3 Helpful Ways To Boost Mental Health During Quarantine

Byron F. Harper III, MD
By Byron F. Harper III, MD
April 9, 2020

The COVID-19 coronavirus is disrupting almost every aspect of our lives. A level of uncertainty and isolation has become prevalent with social distancing and quarantine measures, which can greatly impact our mental health. This is why it is essential to take care of yourself not only physically, but also mentally during this pandemic.

I'm encouraging my patients and friends to stay positive by participating in activities that boost their mood and keep their minds engaged more than ever. Here are three activities I recommend incorporating into your new routine.

1. Solve Puzzles 

Puzzles are a fun way to spend long periods of time and an activity our loved ones can get involved with. They also challenge our brains because we exercise valuable cognitive skills such as critical thinking, spatial reasoning, and creativity when we solve them. Studies have shown that people over 50 years of age who are active and complete puzzles on a daily basis actually lower their chances of developing Alzheimer's disease, memory loss, and dementia. Make sure to set aside time, whether it is in the morning, mid-day, or evening, to work on a new or favorite type of puzzle. Jig-saw puzzles, crossword puzzles, sudoku, word problems, and riddles are all great options.  

2. Go on a Free Virtual Tour & See a Broadway Show 
It is important we use this time to do things we wouldn't normally get to do. One thing I highly suggest is taking advantage of the free virtual tours that famous museums and zoos from around the world are offering online right now. GoodHousekeeping has a list of museums offering virtual tours that you can easily access. These tours enable us to learn something new and cross items off our bucket list without leaving our homes. If you enjoy Broadway shows, several of them are accessible for free on PBA, BroadwayHD, and YouTube for a limited time.

Your mind and emotions will benefit from the dopamine and endorphins released by your brain when you watch your tour or show. These are pleasure hormones and chemicals that instantly increase your mood and energy levels and help fight negative moods.

3. Connect with Loved Ones 
Experts have found that strong relationships play a crucial role in a person's happiness. We don't have to be isolated from people just because we're forced to stay at home right now. Cellphones and technology platforms like Facebook Messenger, Facetime, Zoom, or Google DUO are available to help us connect with the people we care about.

We can even use the good, old-fashioned snail mail. Take a moment to write a card, email, or text to someone each day. The note can be a simple "hello", an encouraging word, or a joke. Be intentional about creating a list of family members or friends you want to talk with and schedule a phone or video call with them. People are craving connection right now and will likely be thrilled to hear from you.

Remember, the key to thriving at home during this COVID-19 crisis is to make an effort to stay active and choose a positive mindset. Keep a gratitude journal and immerse yourself in activities that bring you joy and make you feel productive. The COVID-19 pandemic and shelter-in-place orders will not last forever, so stay home, stay hopeful, and stay healthy!

About the Physician
Byron F. Harper III, MD

Next to your family and your faith, your health is your greatest treasure, your greatest possession. To be your personal physician, your partner in healthcare, is an honor and a privilege that humbles me but also stirs in me a passion to provide you with the ideal environment for ideal health. This environment includes a personalized health care plan focused on allowing you to reach your goals and your dreams by tailoring wellness, prevention, and primary care specifically to you and your needs! Through my MDVIP-affiliated practice, you and I will use an approach that not only values the patient-physician relationship but establishes an even stronger bond, the patient-physician partnership. In a relaxed and unhurried environment, we will take whatever time is necessary to make sure that there is a mutual understanding between us so that you're confident that I understand your concerns and needs at each visit. I am able to customize a plan of education, nutrition, and wellness that not only includes treatment and therapy but also prioritizes prevention. My MDVIP-affiliated practice offers services, including comprehensive, advanced health screenings and diagnostic tests, that go far beyond those found in concierge medicine practices.

Board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, I am a second-generation internal medicine physician who has deep roots and understanding in the culture and uniqueness of the communities and families of both Fayette and Coweta Counties, communities that I grew up in. I know how important family, friendship and laughter can be to establish a warm and welcoming environment and my staff and I will always strive to make you feel like family. Through 30 years of private practice in the South Atlanta region, I have developed special interests and experience in cardiovascular health, diabetes, hypertension, preventive care and nutrition. I have served as the Medical Director for Southwest Christian Care, a non-profit hospice facility in south Fulton County for over 25 years. I also have privileges at Piedmont Fayette Hospital.

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