The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused a disruption in daily routines, including shifts in work and home life and uncertainty for the near future.

According to Psychology Today, there are a number of ways that individuals can continue to promote emotional and brain health while developing brain-healthy habits in the process.

Stay physically active
One of the best lifestyles changes that people can engage in for brain and mood enhancement is exercise, according to Psychology Today. Physical activity can improve processing speed, memory, and executive functioning skills, as well as helping grow new brain cells in the process. Additionally, being physically fit can more effectively reduce stress. Many virtual exercise classes are available for free during COVID-19 and exercise equipment at home may be accessible to keep up with your workout routine.

Maintain a structured schedule
With the pandemic causing high rates of unemployment and shifting many jobs to remote work, creating a schedule can add purpose and focus to your day, according to Psychology Today. A way to start this structure is by using the electronic calendar in your phone, using a day planner, or creating a new list each morning with your plans for the day.

Stay mentally engaged
Having more time at home is a chance to try new hobbies or pick up on those that have been put on the back burner, the article noted. Mental activity improves quality of life, reduces stress, and keeps minds sharp. Activities such as reading, doing crossword or jigsaw puzzles, or starting a home improvement project can help distract from the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and promote positive feelings.

Maintain physical, not necessarily social, distancing
Although social distancing is encouraged, it is still important to connect with loved ones. Phone calls, videoconferencing, email, and social media can help maintain connections with others and promote brain functioning. Further, providing direct or indirect social support to others can help those in need and foster a sense of purpose in an uncertain time, according to Psychology Today.

Mobilize your stress management strategies
The COVID-19 pandemic is a great time to reflect on what has worked for you in the past to reduce stress and tension while considering new strategies. Options such as meditation, tai chi, breathing techniques, or exercise can help boost positive emotion and facilitate brain health, the article noted. 

Eat as well as possible
A balanced diet keeps the brain active and keeps the immune system healthy. Foods such as fruits and vegetables, fish, beans, nuts, and olive oil promote health and boost cognitive functioning, making these foods a priority to consume during the day, according to Psychology Today.

Try to get more sleep
The change in daily routines can also affect sleep schedules, with too little or too much sleep being problematic for emotional and cognitive skills, according to the article. Keeping up with a consistent sleep schedule and wake-up time can make it easier to get back to your regular sleep/wake interval pre-pandemic.

REFERENCE
Randolph, John. 7 ways to promote brain health during a pandemic. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-healthy-engaged-brain/202005/7-ways-promote-brain-health-during-pandemic. Published May 6, 2020. Accessed June 5, 2020.