As the spread of Coronavirus Covid-19 worsens across the globe, the vast majority of countries are either in lockdown or residents are being strictly encouraged to practice social distancing. While the opportunity to binge watch TV series and films to your heart’s content might sound appealing at first, after a few days, you are likely to start searching for something slightly more mentally stimulating. Cabin fever is also certain to hit at some point or another, if it has not yet already. Below is a brief explanation of social distancing and how to do it, along with useful advice for keeping your mind busy during these trying times.
What is social distancing?
Social distancing refers to the practice of steering clear of as much social interaction with those who do not live with you inside your household as possible. Due to the fact that Covid-19 spreads through human to human contact, limited interaction with others means that the risk of getting the infection and/or spreading it further is greatly reduced.
How is social distancing done?
It’s very simple. Just stay home. The only time that you should be venturing out is when you are in need of food or medical essentials, or need to seek out medical care.
Why does the mind suffer when cooped up for long periods?
The long and short of it is that humans simply aren’t used to having their movement restricted. Some experts believe that cabin fever is a syndrome, while others feel that it is linked to mental health disorders, such as anxiety and claustrophobia. The feeling of cabin fever can also be exacerbated by other forms of stress and worry, which are certain to be present during this period of global panic and uncertainty.
If you notice that you are feeling lethargic, restless, or depressed, a great solution for calming the cabin fever is to exercise your mind. Here are some top tips for keeping mentally stimulated over the course of the next few weeks and beyond.
Sign up to take an online course
If you, like millions of others around the world, are concerned about your job security as a result of the far-reaching economic effects of Covid-19, then you can kill two birds with one stone by signing up to study online at an online university. Not only will you have plenty of work and purpose to keep your mind occupied, but you will also be effectively adding a new skill to your resume.
New skills and qualifications can make you a lot more employable, thus maximizing your chances of holding on to your current job, or finding a new one in the future if need be. ECU Online, Edith Cowan University, is a leading example of a reputable online university offering courses relating to a variety of specializations, such as education and cyber security.
There are countless benefits associated with online learning at institutions such as this. For example, you will have plenty of flexibility, which is excellent news if you have other responsibilities on your plate, like working from home or taking care of your kids. Online learning is also known for being affordable, easily accessible, and environmentally friendly.
Read a book outside
‘Outside’ is the operative word here. Did you know that your brain is triggered to release beneficial hormones when it is exposed to sunlight? The other side of the coin is true as well – your brain releases hormones that can affect your mood negatively if you spend too much time indoors or in darkness.
Serotonin is the main hormone responsible for a happy, calm disposition, and it is this hormone that can plummet quite rapidly when you do not have enough sunshine in your life.
Once your serotonin levels start to dip, your melatonin levels will simultaneously increase. Melatonin is the hormone responsible for helping you fall asleep, and can play a significant role in the depression and lethargy commonly associated with cabin fever.
So, slap on some sunscreen, grab a thought-provoking book and settle down in the sunshine for 20 minutes or so to enjoy a spot of reading. You can then move over to a shady position under a tree for the remainder of your reading session. The more fresh air and nature that you’re exposed to, the more your mood is likely to improve.
Give yourself a mental workout
There are several different brain exercises that you can try to give yourself an adequate mental workout throughout the times of social distancing.
Some of these exercises include:
- Eating with chopsticks: unless you are an expert sushi eater, you probably have to concentrate quite intently to eat using chopsticks. Don’t only eat your sushi or your Chinese food with chopsticks, though. Try your hand at eating your regular meals using these utensils. The focus required will noticeably stimulate your mind, and you’ll be picking up a new skill in the process too.
- Switching hands: by now, your brain is probably so accustomed to using a specific hand to perform various tasks. Why not change it up a bit by switching out your dominant hand with your less dominant hand for a day? For example, if you are usually right-handed, use your left hand to make a cup of tea, to wash dishes, or to brush your teeth. It will feel extremely challenging and tiresome at first, but you may be surprised to discover how quickly you can become ambidextrous if you keep at it. At the very least, your brain will get a mammoth workout.
- Turn your world upside down: yes, really. Luckily, you don’t have to start walking on your hands for this one. All that you have to do is turn certain aspects of your day to day existence the other way around. For example, turn your watch upside down to force your brain to focus more every time you glance at it, or hang your calendar the other way around.
- Close your eyes: close your eyes as you go about your daily tasks and responsibilities (whenever it is safe to do so, of course). You could do it while you vacuum or while you’re taking a shower. By closing your eyes, you force your brain to work differently and concentrate harder. Plus, you also maximize your mindfulness in any given situation which can aid in restoring calm and tranquility. Great news during these times of stress and anxiety.
Try something new
If you have the supplies to hand, a wonderful approach to stimulating the mind is trying something new; preferably something that you, ordinarily, would have never even considered. If you don’t have any supplies available, your new hobby could be something as simple as taking dance lessons on YouTube or asking your yoga-inclined friend to teach you a few poses via Skype.
Finish projects you started in the past
If you’re like most people, there are almost certain to be a number of DIY or personal projects that you started in the past but never quite completed. Now is a great opportunity to resume your efforts and put the work in to ensure that you reach those goals.
Been toying with the idea of color coordinating your wardrobe? Or perhaps you want to rearrange your kitchen cabinets? There has never been a better time to get started. Embrace the opportunity with open arms – both your home and your mind are to be the better for it.
Stay strong and keep your brain fit and healthy. Rest assured that you’ll be out and about again soon enough.