Health experts are recommending "social distancing" — staying home and going out only for essentials. Some people relish the idea, while others get a bit stir-crazy, even as we know it’s for the greater good.
Uncertain times like these can feel stressful. But much of how we cope depends on our mental attitude. Instead of stressing over things beyond your control, use this time alone to improve your health and well-being — from getting more exercise to taking up the meditation practice you’ve wanted to start for years. You can take on home projects, take in a pet, or take up a hobby. If you’ve lost work, seek out solutions, such as looking for work in industries that are hiring, redoing your resume, or networking online.
Even if you’re busy, working from home while trying to entertain or educate kids or grandkids, you most likely will have some extra time on your hands, since most activities have shut down temporarily. Understand that as hard as it is, your simple action of staying home keeps your community and yourself healthy. Use the extra time for things you always wanted to do! Be intentional.
We don’t expect you to do all of these things but try picking one or two and staying with it. You will feel great with your results when your day-to-day life gets back to normal.
Best Ideas for Self-Care During Social Distancing
Keeping yourself and your immediate family at home can be great for some people. Introverts might relish the extra time to themselves or with the family. Other people may feel antsy and uncomfortable with the disruption to their normal schedule or may miss their social life and feel lonely. Being isolated can really affect people struggling with depression or recent heartbreak. If you are in the latter category, make sure you have support — we will give some ideas below.
Below, we’ve collected some ideas that may help you get through this time thriving and feeling great, separated into three major categories.
Keep Calm & De-stress
Staying calm and peaceful when everything around you is changing and uncertain can feel tough. The truth is that worrying can not add anything to the situation but additional stress. The truth is, we have little control over certain situations. Accepting the situation for what it is and making the best of it may ultimately make you feel better. Try to stay centered and grounded, grateful for what you have, and focused on the things you can control.
Use Your Time Online Wisely
The internet is our modern-day connection to the world. It’s great! But it can also be a source of stress, particularly when endlessly reading the latest headlines. Limit how often you check the news — no more than once in the morning and once in the evening. Especially, don't stay up late online or watching television because it changes your sleep patterns, which weakens the immune system.
Instead, use your time online to do something positive. Join an active online community that supports you, and where you can connect with like-minded folks. You can find social media groups that support hobbies, remote workers, homeschooling, or fitness and natural health group (check out Global Healing’s Facebook Group!).
Look, we even love funny cat videos as a way to relieve stress! But make your online time useful for you — and mix it up with other "in real life" activities.
Ease Stress With Meditation
If I had a nickel for everyone who told me that they would meditate if they just had the time… Well, now is the perfect time to start meditating!
Meditation changes your brain in a positive way; this calming practice reduces stress, decreases anxiety and depression, eases pain, and improves memory. Wow! It physiologically changes your body by lowering blood pressure, slowing heart rate and breathing, improving oxygen utilization, and improving blood flow to the front part of the brain.[1, 2] It’s simple; all you have to do is to do it!
Meditate first thing in the morning if you can, but anytime will work. Find a quiet, comfortable space where you can be uninterrupted for at least ten minutes. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. If you can’t get the hang of it on your own, there are many apps or Youtube videos with gentle calming music or guided meditations. Start a lifelong practice today.
Take a Healing Bath
Baths can transform your day — calming your mind and relaxing your body. Just hot water alone can do this. But when you add relaxing mineral salts like Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate), Bentonite clay, or others, you can transform your bath into a healing "hot spring" — as if you were enjoying a natural spring in the desert or mountains.
A bath doesn’t have to take long. Just fifteen minutes, and it will change your mood and physiologically calm your body. Take deep breaths and enjoy this peaceful moment away from the world.
Drink a Cup of Herbal Tea
Nothing soothes the soul like wrapping your hands around a warm cup of tea. People have used herbal teas for healing, immunity, and comfort for centuries. Each tea has different properties.
Try an App for That!
If you use your home-time to take up meditation, yoga, exercise, cooking, or finding an online therapist to talk with — there’s an app for that! Explore your options and download a couple, try them out, and see what works for you. Some of the best apps cost money, but some are free.
If you want to de-stress, there are amazing apps that help you calm down. You can choose a peaceful background image, play gentle music for a few minutes, or listen to a guided meditation.
