The idea of a pandemic causing the world to shut down and confining everyone to health restrictions is unfathomable. Even as we live through it, it still feels somewhat unreal. Unfortunately, COVID-19 and its dire effects on livelihoods, economies, and mental health are undeniably real.
From a mental health perspective, the pandemic has been a trigger for many people dealing with mental health challenges. More people in society are now struggling with heightened anxiety, despair, and complicated feelings of grief. As such, healthy coping mechanisms are essential in this season.
Maintaining Social Contact
Isolation is brutal on both your emotional and mental health, especially with COVID-19 in mind. It tends to magnify every difficult emotion you are going through as you continually regurgitate your thoughts.
Granted, it is healthy to maintain some degree of personal space and recharge from social interaction. However, it is equally essential that you have some social contact. Interacting with others offers you a different perspective and could go a long way in improving your wellness.
Staying in touch with close friends and family also creates a sense of community even though you may be physically separated. Each of you would have a support system to tap into on the days when you feel overwhelmed. This is even more imperative if you are dealing with bouts of anxiety. The presence of loved ones, albeit online, offers much needed emotional reassurance.
As work from home becomes the new way of life, the great wall between work and home has been demolished. Most employees work longer hours than the ordinarily would during regular office schedules while also managing things at home. A running joke among colleagues goes: Are you working from home, or do you live at the office?
If this is the case for you, you should establish some boundaries between your work and home life. Working at all hours of the day means you have no time to disengage and fully rest. It is the fastest way to achieve mental burn out. Soon enough, you may have a hard time focusing or feeling motivated. Add to that other life challenges, and you are setting yourself up for a breakdown.
Make an effort to plan your workday and set timelines for different activities, including rest and recreation. You will find that you are more productive when you take the time to replenish your mind and body.
Since the early stages of the pandemic, most therapists have been offering online therapy sessions. If you were in therapy before, online sessions might feel like a huge adjustment, but you must stay invested. Space where you can express and address your state of mind, is invaluable at this time.
On the other hand, it could be that you never considered therapy or procrastinated due to scheduling restrictions. This time during the COVID pandemic might be a good time to start. Online sessions are less intrusive, and you can easily make time for them. Some therapists are also offering subsidized sessions to promote mental health wellness during these trying times.
Perhaps the one measly advantage we could ever attribute to Covid-19 is that it forced us all to hit the pause button. Modern living is fast-paced and has everyone trying to chase a goal or a paycheck. There is hardly ever any time to slow down and rest. So much so that self-care is marketed as some luxurious indulgence.
Self-care can take on many forms; there is no one general prescription. It could be that you need to sleep more, eat better, or get back into a hobby you enjoy. Mental self-care can also avoid media content that you find too upsetting or interactions that deplete you. In essence, take on what you feel would improve your wellness.
Pay attention to your physical health as well. If you have an underlying condition like hypertension, it can get exacerbated by your emotional state. Invest in a BP monitor machine and be diligent about taking readings every day to keep track of your BP levels. An exercise routine or yoga could also help manage overall physiological wellness.
It is estimated that about 195 million jobs may be affected by Covid-19. Job loss, even in ordinary circumstances, is a significant stressor. Add to that the uncertainty of a pandemic, and it could feel like too much to bear. Not to mention the transitions that follow, such as having to move back in with family or re-organize your living arrangements entirely.
There will be many life-changing transitions during this pandemic. The most you can do is put in your best effort to get by and lean on your support system. Allow yourself room to grieve your losses too. Emotional suppression will not only harm you, but it will also prolong your healing.
Novel, unusual, devastating, and unprecedented. These are some of the words that have been used to describe the COVID pandemic. They all signify that none of us has a fool-proof manual on how to get through it. So, dare to be kinder to yourself and others. The whole world is learning on the job, just how overwhelming it is to manage a pandemic. You are not alone in the struggle with mental health and more.