Social distancing means you’re likely not able to be in contact with many of the people you are used to spending time with. You may not be able to see loved ones at all. Calling friends and family on the phone is a nice way to stay connected while you need to physically stay apart. Make a point to reach out to elderly family members or those who may be living alone. Online platforms like Facetime and Skype can help you feel even more connected with friends and family. If you want to get a bigger group together, Zoom is a great free option. Use technology to hold an impromptu book club gathering, an extended family meeting, or a wine night. People have even started to cook dinner with their friends virtually. They choose a recipe together and cook and eat the meal while on video chat. The options for virtual socializing are endless!
If you’re not feeling sick, exercise is a great way to improve your mood and physical health. While the gyms are closed, there are still plenty of options for fitting moderate exercise into your routine. Take your workouts outdoors to one of Dane County's beautiful parks, bike the many trails in the area, or just get out for a long walk in your neighborhood. Just remember to keep your social distance. If you’d rather workout inside, many local gyms and fitness studios are offering classes online. YouTube is also a great source for workouts you can do in your home. Exercise is a great way to keep your immune system strong, as long as you don’t work out too hard. It can also be a great way to relieve stress.
Maintain a healthy diet
When stressful times strike, you might be tempted by your favorite comfort foods. But, eating a healthy diet with plenty of whole grains, high quality fats, fruits, and vegetables is one of the best forms of self care. It’s a great time to experiment with cooking at home. When you prepare meals, aim for a rainbow of colors on your plate to fuel your body with plenty of vitamins and minerals. Challenge yourself to cook a new, nutrient rich recipe each week for variety. Many local restaurants continue to offer take-out and delivery, which is a great option when you don’t feel like cooking.
Rediscover your hobbies
If you have more time on your hands, you may find yourself gravitating back toward an old favorite hobby or considering a new one. It’s a great time to take a free online course, watch a YouTube tutorial, or devote extra time to practicing your skill. If you’ve been meaning to start reading more but haven’t had the time, try checking out ebooks from the Madison Public Library. Use this time to expand your interests and try some new things!
Preserve your mental health
If you find yourself feeling anxious reading the news or scrolling through social media, consider putting limits on the time you spend on those activities. Practicing meditation or mindfulness could be a welcome respite from the constant flow of stressful information. Madison-based organization Healthy Minds Innovations offers a Healthy Minds Program which is freely available to individuals, and there are many other meditation apps on the iPhone and Android app stores. You’ll also find a wide variety of guided meditations on YouTube.
Note: If you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis, call 911 or the Dane County 24-hour Crisis Line at 608-280-2600.