COVID-19 has presented us all with an usual set of challenges. For many of you, that challenge has come in the form of isolation via a restriction of movement or a complete quarantine. Even if you’re not on restricted movement or in quarantine, you may be struggling with the limitations imposed by the shelter-in-place order. Gyms are closed, restaurants are closed, and your social network has been reduced to your barracks neighbors. We know this is a hard time and the Fifth Regiment OSCAR team would like to offer some advise for making the best out of this less than ideal situation.
Here are some things you can do to improve your quality of life and reduce your chances of mental health-related problems associated with isolation:
Establish a routine. Have a regular sleep cycle that is at least somewhat similar to your sleep cycle prior to isolation. Try to get up at the same time each morning and go to sleep around the same time each day. Avoid naps unless you are ill and require the additional rest. You have limited control over your meal times if you life in and/or are restricted to the barracks, but do your best to maintain the same eating schedule you had prior to isolation.
Get some exercise. Your exercise routine will likely look very different now than pre-isolation, especially if you’re currently unable to leave your barracks room. If you are not too ill to participate in physical activity, it’s very important that you continue to engage in some type of movement each day. This will relieve some of the stress of being cooped up while also ensuring your immune system is working at its best and you’re staying in shape for all of those activities you will engage in after your isolation period is over. (See below for some suggested exercise-related resources.)
Get some sunlight. If you’re not restricted to your barracks room, get out and get some fresh air, if only briefly, whenever you can. If you are unable to leave your barracks room at this time, it’s still important that you let some sunlight into your room each day. The sunlight can improve your mood and help regulate your sleep/wake cycle.
Stay connected. If you’re not a “talk on the phone” person, you have a lot of video chat options available now and it’s really important that you stay connected with your loved ones and friends during this time. It not only helps reduce feelings of boredom and loneliness, but it ensures you have healthy relationships to return to once shelter in place and/or your isolation are complete. (See below for some suggested connection-related resources.)
Vary your activities. Videogames/Netflix and pajamas can be healthy medicine, but only in the right dose. Playing video games and binge watching shows and movies all day, every day, is not going to leave you feeling good in the long run. Break up your non-interactive screen time by talking to friends, doing some push-ups, reading a book, drawing or any other engaging activity. (See below for some suggested entertainment-related resources.)
Set goals. Identify ways that you can build toward a better future in your present situation. You may find that you’re saving a lot of money since you can no longer go out to eat or travel – set a savings goal for something important or meaningful to you. You have a lot of time on your hands, but not a lot of options for activities – consider working on your push-ups or planks. You could learn a new skill, start a journal, or study for a qualification or exam. Goals will give you a sense of purpose in the present moment and will help remind you that this situation won’t last forever.
Limit information exposure. Social media and news outlets are pumping us full of information about COVID-19. Overexposure to these sources of information can be overwhelming and unhelpful, especially since it’s difficult to discern which sources are reliable. There is only so much new and reliable information available everyday and you can ensure that you are getting the most trustworthy information possible by relying on your command medical team, the World Health Organization (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/events-as-they-happen) and the Centers for Disease Control (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html).
Don’t compare. It can be easy to feel badly about how we’re managing stressors when social media allows us to see other people’s highlight reel. Your experience does not have to live up to the experience that you see others having during isolation or shelter in place. It’s okay to struggle. It’s okay to be angry, sad, anxious or disappointed. It’s alright if you don’t succeed at maintaining a schedule everyday. Just do your best to feel your healthiest with the resources you have available right now.
Ask for help. Your mental health support team is making themselves as accessible as possible during this time. Just because you’re unable to leave your barracks room doesn’t mean you can’t get help. The following resources are available to you at this time:
For non-medical counseling:
1/5 MFLC, Beth: 760-573-0343
2/4 MFLC, Heather: 760-573-0343
2/5 MFLC, Adrienne: 760-573-0348
3/5 MFLC, Lisa: 760-573-0344
For all other mental health concerns:
Fifth Regiment OSCAR Clinic: 760-763-6058
Fifth Regiment OSCAR Clinic Remote Work: 760-600-9913
Apps/websites for mental wellness
ACT Coach (imagery)
Headspace for mindfulness (good for beginners)
Oprah and Deepak app
Apps/websites for physical wellness/movement
Yoga with Adriene, Yoga with Kassandra on Youtube.com
Apps/websites for connection:
Evil Apples: You Against Humanity
Apps/websites for solo entertainment:
Free Reading: https://archive.org/details/nationalemergencylibrary?&sort=date&page=3
COVID Time Capsule:
Free Online Courses: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/no-cost-on-line-professional-development-courses-for-active-duty-veterans-reservists-and-military-tickets-91049697095?fbclid=IwAR3xt8t1rhqpHYNYHEUaQ3Q0XoP5wUBuBqNsI2zm4x3qekk2ct-NdKR-1p8
Free Photography Classes During April: https://www.nikonevents.com/us/live/nikon-school-online/