Mental health experts often stress the benefits of maintaining a consistent routine. You may have spent months or even years cultivating a routine. This may have helped you to maintain your physical and mental health. This may include following a gym schedule, prepping healthy meals, and consistently making plans with friends. Exercise, healthy eating, and socializing are all important building blocks for many people’s mental health routines. However, as the recent COVID-19 social distancing mandates restrict everyone to their homes, these routines have been abruptly disrupted. For many, not being able to carry out their routines can have detrimental effects on mental health. Compiled below are a few alternatives to activities that are in many people’s mental health routines. Consider this a guideline, use your creativity, and come up with your own list of alternative activities. Use this to help maintain your mental health during this time.
Instead of going out to the movies, start a Facebook watch party!
Though everyone enjoys binge-watching their favorite series on Netflix every once in a while (or all the time), doing so while social distancing can feel particularly lonely. You cannot invite a friend over to watch a series or go out to see a movie. Instead, try video chatting with one or more of your friends. They can also put on the same program as you. It is very easy to time it so that you two are watching simultaneously and can react to and discuss things as they happen. Facebook also has a great feature called “watch party” that many people may not be aware of. If you have a movie saved onto your laptop or computer you can stream it on your Facebook feed. Then, invite certain, or all of, your Facebook friends to watch with you. The commenting feature can also be enabled so that everyone can have a lively, but silent discussion that won’t disturb anyone.
Instead of going to the gym, pull out your yoga mat and a Youtube video!
Many people prefer to attend fitness classes or go to the gym with a friend rather than going alone. It can be very motivating and beneficial overall to have someone who can provide reinforcement, instruction, or even just companionship. While social distancing, try setting up a yoga class with yourself and maybe one or two of your friends. There are plenty of yoga instructors on Youtube, and some, such as Faith Hunter, even integrate concepts of mindfulness and meditation into their instruction. Pull up a video and follow along, feel free to facetime/video call your usual gym partner and have them join in as well!
Instead of socializing in person, play a social video game
Many people are finding comfort in playing social video games such as Animal Crossing, role-playing games such as World of Warcraft, and even something as simple as Facebook Games. Social video games allow you to connect with your friends to collaborate, trade, or just play minigames together. Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games, or MMORPGs, are games in which one assumes an identity within the universe of the game and role plays with strangers from around the world. It can allow for numerous possibilities for social interaction and collaboration. If you do not have a gaming system, or are not much of a gamer in general, playing light and fun games with your friends on facebook may be your cup of tea. You can play live or just play back and forth and compare/compete scores. Overall, social play is an important human activity for both children and adults, and modern technology allows us to do this from the safety of our homes.
Instead of grocery shopping for healthy meals, try a meal delivery service
If you would rather not risk going to the grocery store, consider trying meal delivery services. Some great ones to try are Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, HomeChef, and EveryPlate. There are plenty of healthy options that accommodate a variety of eating restrictions. There are also different levels of cooking ability. Whether you are a masterchef home cook or a novice, meal kits are a great opportunity to learn how to cook new meals that are healthy and affordable. In addition, the majority of meal delivery services offer major discounts to first time customers, so this is an excellent time to try out a few different services. You would try a variety of healthy meals, save a bit of money, and never have to leave your house!
Thanks to the technology available to us today, there are many ways to maintain our mental health routines from home. It is important to keep an open mind and be willing to try a variety of new things. Think about an activity you miss doing with friends or a mental health ritual you can no longer do. What do you like about it? Is there any way to replicate any aspect of it from your home setting? Get creative and be open to exploration, you may even discover an activity that becomes a permanent addition to your mental health routine.
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