These days, it might feel like you’re constantly spiraling down the hole of the COVID-19 madness.
With a global pandemic like this, people are protecting and maintaining their physical health while the economy seems to start crumbling. The world is transfixed on news and guidelines on how to beat the virus so everyone can return to our “normal” lives.
However, more often than not, we keep on shoving away and forgetting about an extremely important thing we’ve been constantly battling. A seemingly invisible fight inside our heads that not everyone notices.
The crisis has put people’s mental well-being in all walks of life more vulnerable and at risk than ever.
Mental Health Awareness Amid COVID-19
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. And I believe that there’s no more perfect time than today to break the silence and address the impact of the coronavirus crisis to everyone’s mental health.
We’re facing a mixture of financial and economic stress, fear of the unknown, increased feeling of isolation and loneliness, anxiety towards the uncertain future, and even grief for some.
Our lives have been changed in such a short time and it can be very difficult for most of us to transition from everything that’s happening today. Now more than ever, we need to check in and take care of our mental well-being as we try to adjust to this “new” reality.
It’s also the most crucial time to extend our hands (metaphorically) and open up the door (again, metaphorically) to those who need reassurance and guidance. While the numbers of infected cases rise, so are the possible rates of those emotionally suffering in silence.
How To Protect Your Mental Health Today
With that, I’ve listed 8 tips to strengthen mental and emotional stamina during a time like this. I hope this can help you and your loved ones adapt better to what’s happening now and protect your peace amid the situation.
Focus on your breathing a bit more.
Since a pandemic is a rare occurrence, it can be overwhelming to most of us especially that this may be the first time we’re experiencing it. This can naturally trigger anyone’s anxiety. Should you feel helpless and worried, take some time to breathe.
We usually underestimate the importance of focused breathing. But this simple technique can do wonders in clearing your mind as you take a brief pause to all the chaos happening around us. Plus, you can do this wherever you are!
Just close your eyes if it feels comfortable. Inhale deeply through your nose and feel your belly expand. And then exhale through pursed lips and let out a calming whistling sound. Do this for 3 to 5 breaths (or more), and feel your mind and body relax.
Schedule a designated worry time everyday.
I understand that it would be impossible for you to stop worrying even if I tell you one by one all its negative effects. So, what I’d like you to practice instead is to try not to be too engulfed by it. How, you may ask? Schedule it!
Give yourself, say, 30 minutes to an hour a day to worry about whatever you want. Should any other concern come outside that designated time frame, write it down or type in it your phone for the next day’s schedule.
Again, worrying at this time is completely normal. However, spending most of your time doing this can negatively affect your mental health more than you may notice. So, don’t forget to save some for another day!
Allow your emotions to flow.
There’s no point in denying yourself from feeling bad about both major and minor inconveniences that you’re facing due to the pandemic. You may think it is pointless to have a sense of grief for something seemingly unimportant right now.
While cancelling your vacation or wedding may not be as bad as losing someone to the coronavirus, you still deserve to feel it. Dismissing it isn’t going to help at all.
No matter how small it may seem to others, if it’s truly important to you, you owe yourself some time to process it.
Find a platform to let out your feelings.
Do something that you enjoy or find relaxing. If you feel overwhelmed, it’s important to do something that can soothe you and preoccupy your thoughts.
May it be personal rituals like taking long showers and writing in your journal, or maybe physical activities like exercising and doing yoga, it’s important to have some release to your emotions. Just remember that such platforms should all be within the bounds of social distancing.
Complete small tasks each day.
Perhaps one of the main reasons why people feel so anxious right now is due to the uncertainty of the situation. This is why it’s important to have something that makes you regain your sense of control.
Find places in your life that you can do something about. Make decisions for yourself no matter how small. You can start with arranging your closet, trying a new recipe or maybe restoring your garden that you’ve neglected for so long.
Whatever it is, do something that can give you a sense of competency. Trust me, you need it.
Don’t be afraid to reach out.
Just because we have to literally maintain a safe distance to our loved ones, doesn’t mean we have to disconnect from them altogether. Find time to reach out to your friends and family, and spend some (virtual) quality time. Having someone to talk to that may have similar sentiments as you do can be comforting.
If you’re not very comfortable with that idea, you may also take online classes where you still get to interact and do activities with other people. Who knows, you may not just learn a new thing but have a new friend as well!
Limit yourself from watching the news.
As much as we want to be constantly updated with the news, taking in negative information all too often is actually bad for your mental health. It can make you feel more anxious especially that you’re loaded with a lot of information you can’t do something about.
My take? Set yourself some limits to watching or checking the news. Perhaps give yourself 30 minutes in the morning and another 30 in the evening so you still get updated.
Also, beware of fake news. They’re everywhere. Always check from reputable sources to avoid misinformation and unnecessary distress.
Know when you need to seek professional help.
It’s important to know when you can’t handle things on your own anymore. There’s no shame in asking for help if that means saving yourself. Depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses come in many different forms. So, it’s important to check in with yourself from time to time.
A lot of mental health professionals and organizations are accessible through the internet. Should you feel like you need help, never hesitate to reach out to them and be evaluated.
We are all facing uncharted waters today. It’s important that we remain calm and brace ourselves in a time of crisis. Remember that you are not alone in this.
And if you ever feel lost, take some time to read this list again for even just a little bit of direction. Be safe and stay at home!