Simple Stay-at-Home Coping Tips for Optimal Mental Health

Being disciplined about your coping will make staying at home more successful.

Posted Apr 16, 2020

Because human beings are social creatures, staying at home due to COVID-19 is challenging and frustrating. Spending almost the entire day inside is not only challenging for your physical health but also for your mental health.

The key to coping as well as possible is to stay disciplined and engage positive coping mechanisms. Below, I have included some tips that will reduce anxiety and stress and improve mood.

  • Exercise (at home or virtual) is crucial while being forced to stay at home. In addition to any usual exercises you engage in that can be done at home, use this period to also try a new exercise activity or two. 
  • Getting organized (closets, rooms, garages) is one of the most effective ways to increase one's sense of control, distracting from negative thoughts and feelings.
  • Work on professional or schoolwork. These activities give your brain something clear and tangible to focus on. When you're focused, you are less likely to feel overwhelmed by negative, obsessive, or worrying thoughts. 
  • Cook something special or indulgent for yourself or those you live with, which nurtures you and also gives you something concrete to focus on. In addition, making special meals gives you something to look forward to throughout the day.
  • Use what mental health professionals call “positive self-talk.” When negative thoughts or feelings get triggered, recite a simple mantra to yourself. Examples: “This is annoying now, but this isn’t permanent and things will get better soon”; “All I can do is focus on what I can control”; “I know that making good choices is what will help me achieve my goals later.”
  • Make a conscious effort while staying at home to talk openly about your own mental health as you navigate the quarantine experience. Share with any family members or friends any anxiety or depressive feelings you may be having, and make sure to reach out to a mental health professional if you are feeling unable to cope or are having any thoughts of self-harm. When you connect with family and friends, also make a point to ask how their mental health has been throughout this period. Doing so will make you and your friends and family feel more connected, reduce the sense of isolation, and further destigmatize talking about mental health.

Finally, remember that getting annoyed or frustrated while staying at home is a perfectly normal reaction. In fact, feeling occasionally upset by the upheaval to your life is a normal reaction to a very abnormal situation.