If you want to bring your fitness to the next level, there are apps that log your food and calories, apps with exercise videos, and apps to motivate you to take more steps (most people can go outside while social distancing as long as you keep your distance — go for a walk!)
If you’re feeling very down, there are several apps where trained and educated psychotherapists offer both text, voice, and video counseling.
One great way to counter stress and stay sane during all the upheaval is to laugh and have fun! We have some ideas for you to mix things up and keep this life experiment interesting. Here are some ideas.
Social distancing does not mean watching endless television. Depending on the laws and guidelines in your specific community, it does not necessarily mean staying inside your home all the time. However, please respect the necessity to stay at least six feet away from others, and avoid crowded beaches and hiking trails.
If you can find a more secluded area and can keep your distance, go for a walk, run, hike, or bike ride. Stroll through your neighborhood or a local park. If you’re lucky enough to have natural areas near you, go for a hike! Being surrounded by nature has incredibly positive effects on your well-being.[7, 8]
If you’re already a runner or cyclist, we don’t have to tell you — I’m sure you will be getting outside. But if you’re not already a cyclist, consider getting a new bike or taking yours out of storage and taking a ride.
Or, get in the water! If you have your own equipment, canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding are other great ways to get active outdoors without having to interact with other people.
For another outdoor option, consider setting up a laptop outside and doing a fitness workout with a cool breeze. Be creative!
Play Board Games
If you want to limit screen time for yourself or kids, it could be a return to times of old when board games kept people occupied for hours. If you don’t have any, order a few online. Many board games — or a deck of cards — are inexpensive. You can even try to learn a new game.
Scrabble, Monopoly, Life, or even a game of chess or checkers are great options. Puzzles are also great for the mind. These can take up time and be educational at the same time.
A simple deck of cards brings with it a hundred card games, and with the internet, you can usually find the instructions online. If you’re staying alone, take up solitaire! It’s quite entertaining and easy to learn.
Read a Book
Reading is a popular pastime that many people feel they don’t have time to do. Use this extra time to read that book — or two or three — that you’ve been wanting to. Reading improves your cognitive function — including vocabulary, reasoning, concentration, and critical thinking skills. It also helps you live longer!
Buying new books helps by supporting businesses, including self-employed writers. However, libraries are a great way to borrow books on the cheap. If your library is closed, most of them have online systems where you can still borrow audiobooks and e-books. You can even find online book clubs to discuss your latest read with.
If you have kids, make sure they use this time to get some reading done, as well. It will keep their minds active while they are out of school. To make it an even more educational experience, have children write down words they don’t know in a notebook and then go define them later.
Take Up a New Hobby
Use the extra time to get creative. Have you always wanted to learn to knit? (a calming, meditative habit!) Or plant an herb or vegetable garden? Or learn to paint? Play the guitar? Many companies are making online classes free, so see what they have to offer!
You can order supplies online, which helps keep businesses afloat during this difficult time. Be aware some companies may be prioritizing essentials and grocery deliveries, so shipping may be delayed, but you can still get supplies and get rolling before much time has passed.
While it’s not a hobby per se, if you’ve been wanting a warm fuzzy family companion, you can use this extra stay-at-home time to bond with a new pup or kitty, especially a shelter pet. Many shelters have had to close and animal organizations are looking for (temporary or permanent) pet moms and dads.
Use the Opportunity!
We know that many people are seriously struggling, from financial or job concerns to health issues and fear of what’s to come. But the reality is, if you are social distancing at home and have extra hours in the day — make the most of this opportunity. When you deal with change with a positive attitude, it improves your resilience and strength.
Catch up on Your At-Home To-Do List
If you’re like most people, you have a to-do list (or a honey-do list) of things to finish — or start. If you haven’t already, write the list down on paper and then prioritize.
Find supplies online and get started! Home improvement stores often have great Youtube channels with helpful how-to videos. People often say they wish they had extra time in the day — well now you have it!
You can fix broken items, clean your windows inside and out, or get your landscaping in great shape. You’ll feel productive and useful, which is particularly helpful for more elderly individuals.[10, 11]
Try New Recipes
If you’ve always wished you had more time to create healthy, interesting recipes, now’s the time! You can combine this with a health or exercise goal.
