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How to stay mentally healthy during self-isolation by Gypsy Rose 

Government leaders, the media and some health organisations have not mentioned the mental impact of self-isolation can do to some, if not many people. If you are an introvert homebody, like me, self-isolation is nothing new to you, however, for others, self-isolating can cause anxiety, distress, and depression.

The list below includes ways to help combat the nasty blues of staying at home/self-isolating.

1. Meditate

Meditation improves a wide range of willpower skills, including lengthening attention span, focus, stress management, and enhances self-awareness.

It helps control anxiety, promotes emotional health, can generate kindness, may reduce age-related memory loss, improves sleep, helps fight addictions, helps to control pain, and helps decrease high blood pressure.

2. Keep social

Keep social from a distance, of course! There are many ways to keep social during self-isolation; this includes video calls/Skype,Zoom, telephone calls, emailing, or old-fashion snail mail.

Writing letters to loved ones or friends is a great way- see it as a 'Penpal' experience. This is great for the kids too.

3. Puzzles, Jigsaws & Board Games

Puzzles, jigsaws and board games help to improve memory, reinforce existing connections between our brain cells and improves mental speed and thought processes.

Jigsaws and puzzles also exercise the left and right sides of your brain at once and improve visual-spatial reasoning. They are an excellent meditation tool and stress reliever, as well as being a great way to connect with family, killing time when alone.

Benefits include living longer (when you puzzle regularly). Studies have shown that people who do jigsaw and puzzles have longer life spans with fewer chances of developing Alzheimer's disease, memory loss or dementia.

If you do not have physical board games, puzzles or jigsaws, do not stress, the App Store on Smartphones have plenty of puzzles, jigsaw and board games which do the same job.

4. Get Organised

Organising is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety. It also reduces the feeling of being overwhelmed, achieves more in less time, gains a sense of control, sets a good example for your kids, clears your head from all the clutter and helps increase energy and calm. 

5. De-cluttering

De-cluttering has proven to help with mental health. Benefits include cleaning your mind, reduces stress and anxiety, improves sleep, saves money, boots productivity and creativity, as well as creating a harmonious environment.

It also helps rid of allergens in the home. Things become easier to clean and keep tidy, you also discover lost treasures, and enables you to find your belongings.

6. Exercise

Being active has been shown to have many health benefits, both physically and mentally, and helps you live longer. Benefits of regular exercise include feeling happier, weight loss, good for your muscles and bones, increases your energy levels, reduces the risk of chronic diseases, and helps skin health.

Other benefits include helping with brain health and memory, helps to relax and enhances sleep quality, helps to reduce pain, and promotes better sex life.

7. Getting Fresh Air

Being in nature or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, stress, and increases pleasant feelings. Other benefits also include physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and production of stress hormones.

Getting fresh air doesn't mean you have to travel far, your backyard or front yard offers plenty of fresh air! 

8. Cooking & Eating Well

Cooking and eating well can be tricky sometimes, however, writing a meal plan before you go to grocery shopping helps to minimise impulse "junk food" purchases and unhealthy foods.

The benefits of cooking and eating well include better mood, reduced cancer risk, weight loss, diabetes management, heart health and stroke prevention, healthy bones and teeth, improved memory, and the health of the next generation.

9. Limit TV/ News Viewing

Studies have shown that watching emotional content of films and television programs, including negative news channels, can affect your mood, and your mood can then affect many aspects of your thinking and behaviour.

Limiting watching or reading the news on 'what is going on today' to once or twice a day will help to prevent anxiety, sadness, anger, or disgust, as well as what types of memories you recall, and how much you will worry about the particular topic.

Benefits of limiting watching and reading the news on negative content include better mental health, gives you more time to spend with your pets and family, allows you to learn new things, helps your health and fitness, and helps you to sleep better.

10. Spend Time with Pets

Animals provide affection and comfort, as well as help us to stay more active and enjoy the great outdoors. On average, spend a minimum of 1-2 hours each day providing dedicated attention to your dog.

Spending time with your pets has proven to reduce stress and anxiety; animals reduce the risk of illnesses including blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, decreased feelings of loneliness, and increased opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities.

11. Beauty Wellbeing

Research suggests that activities involved in maintaining beauty positively influences our emotional and physical wellbeing, as well as resulting in decreased stress.

The psychological experience of feeling positive about oneself has shown significant long and short term health benefits. This includes sleeping better, adding up to 7.5 years of life, stress reduction, improves blood pressure, boosts self-confidence, and did you know that scientists discovered people who laugh were less likely to be diagnosed with heart disease!

Being in self-isolation doesn't mean you can't look and feel good. You can enjoy DIY face masks, manicures and pedicures, styling your own hair, take long baths, exercise, and etc.

12. Look after Each Other

Taking care of each other is essential. Scientific benefits of helping each other include living longer, makes you happy, may help with chronic pain, lowers blood pressure, promotes positive behaviours in children and teens, gives us a sense of purpose and satisfaction, and a general "feel good" feeling.

Ways you can help people in self-isolation includes calling friends and family to see how they are, need help with grocery supplies, etc. Ask your elderly or disadvantaged neighbour if they need help with taking the bins out, need grocery or medicine supplies, and practising proper hygiene and sanitary measures to prevent the spread of the viruses and germs.

13. Stop Stockpiling & Hoarding

Reasons, why people hoard and stockpile is due to thinking or feeling that it has sentimental value, is unique and irreplaceable, too big a bargain to throw away, and it will be useful or valuable in the future.

This causes anger, resentment, and depression among family members; it can affect the development of children and lead to separation or divorce, even the loss of children. It also puts a severe financial strain.

Hoarding and stockpiling diminishes the quality of life and puts a massive strain on family members, pets and loved ones, which can lead to family breakups.

It is also a selfish act during a crisis. Remember we live in the land of plenty, please think about others and only buy what you need, not beyond your needs. Not only affects people around you, the environment with excess wastage, but your mental health too.

14. Gardening

Gardening is a recommended activity that encourages the use of many motor skills, improves endurance and strength, and keeps you moving. Other benefits also include a sense of accomplishment, heart health, reduced stress and depression, better sleep, fresh air, improved hand strength, and growing vegetables helps with financial health.

15. Listen to music & learn to play a musical instrument

Listening music helps to increase happiness, improves performance in running and exercise, decreases stress, increasing overall health, improves sleep, reduces depression, helps you to eat less, and strengthens learning and memory.

Learning to play a musical instrument helps to reduce stress, produces patience and perseverance, develops music appreciation, cultivates creativity, uses almost every part of your brain, strengthens your immune system, increases time management skills, and increases memory capability.

16. Get Creative

Getting creative helps to reduce stress and anxiety, allows you to express yourself, gives you a sense of purpose, lead to feelings of accomplishment and pride.

It also allows you to enter your 'happy zone' and have fun and promotes thinking and problem-solving skills.

17. Reach Out

Remember, it is okay to call and discuss how you feel. There is help out there, and organisations including Beyond Blue, Head Space, Lifeline, Black Dog Institute, R U OK, Mind Australia, and many more amazing mental health organisations in Australia that are there to help.

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