In the times of the lockdown, it is important to give our Mental Health as much priority as we are giving to our Physical Health - it is time to put our Self care first.
COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic owing to the disease burden it carries, but what is often forgotten is the paranoia and pandemonium it has brought along with it in terms of a much larger Mental Health Crisis, the shadow of which looms far and wide. In such a scenario, it is important to give our Mental Health as much priority as we are giving to our Physical Health. Here are some top Self Care recommendations to get us through these difficult and uncertain times where many of us are away from loved ones, self-isolating or even under a lockdown.
It’s human to react emotionally to changes and situations that are outside of our control. Because of this, there are large emotions floating around everywhere right now. Disappointment over real and significant losses (postponed holidays and weddings, missed senior semesters, cancelled graduations, years-in-the-making events cancelled, trips and experiences of a lifetime foregone, and more) is palpable and real. In ensuring the ones closest to you are cared for, it’s important to not forget about taking care of yourself. Recognize that feelings such as loneliness, boredom, fear of contracting disease, anxiety, stress, and panic are normal reactions to a stressful situation such as a disease outbreak.
Acknowledging the situation in its entirety is a good starting point. We cannot deny the impact that the pandemic is having on the world around us, but at the same time while keeping up with it, it is important to acknowledge that this is a temporary phase and it will pass by.. Watch, listen to, or read the news for updates from officials, but be aware that there may be rumours during a crisis, especially on social media. Make sure to always check your sources and turn to reliable sources of information (Always check before you Wreck!). That being said, it is also important to sometimes take a step back if the news and media exposure is making you feel overwhelmed. While you will understandably want to keep up-to-date on the latest guidance from health authorities, it’s important to strike a balance between staying informed and consuming everything in your newsfeed. If endless scrolling leaves you feeling anxious and overwhelmed, it may be time to take a break and unplug. Set aside a certain part of the day specifically for news consumption and give yourself a time limit. Every individual has a different threshold, so if you need to disconnect from social media or the news for a short while, go ahead and do it.
Your feelings around the situation, no matter what they are, are valid and need to be given their due importance and respect. Resist the temptation to deny or simply react out of your feelings, dumping them into your surroundings. Instead, name them. Find safe ways of expressing them (journal, talk them out with a friend or therapist, draw them, dance them, run them out) and feel them all the way through. Unresolved emotions lead to all manner of difficulty and health issues including mental health conditions. Each one of us has activities which destress us and has a therapeutic effect on us - this is a good time to get back to it. It can be anything from art, journaling, board games, writing or curling with a good book, to listening to music. Resort to these activities if they help you to destress and overcome strong emotions.
Take care of your body - Eat well, Stay hydrated and Rest up! Good nutrition and sleep cycle can help support a healthy immune system. Give your eyes breaks from screens from time to time. If it helps you to stick to a routine to maintain a normalcy, get ready for the day in the morning as you would if you were going out.
Social Isolation doesn't mean Social Disconnection. Technology has greatly evolved, and while it’s never the same as being physically together, it can help ease out some nerves just by being connected. Video calls and voice calls are often helpful in reducing the psychological impacts of being alone and locked down. It’s always nice to have someone call and check in on you, so go ahead and do that - you can brighten someone’s day by showing that you care. Research shows that quality time with people you care about can boost your happiness level. If you are self-quarantined or even just working remotely, try to still connect with your friends and family through video chat or phone calls. You don’t need to talk about COVID-19. In fact, maybe just talk about pleasant things! Find opportunities to laugh. Talk about books, podcasts, or even the last show you watched on Netflix. Social distancing and self-isolation can have a huge impact on even the most die-hard introvert. Use your technology to connect you with those you know, learning a new skill online and with diverse platforms for entertainment.
Lastly, seek help when you need it. There is no harm in admitting that we all need some help to get by these tough times, so make your mental health a priority and reach out. There are several apps, helplines and services out there and patient ears which are ready to listen and help you through this. So don’t be hesitant or afraid to reach out for help - your feelings are all valid. Be gentle with yourself as you work through these days - things are hard, but this too will pass.
Written by: Vedica Podar