Don’t succumb to the temptation to be a couch potato, watching movies all day in your living room, because that’s associated with eating junk food. Instead, buy some kale and a dehydrator and make some crunchy kale chips! Or whip up some soul-nourishing recipes, like our mango-chia pudding, korma curry with moringa leaves, or spicy mushroom stir-fry recipes. When you don’t feel like making food, order take-out or delivery from restaurants to support the local economy — especially small businesses that are likely struggling.
You can also get a juicer and try different combinations of vegetables and fruits for optimal health. Fresh juice can super-boost your immunity! For more immunity-boosting foods and supplements, check out Dr. Group, DC’s Emergency Immune Strengthening Guide.
Check-In With Your Family & Neighbors
Even if you are doing great with being alone, some of your friends, family members, or neighbors may not be. Use the time to connect with them via phone, text, or email to check if anyone wants anything. Some people in high-risk categories may fear going out to stores, so see if you can pick something up for them when you go.
Your loved ones also may just appreciate the time spent socializing, especially on a phone or video call, since they can’t get out and see other people in person.
Some churches, synagogues, and community groups are creating task forces to help with community outreach. You can reach out to local groups — most religious groups love to help others no matter what your background.
If you have lost your job, these groups may have others who can mow your lawn or do yard work, or pick up groceries if you require help with that. The great thing about crises like this one is that it can bring out the best in others. If you are able-bodied and willing, volunteer to help where you can.
Points to Remember
Social distancing does not have to mean total isolation. Most people during this time are requested to limit social gatherings to less than 10 people — sometimes less, depending on your area. Staying home with your immediate family is the best option for the time being. Take a warm bath, use essential oils, drink a cup of warm herbal tea, and make sure to take care of yourself. Get more rest; start a habit of turning the lights and electronics off 5 to 10 minutes earlier each night to train the body to go to bed earlier, get more restful sleep, and have more productive mornings. This will boost your immune system, as well.
While the internet can be a fantastic source of support during times of isolation, use your online time wisely. Find online classes to take up a new hobby or skill or to connect with others but don’t spend too much time online, especially reading the news.
Have some fun! Whether you go outside to run, bike, walk, or canoe, spending time in nature while getting some exercise is a great option. If you prefer to stick to home, there are hundreds of online exercise videos to do — many being offered free at this time.
Don’t forget to laugh! Watch funny movies or Youtube videos, horseplay with your kids, or have some fun with board games.
Most importantly, stay connected with friends, family, and neighbors via phone, text, email, or video chat. Make sure everyone is doing ok — some people may not feel comfortable sharing their requests for help unless asked. If you know anyone seriously struggling emotionally, including yourself, reach out for help — there are even online counseling apps with professional, licensed therapists. We will get through this together!
- Sharma H. Meditation: process and effects. Ayu. 2015 Jul-Sep; 36(3): 233–237.
- Meditation: In Depth. National Institute for Complementary and Integrative Health. Updated 2 Jan 2019. Accessed 17 Mat 2020.
- Cohen MM. Tulsi - Ocimum sanctum: a herb for all reasons. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2014 Oct-Dec;5(4):251-259.
- Chacko SM, et al. Beneficial effects of green tea: A literature review. Chin Med. 2010; 5: 13.
- Tiralongo E, et al. Elderberry supplementation reduces cold duration and symptoms in air-travellers: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Nutrients. 2016 Apr; 8(4): 182.
- Steptoe A, et al. The effects of tea on psychophysiological stress responsivity and post-stress recovery: a randomised double-blind trial. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2007 Jan;190(1):81-89.
- Lee I, et al. Effects of forest therapy on depressive symptoms among adults: a systematic review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017;14(3):321.
- Song C, et al. Physiological effects of nature therapy: a review of the research in Japan. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2016;13(8):781.
- Bavishi A, et al. A chapter a day – association of book reading with longevity. Soc Sci Med. 2016 Sep; 164: 44–48.
- Mendoza-Ruvalcaba NM, et al. “I am active”: effects of a program to promote active aging. Clin Interv Aging. 2015;10:829-837.
- McPhee JS, et al. Physical activity in older age: perspectives for healthy ageing and frailty. Biogerontology. 2016;17:567-580.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.