How to care for your mental health in a pandemic. #Covid19
Updated: Jul 4, 2020
In December 2019, COVID-19 was identified in Wuhan, China. Since then, Covid has gone on to infect almost every country of the world with very high numbers in Italy, USA, and UK. The problems of Covid are as social as they're clinical, unemployment rates are skyrocketing everywhere in the world, people are separated from their families and alone, Some Couples are stuck home together, Children are not going to school, public religious activities are on hold and a lot of people are unsure of what the future holds.
For some people, international exams have been cancelled, and japa plans have been disrupted. In the midst of all these uncertainties, it is important to continuously care for your mental health. Contrary to what most people think, bad mental health is not just the presence of mental illness, it is rather a state of well-being in which an individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community (W.H.O). In simple terms, if you're always angry, if you're always tired at work, if you find yourself feeling too sad too often, then you might be mentally stressed.
In this article, I'll share ways you can care for your mental health in a pandemic.
Set a routine. Different people have different realities at this time. For a lot of people, we've lost our jobs or are home from school and therefore are stuck at home with so much free time and nothing to do, or maybe our parents or family or friends have hijacked our free time with chores they want us to do for them, While for some of us we're still working albeit from home and instead of the workload to reduce it seems like all we do is work work work. If you belong to these two categories, it is very important to set a routine for how our days will go as it can get pretty frustrating and tiring if it feels to us like we're not achieving anything meaningful or if we're still overworked while at home. With routines, you can set exactly how much time will be dedicated to work, chores, family, exercise, prayers, learning new skills, taking online courses, teaching people, etc. Make sure not to stretch yourself too much with your routine, and plan adequate sleep and break times.
Eat regularly and healthily. For some of us, the pandemic has totally changed our eating patterns for the worse. Studies show that the foods we eat have a significant impact on our moods, it is therefore important that even in a pandemic we give care to the foods we eat. For some of us, we're eating a lot of junk food thanks to increased baking and frying that we do, for some of us, we're now eating eating 6-9 times daily (not judging you👀), for some of us, coffee is our new best friend and we're barely eating anything. Well we're here to help you make changes in your eating habits. Commit to eating regularly 2-3 times daily, commit to eating less fried and junk foods, commit to eating more vegetables. If you'd like to join other people to commit to this, join our healthy eating challenge
Keep in touch with loved ones. For some people, lockdown, airport closure, interstate travel ban, ill health, and other reasons have prevented them from being with their loved ones. Family is a source of love and support so being apart from them might be difficult. It is a good thing we have technology, so ensure to use it in keeping in touch with your family. Call them often, facetime, Whatsapp calls and videos, etc. Send them gifts also, cards, new songs from their favourite artiste, do activities with them over the phone, pray with them if it's your thing, sing with them, cook meals together. The important thing is keeping the connection open.
Exercise. We know sometimes all you want to do is lay in bed all day, but don't do that! Laying in bed all day is a recipe for disaster as exercise has been scientifically proven to improve mood, aid weight loss, and help the heart. It is advised that an adult does moderate exercise for 150 minutes every week i.e 30 mins for 5 days each week. This can involve brisk walking, jogging, some forms of yoga, zumba, cardio. Just get up and move
Journal + Daily affirmations. Journalling can be a powerful form of self expression, that allows people to deal with complex feelings. It can also be a way of emptying your mind of tumultuous thoughts. Contrary to what most people think, journaling is not just for teenagers instead, anyone can journal. Coupled with journaling, daily affirmations are another way to boost the mind. Stand in front of your mirror and loudly affirm, or maybe say a whisper after your prayer; you are worthy, you are enough, you are loved. If some part of your mind wants to ask who loves you, remind them that all of us here at Calmsprings love you deeply.
Tune out the news and social media. 2020 has been a wild year, whew. Bad news left, right and center. Sometimes the best thing you can do is tune it all out. Don’t stay glued to the news 24/7, log out of your twitter account, and maybe watch a funny movie. It’s unlikely the world would end if you miss the news, and if it does end, it’s unlikely your knowing would have made much of a difference. This year, the serenity prayer is even more important; “Grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change, the courage to change the things i can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
If you’re religious, pray. For some of us, religion brings us great hope, and hope is important for your mental health. So now might not be a good time to let go of your religion, hold on to it and let it bring you hope and comfort.
Keep your house clean and decongested. For some of us, we’re home for most hours of the day, and some of us go out to work. For all of us, a clean and decongested home cannot be overemphasized. A clean decongested home promotes adequate ventilation, rids the home of pesky pets, creates space, and improves the quality of our foods and sleep, all of these are important to mental health. So please get decongesting.
Do something you enjoy each day. We’ve listed a whole lot of things to do to care for your mental health, but even those things can get tiring. So each day, make sure to kick back and do something you absolutely enjoy; read a novel, watch your favorite series, cook something delicious, soak in a bath. Whatever it is that your soul delights in, ensure to do.
Lastly, Drink water and mind your business. Drink lots and lots of water, at least 2-3 liters each day. And you really won’t know how much minding your business is a life saver until you commit to minding your business. So yeah, these are our parting words for you: Drink water and mind your business.
P.S: Covid is still very much active in Nigeria and the figures are not a lie. Protect yourself and loved ones, stay at home as much as you can and if you have to go out keep your distance, wear a face mask and vigorously practise hand hygiene.