This is the war of the new generation. The COVID-19 coronavirus is spreading exponentially and the world—regardless of class, race, or location—is threatened, undermined, and definitely overwhelmed. More than the unavailability of toilet paper, there are plenty of reasons to back up the panic: massive loss of jobs, emerging risks of global recession, declining sales in the tourism sector, over-information (or lack thereof), separation from family and peers, and disruption of our daily routines.
However obvious that statement is, human beings are still not wired to like uncertainty. We feel anxious when we do not feel safe. We feel stressed when we cannot hold control over a situation. In times like these, our mental health suffers. This very reaction, while perfectly normal, impacts the life outside what is personal; case in point, mental clarity influences productivity, productivity drives financial growth, uncertainty shakes relationships, so forth.
We cannot deny, therefore, that before (and even after) this pandemic, mental illness remains an epidemic. The World Economic Forum reports that more than one in ten people worldwide suffer from a mental disorder at some point in their lives. As such, there exists an inevitable pattern of fear arising from rapid changes and the unknown.
Now you might feel helpless than usual. For some who struggle with mental health issues, the turn of events can cause triggers. Either way, it is vital to note that we can always manage how we respond. Here are some tips to help you mind your mind:
Stay connected. Isolation does not equate to aloneness. View quarantine as a chance to connect with family, peers, and colleagues, even if it means virtually. Check in on those who may be particularly isolated. The emergence of the pandemic has brought about online groups and virtual forums of sorts (coffee, books, memes, name it) that can help you beat your craving for belongingness. These groups aim to gather like-minded individuals and to start a conversation while in the virtual presence of others.
Develop a stress threshold. Now this will be different for every person. What should you focus on? How much news should you consume? What should be included in your routine moving forward? Map out what needs to be prioritized, be it eating healthy meals, scheduling sleeping and wake times, or exercising once (or twice) a day. Limit your information intake and read only high quality, reliable news to avoid unnecessary distress. Set clear distinctions between work hours versus personal hours. This aids in creating a sense of control which the current circumstance cannot give.
Focus on the present. Often we tend to cage ourselves in the illusion of what’s next. Well, in this extraordinarily trying time, no one knows what is. While crafting contingency plans in mind, shift your focus to the present, to what is tangible around you, to getting back to your senses. A recent study of Schueller found that proactively savoring what you usually take for granted—enjoying a cup of morning coffee, checking to-do list, eating your favorite meal—decreases depressive symptoms. In essence, living in the moment makes individuals genuinely happier. As such, if you press focus on the now, worries relapse.
Practice self-care. It could be as simple as taking the time out to watch a series, read a book, or perhaps cook a new recipe you stumbled upon on Youtube. Self-care tactics are what we proactively do to reach mental, emotional, and physical stability. Try to lay out the red flags that contribute to your anxiety cycle and drop what you do not need (such as obsessively checking the news about COVID-19, excessively drinking alcohol or skipping daily work-out routines). Follow up with medical care or better yet, complement it with alternative forms of healing like energy medicine and crystal therapy, as clinical trials have confirmed that both are supportive for anxiety, trauma, and clearing energy blocks, gently speeding up the healing of the body and mind in a therapeutic approach.
Reach out for help through virtual counseling courses. Help is always here. If these frightening times have made you undergo a series of panic, anxiety, distress, or depression, do seek help from professionals. If you have a pre-existing mental health condition, please carry on with your therapy. Due to the constraints brought about by the pandemic, plenty of industries were pushed to move their practice to digital, counselling and therapy included. Signing up for online counseling services and courses can help in coping, stress reduction, and mutual support in a time of upheaval.
While there are many stressors that take center stage in the time of coronavirus spread, what matters at the end of the day is to come out strong when this all ends. It starts internally—by embracing good well-being beyond physical (but also mental), by laying out play-by-play execution to manage stress and anxiety, and by minding our mind, and those around us.