Mitigating The Effects Of Social Distancing (infographic)

The U.S. is now the number one in all COVID-19 cases reported. As social distancing continues, people are feeling the effects of prolonged social isolation. Rising anxiety stemming from fears of the pandemic in addition to the confinement can start to take a toll on our mental health. Some may think it’s not such a big deal, but before you write it off take a look at the effects of social isolation.

Social isolation may lead to an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Even short periods of isolation can increase anxiety or depression within a few days. This is because one of our coping mechanisms is interaction within a relationship. At least 77% of Americans say they have one or more close relationships, which provide emotional security and support their well-being.

If you’re thinking “I’ve never had any mental health issues before so I don’t need to worry about all this.” Well think again, even people with no prior history of mental health issues are experiencing difficulty with sleeping, which if left unchecked can feed into further issues. People also are having trouble finding a normal routine, bringing up feelings of dejection and potentially hopelessness. Further, not just with all that’s going on right now, but dealing with isolation has people struggling to concentrate.

For those who were struggling with mental health before the quarantine, it’s become exceedingly more difficult. The new need to frequently wash hands and not touch the face has people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder ramping up their repetitive cleaning behaviors, eventually affecting the performance of other essential tasks. The uncertainty and waiting for new developments has individuals with General Anxiety Disorder dealing with huge waves of paralyzing angst stemming from a lack of control.

While we all may experience similar symptoms and reactions to these difficult times, there are plenty of simple and minor adjustments we can make to transition to this temporary quarantine.

Mental compartmentalization is important, avoid working from your bedroom, couch, or kitchen. We want to be able to mentally change gears from work to home in the evening. Having physical separations helps solidify mental ones. Create a dedicated workspace to make clear to your brain what's what, decorating your space with the same sort of office knick-knacks can help.

Social interaction has become more important to your health, so keep in touch. Stay connected with colleagues through messaging apps like Slack. Make sure to say hi to your friends and family with texting, video calling, phone calls, and social media.

Improving or maintaining your environment goes a long way in bolstering mental health. Cleaning for as little as 10 minutes a day can minimize anxiety. More than half of Americans say cleaning gives them a sense of accomplishment, helps them de-stress, and gives an experience of relaxation.

Clutter causes negative emotions:
  • Confusion
  • Tension
  • Irritability
  • Worry
While clean spaces can foster positive emotions:
  • Happiness
  • Sense of wellbeing
  • Calm
Routines have long been proven essential to not only physical but also mental health.
  • Change out of your pajamas, another mental shift trick to get into work mode
  • Exercise
  • Go for a walk, don’t forget to leave your phone or put it on silent
  • Limit news intake, there’s only so much bad news a person can handle at a time
Staying mentally healthy and strong during this crisis is of the utmost importance. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that mental exercises or therapy are only for people with mental health issues. Find the right resource for you, self-awareness, meditation, therapy?

With Moodkit app you can track mood, activities, thoughts, diet, and social engagement, to gauge how well you’re doing. Headspace pp can guide you through meditation exercises to keep calm. Talk to a therapist through video or text, with apps like Talkspace, LARKR, and Brightside.

Check with your employer, you may qualify for mental health services like teletherapy. Also the Anxiety and Depression Association of America has great tips and tools for managing mental health. During the current crisis, many organizations are stepping up to help, it’s up to you to search for the resources that you need.

With the world seemingly out of control, let us not forget that we are ultimately in control of our reactions, and with a little work our mental health too.

Learn more about mental health under quarantine here!

Mental Health Under Quarantine - Infographic

Read next: #PlayApartTogether and Connect with each other via Video Games, says World Health Organization!
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