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In this video, Chelsea walks us through the worst stay-at-home habits we're all falling into these days, and why they're bad for your mental health. Click here for tickets to TFD's next digital workshop, all about assembling your financial first aid kit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/how-to-build-your-financial-first-aid-kit-at-any-income-tickets-115999051285?aff=YTComments

Based on an article by Gina Vaynshteyn: https://thefinancialdiet.com/8-bad-covid-habits-that-are-destroying-your-mental-health/

Watch more of The Financial Diet hosted by Chelsea Fagan here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLD30V46E07RR99cC0gCjKUbt-BKoDUcnc The Financial Diet site: http://www.thefinancialdiet.com

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Hello, everyone. It's Chelsea. And before we get into this week's video, I wanted to let you guys know about an exciting new thing we're doing at TFD.

It's called the Studio at TFD. And it is a series of digital workshops around all sorts of topics, from money management to mental health to organization to entrepreneurship and everything in between. We've got several amazing events coming up.

And you can find out more about all of them at thefinancialdiet.com/studio. See you guys there. Hey, guys.

It's Chelsea from The Financial Diet. And this week's video is sponsored by Fidelity Investments. And this week, I wanted to talk to you guys about the mental habits and routines that you might be getting yourself into now as a result of COVID that you don't even necessarily realize you're doing.

Obviously, this pandemic has upended so many elements of our day-to-day lives and made things that used to feel totally normal feel completely unmanageable. There are some of us who might have lost our jobs temporarily or permanently. Some of us may be suddenly working from home.

Some of us may be working in our regular jobs but in totally different conditions. If we're parents, we're suddenly with our children 24/7. If we're students, we have no idea what's happening with our schooling in the fall.

Basically, we are existing at a level of uncertainty that most of us have never really experienced. And having to lose that sort of mid-term horizon in our thinking can be very destructive to mental health. Yes, we can still plan for what we're going to do today or even the next few days.

And we may be able to have a sense that life will resume some kind of normalcy within a few years. But that middle term, what's happening six months from now, maybe even a year from now, is so blurry to us right now that it can insidiously affect how we do almost everything and disrupt that important feeling of stability and normalcy and predictability. We all love to feel that we have a level of control over our lives and are able to plan for things, especially if you're the kind of person who watches TFD.

So having that taken from us can truly disrupt our mental health. And all of the changes in our day-to-day lives, not the least of which being that most of us have seen our social activity drop by about 90% at least, means that we're spending more time than ever just with ourselves in our homes feeling bad, which can lead to a ton of bad habits. So it's important to recognize them.

Give yourself permission to feel them and understand them and not beat yourself up for having gotten into them but then to start working to get out of them. So without further ado, 8 bad COVID habits that are destroying your mental health. Number one, feeling ashamed about not being productive enough.

I recently did a whole video on how frustrated I've been with the discourse around how we're spending quarantine and what we should be expecting of ourselves during that time. It can be easy for people to brag about learning a new language or starting a new hobby or accomplishing something they've been wanting to do for a while. And it can make us feel that if we're not able to do those things, we're somehow not spending our quarantine right.

But in a life-changing, paradigm-shifting global pandemic, our focus should not be on how we can come out of this with a better LinkedIn page. It should be how we can come out of this as intact people who feel at peace with their lives. There are some people right now who are struggling to get out of bed every day and put on normal people clothes because what the hell is the point anymore?

And that's also totally valid. And making sure that you're recalibrating your expectations for yourself with what is feasible for you right now is incredibly important, more so than ever. Ultimately, what is so important in this time is remembering that what you are able to do to get by is going to have to be OK for now.

And if you're constantly comparing yourself against a more idealized version of how you should be in quarantine, you are almost guaranteed to feel perpetually disappointed in yourself and therefore have a harder time handling the day-to-day reality of quarantine or at minimum increased social distancing. Number two is refreshing your news feed every 10 minutes. Now if you follow me on social media, you've probably noticed that since quarantine began, I have gone on and off my social platforms a few times, taking a week off here, a week off there.

And yes, in some ways, I feel a little disappointed that I haven't been able to do a clean break for a long period of time, but I have an addiction. And it can be a pretty complicated balance to find. Because, on the one hand, we all know that having social media constantly beamed into our eyes is not really good for our brains even in normal circumstances.

But at the same time, most of us are more cut off than we've ever been from our actual social networks. We can't see our friends the way we used to. There are many family members we might not be able to see.

We can't travel the way we used to. So remaining connected with people virtually is more important than ever. And like it or not, social media is a pretty easy way to go about that.

But that being said, during a time when it can feel like you have a responsibility to be 100% informed all the time because something really big and scary is happening that you need to know about, the line between keeping yourself informed and doom scrolling slash catastrophizing becomes incredibly blurry. In order to help yourself find that balance, though, I think there are a few key things to remember. One, make sure that just because you're following a certain number of accounts on a given social media feed, you don't necessarily have to see all of those people at the same time.

