9 (free) ways to care for your mental health during crises
Written by Chao Wang
Edited by J Cameron
This isn’t our first pandemic, and it sure won’t be our last. Two days after seeing my boyfriend’s band play at a packed karaoke club in Berlin, we, along with most of the world, were thrown into a lockdown. The physical impacts of quarantine have been clear: many people have lost jobs, many businesses have shuttered, and virtually all travel plans have been suspended. Amid this, it’s easy to forget the impact this crisis is having on our mental health.
Because this might be a tough time financially, we’ve curated a list of nine free activities to structure your day, stretch your creativity, and feed your motivation. Enjoy these gems and care for your mental health!
1. Routine, baby!
Whether you’re studying, working from home, or seeking employment, it’s beneficial to your mental health to maintain continuity from your pre-pandemic structure. Like it or not, routines have a way of bringing order to your life, which in turn positively impacts your mental health.
Get out of bed, brush your teeth, and have breakfast on your balcony or porch if you can. To start your day off on the right foot, make a to-do list and set a few realistic goals. Digital calendars are your friend here — pick one and make it your loyal assistant.
2. Train your brain
It’s likely you’re finding yourself with a little more time on your hands than usual. How should you keep your mind occupied? Don’t panic, we’ve got some tips!
If you are feeling restless or anxious, meditation might be a good solution. If you’ve tried some traditional meditation apps and you haven’t found one you like, Waking Up might be a good fit, as it’s not your typical meditation app. Waking Up not only guides you through the journey of mindfulness, but it also provides you with theories behind meditation. If you cannot afford a subscription when your free trial runs out, you can get a free account by sending them a direct email.
If you aren’t sure meditation is for you, how about playing some fun games to relax and train your brain? The Peak is an app with 40+ games and a daily brain-training plan; it’s dedicated to improving your problem solving, memory, focus, language, and mental math skills.
3. Make art
Keeping your hands busy and dirty is another strategy to combat stress and improve your sense of well-being. There’s a plethora of resources available to draw you in with exercises that utilize your hands and imagination. Don’t forget to share your creations with your friends!
Our top choices include:
- Acrylic painting, a YouTube channel offering hands-on tutorials of painting with acrylics;
- Wow, Art, a learning tool which teaches those with or without painting skills to paint from scratch using household item;
- Calligraphy By Mukta, a YouTube channel full of satisfying calligraphy and watercolour art tutorials; and
- MINJUKIM at Home, where you can download colouring sheets created by the beloved fashion designer Minju Kim.
Don’t forget the rest of your body! Get up from your couch and shake the stress away.
While many gyms are closed right now, there are fortunately tons of exercises appropriate for home workouts. Here are some channels we really like:
- Yoga with Adriene offers a cozy, relaxing vibe for yoga lovers. Join Adriene and her sweet dog Benji for daily home yoga practices!
- Blogilates offers virtual Pilates classes with certified fitness instructor Cassey Ho.
- Pamela Reif is a German Internet celebrity who shares quick, effective, and equipment-free workouts to ensure your muscles stay active and healthy.
- MadFit hosts real-time, apartment-friendly workouts.
- POPSUGAR Fitness offers dance lovers home cardio workouts with celebrity trainers.
5. Whip up something yummy
There’s no better feeling than sitting down to a home-cooked meal. Make yourself some phenomenal food tonight with these channels!
- Cooking with Katie is a good fit for you if you’d like to bake something with recipes from a range of cultures and cuisines.
- Bon Appétit shows you how pro chefs and gourmets make food in their own kitchen.
6. Watch travel vlogs
Although your own travel plans have likely been postponed, you can still watch travel vlogs as inspiration for your next adventure.
Follow an Australian couple’s journey around the world on Flying The Nest.
7. Read stories
While days spent in quarantine are often uneventful, you’re guaranteed an adventure when you pick up a book or listen to a storyteller. Did you know that some theorize the most significant difference between humans and other animals is that humans gossip? Outlandish, maybe, but who doesn’t love a good story?
If you’re interested in learning more about topics like the AIDS crisis or the USA’s most prolific killer, we’d like to introduce you to Georgia Marie, a mesmerizing storyteller.
8. Speak up
The act of protesting can be powerful for your mental health. It’s easy to feel helpless and overwhelmed when we’re isolated from our communities; by getting out and using our voice to unite under a common purpose, we have the chance to regain a sense of our identity.
9. Stay connected
Last but not least, friends and activities are integral to our mental health. We recommend two ways you can find and maintain connections:
- Connect with people through online events on Eventbrite.
- Find a tandem partner. Tandem language learning is an excellent way to connect with like-minded people and keep yourself motivated. A tandem partner, a native speaker of your target language who’s learning your native language, is one of the best ways to deepen your additional language skills.
Facebook groups are a great place to find a language-learning partner. It doesn’t need to stop at language learning, either. Who knows, maybe your tandem will want to learn a skill together or work out.
We hope you have found these tips helpful during this challenging time! Do you have any tricks up your sleeve for keeping your mental health in check? Share your strategies with us!
About the Writer
Chao Wang, made in China and educated in Berlin, is a writing enthusiast with a great passion for food, fashion and culture. She just celebrated one month as a Creative Content Writer with FightPandemics! Follow us to get more of Chao.