It’s a frightening time. We’re in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, with many places at least partially shut down, others struggling to reopen safely. Some of us are in areas where the coronavirus infection rates are getting worse. Others are bracing for what may come next. And all of us are watching the headlines and wondering, “When is this going to end?”For many people, the uncertainty surrounding coronavirus is the hardest thing to handle. We still don’t know exactly how we’ll be impacted, how long this will last, or how bad things might get. We can feel afraid of how the future has changed now that an important person in our lives is gone. We can feel afraid of more loss, worrying that we might lose more loved ones. We can worry about our health, concerned that we may get sick or die soon, too. And that makes it all too easy to catastrophize and spiral out into overwhelming dread and panic. Panic attacks have taken on an additional layer of upset.
Mental health is important because it can affect every aspect of your life. This includes your job, marriage, relationship with family and others, and your general well-being. When you are experiencing mental health issues, it may affect your everyday routine and also impact your physical health.
The covid-19 pandemic has had a major effect on our lives. Many of us focus on challenges that can be stressful, overwhelming, and cause strong emotions in adults and children. We may experience an increased feeling of anxiety, powerlessness, impatience, irritability, and frustration. This period of heightened stress can dramatically affect your mental health.
WAYS TO IMPROVE MENTAL HEALTH:
1. Stay Active:
Exercise is really good for both our physical and mental well-being. Studies have shown that meditation relaxes is both your body and mind. Studies show that meditation:
a. can help relieve stress.
b. give you tools to manage stress.
c. reduces negative emotions or attitudes.
d. nourishes creativity.
e. helps you to be more patient.
f. allows you to focus on the present.
You may use the suggested exercise below as inspiration to be active every day: dancing, playing with children, and performing domestic chores such as cleaning and gardening are other means to stay active at home.
i) Walk – Even in small spaces, walking around or walking on the spot can help you remain active. During the quarantine period, you can walk on the balcony or rooftop of your house.
- Breath Focus: In this technique, you take long, slow, deep breaths (also known as abdominal or belly breathing).
- Body scan: After a few minutes of deep breathing, you focus on one part of the body or group of muscles at a time and mentally releasing any physical tension you feel there. It can help boost your awareness of the mind-body connection.
- Mindfulness meditation: This practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing, and bringing your mind’s attention to the present moment without drifting your concern about the past or future.
ii) Relax – Meditation and deep breathing help you remain calm. A few examples of relaxation techniques are available below for inspiration –
iii) Also, you can try something new to be active –
- Try barre exercise, line dancing, cardio funk, or HIIT (high-intensity interval training).
- Try microwave exercise (short bursts movement) like countertop push-ups while you are waiting for the kettle to boil or toast to pop up.
2. Take a break from the news:
Of course, it’s important to stay informed, but sometimes the constant streaming of news stories can be too much. After a while, they can be extremely upsetting, and watching the 24-hour news cycle can create a lot of anxiety.
After a certain point, it can be more upsetting than informational. Make sure the information you do get is from reputable and non-sensationalist sources. And evaluate how much is helpful for you to read in a day and aim to stick to that limit. Try to avoid excessive exposure to media coverage. Constant monitoring of news updates and social media feeds about COVID-19 can intensify feelings of worry and distress. Instead, schedule time to watch something fun. Maybe there’s a movie you’ve always wanted to see on Netflix. Maybe you want to revisit a funny movie you have on DVD. Give your mind a break and let it have a chance to “have fun” through more uplifting entertainment.
3. Take care of your body:
Physical and mental health are closely intertwined. To help protect your mental health you should also safeguard your Physical health.
a. W.H.O. recommends drinking water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages.
b. limited or avoid alcoholic beverages for adults and strictly avoid these in young people and pregnant and breastfeeding women or for other health reasons.
c. ensure plenty of fruits and vegetables and limit the intake of salt sugar and fats.
d. prefer whole grains rather than refined food.
e. getting enough sleep.
f. taking medication as prescribed.
Selfcare is awake of the coronavirus outbreak includes focusing on things you can control (like having good hygiene) instead of those you cannot (stopping the virus). Where possible maintain your daily routine and normal activities. Consider creating a daily routine that prioritizes your well-being and positive mental health.
4. Stay connected with your loved ones:
Living in this virtual time makes connecting with your loved ones easier than ever. Whether it’s a phone call or video call talking to some people you love can bring comfort and joy despite the physical distance between you.
To overcome mental health issues, it is advisable to spend quality time with people who are near and dear to you. Play indoor games, watching tv together, taking care of your family can also be good stress reliever.
Everyone processes their feelings differently. For example, some children are going to make art, some are going to talk to their friends and use their shared sadness as a way to feel connected in a time when they can’t be together in person.
Ask them how they are feeling and share your own experience if you feel safe to do so. You may find it therapeutic to reconnect with your old friends or relatives you may have lost touch with through the years.
5. Take a time to relax and learn something new:
It is so important for you to set time aside for yourself right now. Be sure to devote some time to unwind and do something you enjoy or have been putting off for months.
a. Look for opportunities to laugh – Laughing helps release endorphins, our bodies’ feel-good hormones.
b. Make a new recipe – Good nutrition is always important, but during stressful times there’s nothing better than a tasty, healthy homemade meal – especially if you made it yourself. You could ask a friend or family member for their favorite recipe and can try to make it. It will help you to reduce stress.
c. Make a music playlist – Music can make us feel so much better. You could make a group playlist and ask your friends to add five of their favorite songs as well.
d. Watch or read something uplifting – Distraction can be a good thing. Watch something that you find uplifting and allow yourself to zone out from what’s going on in the world.
If reading is more your thing, go to your bookshelf and choose an old favorite or something you’ve been meaning to get to for a while, or if you don’t have physical books then e-books, are a great option.
e. Learn something new – Now’s a great time to start learning something new which you planned to learn but you are not able to do due to a shortage of time. Like If you want to learn a new language or drawing or learning a musical instrument then do it now.
It’s important to take a breath and remember that we’re all in this together. As a quote,
“We’re standing far apart now so we can embrace each other later.”
Despite the current situation, maybe you’re able to spend more time with your kids or reading a book you’ve been meaning to get to, or learning how to cook. Still, if you are struggling to cope, there are many ways to get help. Getting support from a mental health professional or someone you trust is also self-care. You could also ask your mental health professional if they could chat over Skype/FaceTime if you’re in self-isolation.