For example, on Twitter, you can curate lists of different accounts and click between different lists at different times to get a different feed. You can have one that's just real life friends, one that's news slash experts, one that's funny meme accounts. You can have a little bit of everything and don't need it all jumbled in together at the same time so that every time you open, you're getting 100% of what you follow.

Number two, you can make sure that when it comes to getting news, things that are journalistic in nature, you are following experts. Part of the thing that's so infuriating about social media during this time is suddenly everyone is a scientist. What's going on? why is my uncle here like popping off about whether masks actually protect you from COVID or not?

Excuse me, sir. You're an accountant. Anyway, point being a lot of people now are suddenly throwing their opinion into the mix when not only are they often either not really that informed or poorly informed, but they also really have no business weighing on this topic in the first place because they're not someone for whom that's an area of expertise.

Filtering out the people who are just getting off their COVID hot takes is incredibly important. But lastly, number three, giving yourself specific times at which you can use these apps-- and there are plenty of web browser extensions and apps that you can add to your phone that will help you regulate the time that you're on social media. Giving yourself those time windows helps ensure that you're not just constantly being bathed in all of this content.

There's a time to check in and a time to check out. And keeping a tight lock on both of those things will prevent you from feeling like you're drowning in social media. Number three is drinking more than you normally would.

So obviously, we haven't been in the pandemic for very long. But there is now some anecdotal research starting to come out about people drinking more in quarantine slash during COVID than they were before. And on some level, that makes sense.

Not only are people really stressed the hell out all the time. But they're also just sitting at home 99% of the time with very little to do. And while I'm sure that everyone has probably gone through a few different coping mechanisms during that time that were probably not good for them, whether that's eating not very well, keeping weird sleep hours, watching way too much television, drinking too much, whatever it might have been, I think we've now hopefully reached a time where, yes, things are still bad.

They're not like they were before. But we're not dealing with the total shock of our lives being upended overnight the way we were in March. We are starting to find hopefully a little bit more normalcy and being able to adjust to what our lives look like, which means that even if you were, for example, relying too much on alcohol as a crutch, now is the time to start really ratcheting that back.

Now everyone has a different definition of what is an appropriate amount of alcohol consumption. And I am not the alcohol police. I'm not here to tell you what is or isn't good.

But one good litmus test to use when it comes to the relationship that alcohol has in your life is how do you view alcohol? Is it a reward for yourself when you've done something good? Is it a crutch for yourself when you're feeling some way emotionally that you don't know how to deal with?

Is it essentially being used as a tool to have some sense of control over your own emotions or brain? That's the area where it starts to be a bit of a questionable relationship. You should not be in a situation where any large emotion negative or positive is immediately accompanied by alcohol, especially because right now, we're all in a time where we're probably feeling a lot of emotions, many of which we're not used to.

I think it's probably healthiest if you want to make a comparison in your life to treating alcohol the same way you would treat like a really indulgent dessert. Now I say that, but I also eat sheet cake pretty frequently. So maybe that's not the best comparison for me.

But long story short, it's like a food that you wouldn't necessarily feel should fit into your everyday diet because you know objectively it's not overly great for your body. But it also is enjoyable in its own way and should have its place. But do be conscious about the role that it's playing in your life, what it means, why you do it, how frequently you do it, and whether or not you feel that you need it.

Many of us may be relying on things like this more than we did pre-COVID, but that doesn't mean that pattern has to continue. Number four is isolating yourself completely. Now everyone is probably in the midst of finding an awkward, delicate balance between being socially responsible with regards to transmission of COVID and seeing friends and family that we love.

Technically, when it comes to what would be most epidemiologically responsible, we would all be isolating 100%, but obviously that's not realistic. Now depending on your individual circumstance, you may be in a place where even seeing friends in a park for the afternoon feels like too much of a high risk situation for you, and that's OK. But that doesn't mean you have to cut yourself off from them.

Making sure that frequent contact with your friends, whether it's a phone call or one of those cursed Zoom happy hours that we've all been having, making sure that you are present in the people's lives that you love, and they are present in yours, is incredibly important. And listen. Did I just refer to Zoom happy hours as cursed?

Yeah, because honestly I'm sick of Zooms. And I'm sure you guys are sick of Zooms. But what's the alternative for a lot of us?

Yes, there are a few friends and family that I see now socially in responsible conditions. But there are a lot of people that I can't see and probably won't see for a really long time because I'm not able to travel the way I was. And what are my options there?

So while I would of course prefer a real meetup over a Zoom meetup, we have to make do with what we have. And it can be really easy to feel like if you're not living the social life you would ideally want to be living that you may as well just cut it all off and isolate yourself and go deeper and deeper into your social isolation spiral. But that has incredibly dangerous effects.

Whatever other bad mental health habits you may be leaning into right now, being totally isolated and having no social accountability or connection is likely to make them spiral even further. We need people more than ever right now. And whether that's seeing them in a park or in a backyard or over Zoom, we have to make time for it.

