Simple Tips to Help You Feel Better When You’re Stuck Inside for a Long Time
How many days has it been now since you’ve been stuck inside? Is it because of bad weather? A health condition? Or the dreaded pandemic that’s wreaking havoc in almost every corner of the world?
Whatever it is, I’m sure you’re feeling out of sorts. Let me guess, you’re less energetic, your enthusiasm is waning, and you’re getting more and more groggy by the day. Perhaps you’re also feeling a little anxious—like the kind of unsettling restlessness that you’d get when you have to sit still for a long time. And you’re starting to wonder—with growing despair and frustration—how much longer this will last.
I know how you feel. I’ve been stuck at home too for the past two weeks due to social distancing, and I’m starting to feel the dip in my mood. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending how you look at it), this is not my first foray into social distancing.
When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I suffered two bouts of Leukemia which put me through long periods of isolation.
The illness forced me to stay home for months at a time. As my physical strength and immunity deteriorated, it became not only cumbersome, but also dangerous to go out. It was tough, especially at an age where every fiber of your being wants to go and explore the world.
I gained a lot of weight. I lost my sense of self. And I fell into a dark place. But eventually, I learned to cope with being stuck inside. I learned how to enjoy life even if I couldn’t go wherever I wanted.
The experience taught me just how important certain things that we take for granted—like a hot bath or a satisfying meal—are to our happiness, and showed me how a few simple changes in our behaviours can make a profound difference in how we feel.
So today, I’m sharing the lessons I learned from that experience—things that helped me stave off anxiety, boredom, and loneliness during long periods of isolation. My hope is to show you that there are plenty of proactive things you can do to keep your spirits up when you’re stuck inside, and that you’re in control of how each day plays out.
But first, let me introduce this free bonus content that I created called “30 Ways to Feel More Positive Right Now”, and you guessed it, it contains 30 little activities you can do at home to give your mood a boost.
6 Tips to Help Lift Your Spirits When You’re Stuck At Home
1. Maintain a Regular Routine
When you’re at home all the time, it’s tempting to throw your usual routine out the window.
Sleeping in every day? Binging on Netflix all day? Staying up past your normal bedtime? A day or two of living without a schedule does no harm but over time it will cost you.
Research shows that having a consistent, regular daily routine can help maintain a sense of emotional and mental wellbeing. Just because you can’t do all the things you usually do doesn’t mean you can’t maintain a routine of some kind.
Here are some simple ways to establish a routine when you’re stuck at home every day:
- Get up and go to sleep around the same time each day.
- Eat your meals according to a preset schedule.
- Invest time in productive hobbies and book these activities into your calendar, such as journaling. Check out this article on journaling to learn how you can create a journaling habit that will stick and the best tools to help you fall in love with journaling.
2. Get Dressed
Are you in your pajamas all day, every day?
Hey I get it, it’s completely understandable. They’re soft and cozy, and if you’re not going out, why bother putting on pants?
But here’s my advice: you can skip the work clothes and dress down, but do make sure you’re wearing clothes other than your bathrobes and PJ’s.
Why? When we stop dressing in clothes we’d normally wear on a day-to-day, we start to lose our sense of identity. And a sense of identity is vital to our mental health.
So unless you’re a professional lounger, a pajamas model, or the next Hugh Hefner, ditch the bathrobe/PJ set and get dressed. You’ll start to feel a lot more like your usual self.
3. Connect With Others Virtually
Having strong social connections in life is vital to our health and wellbeing. It benefits us in so many ways including strengthening our immune system, lowering our anxiety, and even lengthening our lifespan.
But how do you build relationships with people if you can’t even leave the house?
With today’s technology, you have so many different options to connect with friends and family. Just the other day, a coworker told me he had his first “virtual dinner party” with his extended family. He said he felt a little weird at first because he’s from an “older generation” (his words, not mine) but he ended up having a great time!
You see, with a little creativity, you too can strengthen your relationships with others without having to be physically together all the time.
Now here’s a challenge: Make it a goal to connect with someone you haven’t talked to in a while every week, or if you haven’t done it already, host your first virtual dinner party!
Exercise has many benefits for the body and the mind, including warding off depression and anxiety. It’s best if you can do some aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, or cycling in the great outdoors, but I know that’s not always an option (like with the pandemic going on right now).
If you can’t go out to exercise, don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine, or you can download a free fitness app like the 7 Minute Workout app by Johnson & Johnson.
The point is, don’t sit on the couch all day (or even worse, stay in bed—unless you’re really that sick). Get up and get your blood moving. It’ll help you shake off that grogginess and lift your mood at the same time.
5. Eat Well
Being stuck at home isn’t fun, I get it, but If you’re starting to feel a noticeable drop in mood and energy, your diet may be the culprit.
Let’s face it, you can’t live off of chips and soda and expect to have the energy and mental acuity of a top athlete. When it comes to our physical and mental performance, we really are what we eat.
I know you’re bored, restless, and probably a little (or a lot) stressed, and it makes you crave highly processed foods rich in sugar and fat. While it’s okay to eat these things (we all got to live a little right?), you have to exercise some degree of restraint and practice moderation.
For example, I’m a sucker for donuts, but instead of eating a whole donut in one setting, I’ll cut it in half. It might not seem significant, but over time it’s helped keep a lot of extra donuts out of my body and off of my hips.
And at the same time, you need to make sure you’re consuming at least 10 portions of fruits and vegetables a day, eating whole, natural foods whenever possible, and sticking to a consistent eating schedule so you don’t end up making bad food choices out of hunger.
Remember, eat well, or you won’t be giving your mind the fuel it needs to feel good.
6. Focus on Things Within Your Control
It’s okay to feel restless, worried, or even angry—this is to be expected when you stay inside for too long. But no matter how out of control a situation seems, there are things that are still within our control—like our response, our attitude, and how we choose to treat others around us.
So instead of complaining about being stuck inside or ruminating over how much longer you’ll have to stay home, focus your attention on things you can control. For example, what CAN you learn during this period? What CAN you do to help others who are also struggling to cope with the same situation? And What CAN you do to make your day a little brighter and more meaningful?
And that’s it for my tips on how to keep your spirits up when you’re stuck at home. Now tell me, what are you looking forward to the most when you can go out once again? Share your thoughts with me in the comment below!