How to Stay Mentally Well During the COVID-19 Pandemic

With social distancing in full effect, older adults are encouraged to maintain their distance from others. But this can have a major impact on your quality of life.

It's essential that during the COVID-19 pandemic that older adults stay physically safe and mentally well. Research shows that older adults who engage in meaningful and productive activities live longer, experience a better mood, and maintain a sense of purpose in their life. 
Here are 10 ways older adults can stay physically safe and mentally well during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

1. Stay connected with friends and family
Social distancing is important in maintaining your physical health and well-being in the time of COVID-19. And this is an important public health recommendation that we all need to follow.
The downside of social distancing, however, is that it increases the risk for loneliness and isolation among older adults. 
One of the best ways to stay mentally well during uncertain times, is to stay connected to the people who mean the most to you. Because, when we are facing uncertainty, the comfort of close relationships offers soothing and reassurance.

With "social distancing" in full effect, you may not be able to see your loved ones in person, but with modern technology there are all sorts of ways to stay connected. 
For example, FaceTime (iphone), WhatsApp, and Skype all have video telephone options. And if those options seem out of reach, there's the good ole fashion telephone!
The key here is to stay in touch with the people who matter most to you!

2. Keep a daily routine
With so much out of your control during the Coronavirus pandemic, a routine can help to bring some order to the chaos.

A daily routine offers a number of benefits!  It can help provide a sense of predictability and security. It can  help to reduce stress and anxiety, and it has the added benefit of helping you sleep better at night.

3. Maintain a healthy diet
 A healthy diet is essential to staying both physically and mentally healthy. A healthy diet helps our organs to function at their best, helps to maintain our memory and cognitive ability, helps to manage chronic conditions (like blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, etc.), helps to strengthen the immune system, and promotes muscle and bone health.

4. Stay physically fit
There are many ways to stay  physically fit at home. 
  • Take a hike or a long walk 
  • Stretch or do yoga in your living room. Silver Sneakers is a YouTube channel helping older adults exercise (best of all it's free). Try their 7-minute Yoga Workout for Older Adults 

5. Get some  fresh air
Social distancing doesn't mean that you have to stay in your house with the windows closed 
  • Go for a walk
  • Sit outside and read a book 
  • Sit outside and enjoy a cool drink or cup of hot tea
  • Work in the garden 

6. Limit your TV time to just a couple of credible sources
Getting caught up in the Coronavirus news can be overwhelming and cause unnecessary anxiety and stress.  Here are two credible sources for Coronavirus news:

7. Spend time on a hobby (new or old)
Spending time on hobbies not only helps to pass the time, it also helps to reduce stress by focusing on positive and creative activities.

8. Complete those household projects
Social distancing offers the perfect opportunity to complete those household tasks you've been delaying.
  1. Create a list of household projects
  2. Decide which projects require things that you need to shop for.
  3. Prioritize the list of projects (consider putting the projects that require shopping at the end of the list)
  4. Start on the first project at the top of your list.
  5. Pace yourself  

9. Stimulate your mind
Enjoy doing crossword puzzles? Reading books? Playing chess? Keeping your brain stimulated is important during social distancing.
  • Not sure if you'll continue to get your New York Times crossword puzzle in the mail? Now you can get the NYT's puzzles online!
  • Missing your book club? Consider reading your monthly book, then setting up a Zoom call with your book club friends to get together online and talk about the book.
  • Not sure how to keep your weekly chess matches going? Call up an old friend and see if they're up for a chess match on the phone.

10. Try something new!
Does social distancing have you watching more TV than usual? Take a break from the TV and listen to a podcast. Give podcasts a try! Podcasts are essentially online radio shows. Here are three to get you started.
  • This American Life is a public radio program that identifies a weekly theme then puts together human-interest stories related to that theme.
  • On Being is a Peabody Award-winning public radio show and podcast. It answers the questions: What does it mean to be human? How do we want to live? And who will we be to each other? Each week offers a new discovery about the immensity of our lives.
  • TED Talks are short, powerful lectures from experts in all sorts of fields

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