Mental Health Hygiene Best Practices for Quarantine
Since childhood, we are taught that personal hygiene is essential for physical health. Our parents and teachers would always emphasize the importance of brushing our teeth after every meal, bathing, changing into clean clothes, tidying up our rooms, and taking out the garbage and other wastes that could become breeding ground for bacteria, viruses, and mold out of the house.
The same principle applies to our mental health. The mind, for all its power and potential, is also notorious for holding in negativity and toxicity. To stay figuratively and literally sane, we need to purge it of disturbing thoughts that can wreak havoc with our mental health. This is a personal responsibility which, if ignored, can also have detrimental effects on our physical health.
Mental Clutter Builds While on Quarantine
Now’s the best time to explore mental hygiene habits. People all over the world have been physically isolating themselves for fear of catching the deadly COVID-19 or coronavirus. The first few days and weeks had been fun. The adults got to stay home during weekdays instead of going to work. Young kids enjoyed having their parents around to play with all day. Many schools suspended classes, so teens and young adults caught a break from their classes and lessons and instead spent hours on the Internet and social media. Many paid for Netflix and other VOD services and binge-watched TV shows and movies because they finally had the time to do it.
As the weeks became months, however, many started to feel anxious about the future. We realized that the pandemic isn’t going away soon, and that restrictions might stay in place for the next two years. For many, the effects of the pandemic are much more stark: job loss, depleted savings, homelessness, and depression. The physical isolation, limited social interactions, and fears for the future led up to a build-up of negative thoughts and feelings. People who are grappling with these must learn to overcome them to maintain their mental health.
Mental Hygiene Habits to Develop
The World Economic Forum recently published an insightful article about the importance of protecting our mental health and in minimizing the impact of the pandemic on our mental well-being and overall health. The Forum gave the following practical tips for maintaining mental hygiene:
- Talk to people you trust. A simple conversation or a family therapy session will help you release tension and gain clarity about your worries. You might find reassurance from the people around you and discover that you shouldn’t fear that much at all.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eat nutritious food, exercise, get enough sleep, stay in touch (remotely, of course) with friends, and participate in community-organized activities that keep people connected during the quarantine. The Reconnecting Exhibit by the Gale Center Museum in South Jordan, Utah, is a good example.
- Resist the urge to indulge in addictive substances like alcohol and drugs. The temporary relief is not worth the lifetime of struggle you could face later on.
- Stay informed about the pandemic by reading reliable news and research. It’s the key to avoid panic and stress.
- Reduce your stress by avoiding media content that aggravates your anxiety.
- Draw on learnings from past experiences on how to cope with stress and manage negative emotions.
The Forum also highlighted the connection between the body and the mind. The article added that stress and mindfulness could both have a massive effect on mental and physical health, albeit in different directions.
With these in mind, people must develop three habits:
- Focus on what you can do, not on what you cannot do.
- Explore new methods of maintaining mental health, from meditation and mindfulness exercises to telemedicine.
- Help other people maintain their mental and physical health as well.
These three habits cultivate a positive environment that’s beneficial for the body and mind. Developing these habits, as well as practicing these actionable tips, will help protect your mental health from coronavirus.