Has isolation gotten into your head? It’s entirely reasonable to feel anxious or depressed about being separated from your family members, friends, and co-workers. Humans are social beings, after all.
Studies have shown that spending time in nature improves mental health and cognitive function. If going outside isn’t an option, you could try bringing nature indoors by growing herbs or plants, opening your windows, or planting fresh flowers in your living space.
Working out causes your brain to release endorphins, which are neurochemicals that boost your mood. Those endorphins can lead to a euphoric feeling (what some might call a “runner’s high”). Exercising also burns the stress hormone, cortisol. Your cortisol level rises when you’re stressed, which can increase anxious feelings.
Be gentle with yourself and remember that not every moment of your day has to be planned out. Check in with your emotional and mental states and let yourself feel whatever you’re feeling. Remember to take deep breaths and allow yourself to rest and recover.
If you keep dwelling on your isolation, meditate may help you find a sense of calm. Meditation apps like Calm and Headspace are easily accessible from home and can guide you through various meditations and techniques to help you relax. A common misconception about meditation is that you have to stay perfectly still and quiet for a certain amount of time. But there are actually a ton of ways you can mediate, such as by walking or mindfully listening to music.
Especially if you live alone, plants can provide a sense of companionship that doesn’t require conversation (just remember to water them!).
Growing indoor plants has an enormous impact on your mental well-being. Houseplants bring a part of nature into your living space, which is especially helpful if your time outdoors is limited or restricted.
Research suggests that even tiny doses of nature in our everyday lives can have lasting effects on our happiness and well-being. One study found that people who did planting tasks felt calmer, more comfortable, and more relaxed than those who performed tech-related tasks.
Because we live in a digital age, all kinds of information is readily accessible (whether we want it or not). There comes a time when staying informed can be more harmful than helpful. Too much phone use or news watching can hurt your mood. Try cutting down on your device use and unplugging from the 24-hour news cycle to find a sense of calm. (You don’t need to know everything about murder hornets right now!)You might not have control over everything in life, but at least you can control how much content and news you expose yourself to.
Although research suggests there’s a link between social media use and the onset of depression and loneliness, social media and communication tools can also provide meaningful interactions. Instead of mindlessly scrolling through your Instagram feed, reach out to people who really matter to you. Video calls via FaceTime or Zoom can create a sense of intimate conversion even though you’re physically distant from each other.
If you’re lucky enough to have a pet, this is a great time to rely on them for companionship. A little physical touch can increase your levels of dopamine and serotonin, hormones that help improve your mood and relieve stress. Plus, if you have a dog that needs to be walked, it’s a great excuse to get your daily dose of fresh air.