on.
For some people, establishing a routine means getting up at the same time each morning, starting the day with a good breakfast and a cup of coffee, and then taking a walk. Others might have an evening routine they look forward to doing. Maybe you have weekly rhythms, where Monday means one thing and Wednesdays mean something else.
Once you have a routine, remember there are also benefits to breaking it up. Add some spice to your week and keep things interesting. Instead of going for a walk after breakfast, do some stretches at home one day. Or simply change up the route you usually take. If you cook at home a lot, try introducing some new recipes into your repertoire.
By changing up your routines, you’ll keep your brain active and engaged, and it will help you keep things fresh.
3. Connect with Loved Ones
Phone calls, FaceTime, social media, and even postcards can make people feel more connected during this time.
Make a list of the people you want to stay connected with, and create a plan to keep in touch. Maybe there are some people you want to talk to every single day. Perhaps others are better suited for a once-a-month call.
No matter what your plan is, remember that you aren’t alone and that your friends and family are excited to get to talk to you, too.
We’ve mentioned it in some of these other tips but believe it or not; exercise is perfect for your mental health. When you get your body moving and your blood flowing, you’re releasing good endorphins in your brain that help you have a more positive outlook. By creating a habit of exercise, you’ll not only be keeping your body healthy, but you’ll be keeping your brain sharp, too.
If you need ideas for some exercises to try, make sure you check out our Wellness Wednesday video series with Deupree House Wellness Director, Chloe Hough!
5. Think Critically
In a nutshell, keep your brain active. Find something you love to do that makes you think. Perhaps that's crossword puzzles or logic books. Maybe you enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles or reading mystery novels.
No matter what you enjoy most, try to do something each day that keeps your brain going. You could even partner with a few friends to create a book club. Read the same book and chat with one another regularly to discuss what you’ve been reading.
The latest trends are encouraging, however the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over yet. As we follow the guidelines created for our safety, let’s prioritize our mental health. For seniors in an independent living retirement community, this means following these tips and doing something each day that makes you smile.