While mental health, self-care, and stress management should always have a place of importance in your life, the outbreak of COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus, has launched a new wave of stress and uncertainty. Learning to cope with fear and anxiety during the #StayAtHome period of social distancing and self-quarantining is unprecedented. Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed or you just want to continue to monitor your mental wellness, here are 4 ways that you can improve your mental health during this time.

1. Dedicate Time to Unwind

Depending on your personal circumstances, your life balance may have shifted suddenly with the onset of the pandemic. You may no longer have a steady work routine and are working remotely instead. You may be home with your kids and spouse for hours each day. You may not see other individuals you’re used to seeing daily. You may feel weighed down and burdened by responsibilities like homeschooling your children or doing more housework that simply didn’t exist because you weren’t home as often.

Whatever the case may be, remember that you still deserve time to unwind. Allow yourself time to set back from your duties and do something just for you for stress management purposes. Read a book, watch a show, take a bath, go for a walk around the block or do something else that has no strings attached. Put something on the schedule that helps you unwind and stick to it!

2. Get Connected

Feeling lonely and disconnected can really take a toll on your mental health, and this #StayAtHome period has a lot of people feeling that way. It’s not just you! If you’re feeling like everyone else is doing just fine know that you’re not alone. Get connected via text, call, FaceTime, e-mail or any other method that helps you chat with friends and family you may not be able to be present with. Sometimes just talking it out with others can help your mental health more than you realize.

3. Keep Moving

It’s springtime! The weather is improving daily, and this should be your encouragement to get moving, no matter the situation. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins that can improve your mood. Now, if you’re someone who typically dreads exercise, it’s essential that you find something you enjoy. This should be a portion of your self-care routine that you look forward to. Walk, run, ride a bike, do yoga, create a workout circuit at home or do anything else that helps you to stay mentally and physically well.

4. Take Care of Your Body

When your world starts to rock, you may turn to food, alcohol, drugs or other habits that make you feel in control. This is common and natural. Yet, taking care of your body can help your mind remain healthy because the rest of your body is balanced. So, be sure to eat a nutritious diet. Consume alcohol only in moderation – a glass of wine is okay. Drink plenty of water and get a full night’s rest. Lack of sleep often increases the rates of both anxiety and depression. Keeping all of the above factors in mind can help to alleviate stress and improve mental health during quarantine.

Final thoughts

In these days of uncertainty, your mental health doesn’t have to suffer. Stress management and self-care are an important part of the preparation process. Use the above tips to help improve your mental health and be sure to reach out if you feel you need additional support coping with stress.