As the COVID-19 lockdown heads into its third month, you’ve probably finished watching Tiger King, you’ve exhausted your reading list, and you’re getting sick of living within the four walls of an apartment.
Living in a high-density community during a time of COVID-19 physical distancing measures offers unique challenges. Many have little private green space and may share elevators or laundry facilities, adding stress about the spread of the virus. The societal pressure to remain productive can become another source of stress. It is more important than ever to take care of our mental health. Here are some tips on staying healthy from an expert and two residents of the core.
Dr. Karen Lee – Venture outside safely
Dr. Karen Lee is a University of Alberta professor and author of Fit Cities, whose work has focused on how to improve health in large urban populations. Lee’s recommendation? Get outside, but do so responsibly. “One of the ways to stay healthy is to go out into the public spaces that have enough space for us to socially distance,” said Lee. “For example, in Oliver, we have Railtown Park with the multi-use trails.”
Although this strategy may seem obvious, some are understandably hesitant to leave the house. There are other healthy coping methods that don’t require leaving home.
Hope Docking – Engage in a virtual social life
Hope Docking, a downtown resident, has found solace by staying socially active through virtual means. “I’ve begun playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends,” said Docking. “It takes some pushing to get everyone to choose a time but it’s really helped me get some sort of social time in.” Being able to maintain a healthy social structure may make the lockdown bearable, or even pleasant. Docking also has some external motivation: “There is also a magpie building a nest outside my window so I have to check in on her every day.”
Kali Wells – Go easy on yourself
Kali Wells, an Oliver resident, has adapted to quarantine in high density through a modified version of her normal health routine. “’I’ve been working out, doing so much yoga at home, and meditating,” said Wells. A mental health strategy that Wells said has helped is self-forgiveness. “When you’re living a life where you are constantly going, there’s always so much stimulus in your life,” said Wells. “When there is so little stimulating you in that way, when the new normal is to wake up and move to the couch, it can be difficult. But I think I’ve been doing a pretty good job of it.”
Be good to yourself, stay mentally healthy and physically active, and remember: physical isolation does not have to mean social isolation.