Amid the epidemiological chaos created by the novel coronavirus, a psychological pandemic, too, has emerged. According to the Crisis Text Line, the mental health impacts of COVID-19 will outlast the virus. Millions across the globe bear the brunt of economic uncertainty, loneliness, and grief. Heightened rates of stress and anxiety are now coupled with escalating rates of depression, harmful substance use, and suicidal behaviors. With strict physical isolation measures in place, we feel emotionally isolated now more than ever. In an attempt to ease your daily distress, here are some ways in which you can improve your mental health during this pandemic:
1. Accept your feelings
Empower yourself to withstand the emotional storm you are facing. Your feelings, struggles, and emotions are valid—don't let anyone else tell you otherwise. The first step towards balancing emotional states begins by acknowledging them. Channel your daily emotions through affirmations, meditation, journaling, or other creative outlets. Look for silver linings, stop telling yourself how you should feel and embrace your current feelings as a rational outcome of the situation you are in.
2. Establish a routine
Keeping in mind the disruptions and uncertainty that is part and parcel of Covid-19, establishing a routine can be a simple yet effective way of restoring structure in your life. This will—in part—allow you to gain control over your life and minimize overwhelming feelings. Research has shown that routines can help better manage stress and anxiety while reinstating productivity and normalcy. Sticking to a new routine will take time and practice, so allow yourself some flexibility in the process and don't shy away from modifications to your schedules.
3. Moderate news intake
As important as it is to stay updated with what is happening in the world around you, it is also easy to fall prey to misinformation. Stick to trustworthy news sources but limit how often you check for updates. Learn to recognize early feelings of anxiety and stress and restrict your news consumption to a predetermined time frame of the day. Remember, it is perfectly acceptable to take breaks from conversations about Covid-19 while prompting conversation on other topics.
4. Stay connected
At a time like this, it is normal to find yourself at different positions on a non-linear spectrum of emotions. Don't be afraid to reach out to friends and family, possibly even neighbours, in an attempt to maintain social connections. Social support is not bound by the norms of physical distancing, so seize this opportunity to cope with stress and re-establish any lost connections.
5. Take a step back
Finally, know when to let go. Far too often, we spend endless amounts of time searching for unimaginable answers, putting ourselves in situations beyond our control. Being absorbed by the fear of what might happen next is inevitable, but shifting focus to tangible problems with realistic solutions is a step forward in the right direction. Engage in healthy behaviors that reduce your risk and proactively plan for what you can.
Written by Kainaz Patravala
I think this is an amazing and very helpful article in understanding the ways this pandemic can affect us and how we can help ourselves deal with it. I would love to read more articles like this!