Number five is throwing structure completely out the window. Now one of the things I mentioned earlier that you may be leaning into as a coping mechanism that isn't so healthy during this time is having a really upended schedule. If you may have lost your job, or you are now working totally different hours or limited hours, you could find yourself in a situation where you're staying up really late, sleeping way too much, not sleeping enough, watching TV all the time, eating at strange hours, just generally keeping very awkward hours that aren't necessarily in tune with what your body would most want.

It's hard to feel the motivation to keep a structure. Even something as simple as your meal times or exercise routines or cleaning schedules can feel like an overwhelming burden in a time where you're just trying to get by each day. But it's important to remember that those very structures are what often enable us to get by in the best possible way.

Our brains crave structure. They crave predictability. And they crave a sense of control over their day-to-day lives.

We already have so much that is out of our control that has been completely upended in such a short amount of time that we want to do everything we can to make sure that the things that are under our control remain under our control. By letting our daily routines, our sleep schedules, our food schedules, our screen time all run completely out of control, we are only compounding the feeling that we have about how much the outside world has completely changed. Number six is not moving at all.

A lot of us are probably slipping into a mentality of like who even cares what my body looks like? I'm never going to see anyone in a bathing suit or be seen in a bathing suit ever again. And honestly, fair enough.

But that is not why we should be working out. You're not working out so your body can look a certain way. You're working out so you can feel a certain way in your body.

Getting regular exercise as well as regular outdoor time enables you to have a much healthier sleep schedule. It keeps your body on a much better internal clock. And it also makes you stronger, have greater physical endurance, feel better in your body on a day-to-day basis, and just generally help combat the overall impacts of having your life so suddenly and wholly upended.

I personally have been one of those people that has found out that when I am working in the comfort of my own home with a small Zoom group of people, I actually work out more than I did before. And I'm inspired to work out at random moments now and feel excited and look forward to it because it's one of the few things I can do that feels like pretty regular and structure that isn't just work and eating. And that doesn't necessarily have to be your case.

But feeling like you can totally give up on the idea of physical activity because you've given up on most of your social activity is only going to make you feel way worse about the latter. Number seven is engaging with the comments. Now whether it's people on Twitter or under a YouTube video or on your Facebook, engaging with people who are like truthers about COVID or people who think that masks are for sissies or people who are spewing toxic, bigoted rhetoric right now, every moment that we give of ourselves, a moment of attention, a moment of energy, a moment of focus is a precious moment now more so than ever.

Spending time arguing with these people or being angry at them or feeling like you need to convince them is just a drain on you. And 99% of the time, these people don't want to be convinced. They just want to be heard and get their feelings out there.

And yes, it can be utterly maddening to argue about things that are either true or false such as the fact that masks are effective when properly used in helping to reduce the spread of respiratory illness. But ultimately, if one is going to look at that verifiable fact and say, no, don't think so, what the hell are you going to do to change their mind? But more importantly, no one deserves your time just because they're spewing an ignorant opinion.

Your time, energy, and focus are precious. And you don't need to be giving any of it to the trolls right now. Lastly, number eight is panic retail shopping.

Now listen. If you still have your income and basically nothing to do ever, ever, there can be a huge allure in online shopping right now. It feels like you're doing something.

It's familiar. It reminds you of your old life. It makes you feel a little bit excited about something for 10 seconds.

You get to refresh the tracking link so you can see when your package is arriving. It's like an experience that gives you a level of endorphins that you're probably not getting very frequently now. And plus, there can be a sense of general panic when you're buying things that might be a little bit more tied to your day-to-day life in a pandemic.

But online shopping as a sort of outlet or moment of personal therapy is incredibly dangerous right now. Because quite frankly, in a time of such economic uncertainty, we all need to be conservative about saving as much cash as we possibly can. The last thing we want to do is be in a position where our emergency funds are depleted at a time when we're entering a serious depression, and we're far from the end of potential future layoffs or downsizing.

At a time like this, cash is simply king. And spending much of it on emotionally unstable online shopping is an enormous mistake. Part of the fun of online shopping-- let's be clear-- is just in filling up your cart and imagining yourself with all these items.

So one hot tip that I highly recommend is before you buy anything in a specific category, challenge yourself to make an inspiration board about the item on a place like Pinterest before you even put the item in your cart. Now once you have the inspiration board all built out, which probably took you a while and used up maybe some of that energy and also gave you the burst of imagination and creativity that's so nice about online shopping, let the inspiration board sit for 24 hours. And if you come back to that inspiration board in 24 hours and decide that you still want the item, go ahead and buy it.

But don't just allow yourself to click through and buy your cart because you can't think of anything better to do. As I mentioned, this video is sponsored by Fidelity Investments. They are here to help you reach your savings goals.

And if you're looking for an easy way to finally start investing what you save, check out Fidelity. So as always, guys, thank you for watching. And don't forget to hit the Subscribe button and to come back every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday for new and awesome videos.

Goodbye.