Here’s How To Take Care Of Your Mental Health While Staying At Home

When big, life-changing events happen, it’s important to take stock of your mental health.

We decided to check in with Katrina Ruege, a Licensed Professional Counselor, to talk about how important mental health is and how people can take care of themselves while navigating these unknown waters.

It’s hard to know where to begin when dealing with something as overwhelming as a global pandemic, but the first step starts with a conversation. “The first thing I would recommend to someone who is struggling with anxiety during this crisis is to reach out and talk to someone,” said Ruege.

This advice isn’t limited to those who have struggled with anxiety in the past. In case you haven’t noticed, coronavirus is kind of a big deal. That means that people who may otherwise not encounter anxiety issues could be venturing into new territory.

“Even those who did not have anxiety concerns prior to this pandemic may find themselves ruminating, irritable or having unwanted racing thoughts,” said Ruege. “We all really are in this together and need to lean on each other for support.”

The good news is that there are steps we can all take to help mitigate the stress of being ordered to stay-at-home. Three things that can really help you adapt to this new lifestyle are maintaining your normal routine, creating a schedule, and taking care of yourself socially, emotionally, and physically.

Following your normal routine means waking up, taking a shower, getting dressed, and eating breakfast. When it comes to creating a schedule, the whole goal is to help with your productivity.

As for taking care of yourself, Ruege recommends scheduling in “breaks where you reach out to friends and family, journal your quarantine thoughts and feelings, read uplifting quotes, take walks, or exercise to a YouTube boot camp or yoga.”

If you’ve been putting off getting into yoga, now is really the time to jump in. You can take tons of online classes hosted by Columbus studios and Yoga professionals. They vary by cost and skill level, and Columbus Yoga Festival has put together a great resource for any potential new yogis, which you can find here.

Although the secret stash of quarantine snacks may sound appealing, it’s also important to remember that what you eat can make a big difference in how you feel. “As a clinical counselor, I am focused on my clients’ mental well being but I very much recognize the mind-body connection,” said Ruege. “It is so important to maintain physical activity and well-balanced nutrition. This is an opportunity to spend time learning new healthy recipes, as cooking can be one way to reduce stress.”

Cooking has totally changed the way my house is running right now. My husband has the kitchen skills, but I don’t think he’d mind me saying that all of our meals haven’t been from scratch. All around the city, various restaurants and businesses are offering meal kits. Our two favorites have been from FUSIAN (I’m still dreaming about the Chicken Terriyaki stirfry kit) and The Kitchen (we see you, Italian Inspired meal kit, we see you).

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One thing that’s always a good idea, quarantine or no quarantine, is knowing what resources you have available. Telemedicine is rapidly expanding right now, due to the crisis, which means finding the perfect therapist can be done from your home. PsychologyToday.com is a great resource for those in Columbus looking to find a therapist. It’s also worth stopping by the CDC’s website to check out their Stress & Coping suggestions.

The biggest recommendation Katrina gave is one I’ve believed in for a very long time. It’s the power of kindness, both with yourself and others.

“This is one of the greatest challenges our world has ever faced and being kind to ourselves and others will go a long way. Practicing daily gratitude of those around you as well as self-gratitude can tremendously help your emotional well being,” said Ruege. “And remember to reach out to a mental health professional. Seeking counseling is a wonderful way to support yourself during this time.”

Okay, folks, you heard her. Offer yourself and those around you a little kindness today! We could all use it.

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