The social isolation restrictions that have been in place due to COVID-19 have been hard on everyone, especially those who are living alone or who are separated from close family. A homeshare arrangement can be a real advantage during this time because living with a housemate combats loneliness and isolation, which can strengthen mental wellness. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it's a great time to discuss how you and your homeshare partner can support each other's mental wellness during the pandemic.
1. Set Clear Boundaries
While homesharing is a great way to combat loneliness, you are not responsible for the mental health of your housemate. It's important to respect each other's need for mental and physical space during this stressful time. Take the time to have an open conversation about each other's needs, define what physical and mental space looks like for each of you, and then maintain and respect those boundaries.
2. Feelings of Anxiety are Normal
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, it's normal to feel anxious during such an unprecedented time of uncertainty.
"Try not to avoid, ignore or suppress anxious thoughts. Instead, be aware of your anxiety and accept that you’re feeling anxious in this situation," their website suggests. "Try to keep things in perspective; notice and challenge your thoughts that may be extreme or unhelpful."
3. Take Care of Yourself
Self-care is always important, but even more so now. Continue your regular routine of self-care, and remember to:
· Get enough sleep
· Eat well
· Exercise regularly
· Engage in enjoyable activities
· Find ways to stay social and remain connected with friends and family.
4. Monitor Your News Intake
It's important to continue to watch the news to stay up-to-date on new developments, but too much news can become overwhelming and stress you out. Be careful to follow reliable news sources and avoid misinformation.
5. Focus on What You Can Control
It's true that there's a lot to worry about at the moment, but a healthy approach to the anxiety caused by the pandemic is to focus on what you can control, like staying home as much as possible, washing your hands regularly, etc.
6. Find the Silver Lining
Occasional feelings of sadness and depression during this time are normal, especially when you're unable to do the things that bring you joy. Interrupt those thoughts by focusing on what is going right for you, and consider what you're grateful for (like your health, a roof over your head), etc.
Your self-care routine is a great way to protect yourself against depression and anxiety, but do watch out for symptoms and if those symptoms are interfering with your daily activities, causing suicidal thoughts, or otherwise causing significant stress to yourself or those around you then you should seek help immediately. Make an appointment with your family doctor, or access one of your local mental health organizations for support.