BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) While cooped up during the coronavirus pandemic, it can be a challenge to maintain a healthy body and mind, but experts have some recommendations to keep you feeling good.
Normally, this time of year is when people with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or depression start to feel relief from their symptoms, but University of Vermont Psychological Science Professor Kelly Rohan says those same people might be experiencing more anxiety over coronavirus concerns than others. Overall, she says these are the five main focuses: keeping a schedule, continuing your hobbies, limiting exposure to news, getting outside and practicing positive thinking.
Rohan suggests both those who suffer from the symptoms and even those who usually don’t, be proactive about having a routine — like going to bed and waking up at a consistent time and taking a shower and getting dressed on days you’d normally work. She also encourages regularly walking outside and limiting news consumption to about a half-hour a day. Rohan says perhaps the most important adjustment is actively turning to the ones you love for socialization and support.
“Anybody who’s outside your social network who’s not in your household, we have to get creative about how we stay connected with those people,” Rohan said. “The telephone, video conferencing, that’s the world that we live in right now. Are we missing that sense of intimacy, physical contact? Yes absolutely, but why are we doing this? It’s to keep each other safe and for the greater good.”
Rohan says isolation can weigh on the mind, so she says these tips can especially help those working from home.
“Maintaining a sense of normalcy as much as possible is super important to our mental health right now. Follow a schedule, maintain a routine, get up, shower, get dressed, eat your meals and snacks when you usually do,” Rohan said.
Jackson Thibault is working remotely from his Colchester home, and his employer recently extended the date when he can return to the office indefinitely.
“The first week it was like, ‘OK, I can do this.’ Then the next week I definitely had to have a barrier between working and being at home,” Thibault said.
The website designer says he’s gradually built not only a physical barrier between work and home but a mental one. While he enjoyed time with his dog, he started to limit how much they lounged together. Though he’d set up a proper workspace at his dining room table, he soon realized simple adjustments like changing out of his pajamas had an impact on his productivity.
“Once I’m in work mode, I just kind of stay there as much as possible and try to get my work done and then once I’m done, I close my laptop and I’m out of that room for the day. I can’t be in there any longer,” said Thibault.
Rohan recommends rather than viewing today’s uncertainty as a burden, we should see it as an opportunity.
“This is an opportunity for us to witness the world coming together in an unprecedented way to solve a problem,” said Rohan. “It’s an opportunity to work together to protect our loved ones. It’s an opportunity to feel more compassion for other people, and to appreciate life more.”
Thibault says people working from home should do the same by counting their blessings.
“A lot of people are out of jobs right now and you’re lucky enough that you’re still being able to works,” said Thibault.
Rohan says mental health professionals are still available to help patients via video chat and phone, and she encourages you to reach out if you need to talk to someone.