Maintaining Mental Wellbeing in the middle of a Global Pandemic
As confirmed cases of the number of persons infected with COVID-19 keep rising, people all over the world are making the choice to stay at home and practice social distancing. Medical experts all over the world have stressed the importance of doing so as it is necessary to stop the coronavirus spread. However, staying isolated for long periods of time can have an adverse impact on people’s mental wellbeing.
A recent study featured in the journal The Lancet, emphasizes that the psychological impact of self-isolation or quarantine may be great, resulting in a range of mental health issues from anxiety, anger and sleep disturbances to depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Separate studies conducted during SARS, a previous outbreak that took place in 2003, found quarantined patients between 10% and 29% suffered PTSD.
The report found that mental health concerns could be triggered further by stressors associated with quarantine, for instance, infection fears, inadequate supplies, lack of information, frustration, boredom, financial loss, etc. can make things worse.
As all of us grapple with the possibility of extended periods of isolation when practicing several weeks of quarantine or social distancing, it is important to keep in mind that we will need to establish our own ways of maintaining wellbeing and preserving our mental health at home.
Here’s a compiled list of things to keep in mind for your mental health during this period of crisis.
● Establish and maintain a routine — Get out of bed at a set time every day, take a shower and make a to-do of all the things you want to complete during the day to create a sense of normalcy. If you’re working from home, doing so will most definitely increase your productivity and put you in the mood to get tasks done!
● Change your environment — Make sure to organize tasks in a way that allows you to break up your day for different activities and, whenever possible, change your environment for different tasks. You should also try stepping out in the balcony once in a while to get some fresh air.
● Eat well and stay active — Eat healthily, maintain a healthy sleep cycle and exercise daily. You could do indoor workout exercises, stretch and practice meditation to help maintain personal wellness.
● Reach out to others around you— Make the most of technology and stay in touch with colleagues, friends, and family through phone calls, texts, and social media.
● Fight fear with facts— Stay informed about the situation by referring to reliable sources like the World Health Organization, but try to limit your news and social media intake to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
● Stay mentally active — Make the most of catching up on movies you’ve always wanted to watch or TV series, reading and exploring projects you have been putting off to beat boredom and stay mentally stimulated.
● Focus on the positives — Amplify good news stories about people recovering all over the world. This is not false optimism, but a realistic outlook that will help you get through for the next few weeks of your life.
● Seek comfort in creating art - In times of crisis, it makes sense to turn to the joy of creating art just for the sake of it! If you haven’t lifted a paintbrush in years, this could be your chance to let your creativity flow. Don’t worry about the end product and make sure you’re doing it just for yourself and not necessarily to master a skill. And have fun while you’re at it!
Most importantly, remember to take it one day at a time!
Without a doubt, many of us are feeling anxious as we navigate the uncertainty of the COVID-19 outbreak and how things will unfold over the next few weeks. We may even fast forward into a dystopian future or play out the worst-case scenarios in our heads. The challenge is to navigate through these difficult times while keeping the negative thoughts at bay. So, try not to project too far into the future and remember that these are temporary measures and you are not alone!