You might be wondering why I’m talking about mental health during Covid-19 when it’s our physical health that seems most likely in danger right now. Hear me out.
It’s been less than a couple of weeks since I’ve been at home to help #flattenthecurve for the coronavirus outbreak. Until last week, news from other parts of the world about business closures, working from home, community spread of the virus, overnight doubling of numbers of those infected, and even the toilet paper crisis felt very far away from me. Then all of a sudden, all of these things started to materialize around me.
Chances are, you’re in a similar situation as well – staying home and trying to navigate these changed circumstances.
Staying and working from home sounds easy. It is even a luxury when compared to the situation of health care professionals, airport and airline crew, grocery and medical store staff, and so many others that are helping run things smoothly amid the chaos we’ve collectively been pulled into.
As luxurious as it is though, staying home for an extended period of time feels extremely isolating. Add to that the anxiety about the health of your family, running out of supplies at home, the empty grocery store aisles, tanking stock markets, daily updates of growing number of infections and covidiots, and annoying emails about Covid-19 from every business, and we have a mental heath problem brewing!
Some days, keeping a positive outlook towards things is as easy as flipping a switch. On others, it’s a battle that you’ll need to fight with yourself.
On those hard days, here are some things that you can use to care for your mental health during Covid-19.
Mental Health During Covid-19 Pandemic
Turn off the news
Be honest with yourself – are you following the news to keep yourself updated, or are you getting sucked into the mass-hysteria being generated?
Yes, you need to stay informed, but beyond that, if it’s not something that you have the power to control, then give yourself the permission to walk away from it, at least for a little while.
This means taking a break from checking trending hashtags on twitter, opening google news articles, following updates on Facebook, opening related Whatsapp forwards, and obviously, watching the news on TV and reading the newspaper.
This also means taking a break from talking about the situation. Don’t ignore it, but also don’t make every waking minute about it.
Go for walks
They say that the best things in life are always free, and this couldn’t be closer to the truth! Because fresh air, sunlight, and exercise – all free – have magical effects on your mental health!
In the northern regions, spring has sprung and it’s beautiful outside! If you’re from a warm place, you can still step out early morning or late evening when it’s pleasant.
You needn’t (and probably shouldn’t) go too far or meet anyone – you can simply walk or jog around your house/building/terrace. Be sure to notice the sounds of chirping birds, the breeze against your face, and the health and freedom you enjoy!
I’m guilty of not doing this myself for the entirety of last week, and based on my Instagram story polls, I’m clearly not the only one! You can check out my Instagram here.
While it’s awesome to feel connected to others around the world through some arguably questionable quirks, I recommend taking the time everyday for a grooming session. If you’re working from home, see if you enjoy dressing up in business-casual rather than sit around in your PJs.
This is a form of self-care and it’s important to show yourself that you are cared for. You’ll also feel a lot more energetic, and as a consequence, more productive and happy.
Connect with friends
We’ve grown apart from a lot of our friends over the years because we’ve had increasingly diverging lives, and not much in common to talk about.
This is the perfect time to finally rekindle those bonds. Because chances are, they’re feeling and going through a lot of the same things that you are!
We can all use some kind of (virtual) human connection right now. We’re planning dinner-over-Skype with some friends, and this is fantastic because we aren’t limited to only those in the same city!
I’m also seeing a lot of buddies across the world staying connected through virtual watch parties. TwoSeven – our webapp that enables you to watch videos together online – has seen a massive surge in new users and traffic. It has been an honor for us to be of service in our own little way during this time of need.
Connect with yourself
How much time do you spend on introspection on a regular basis? My guess for most of you – not much.
How wonderful is it that we finally have some time to sit with our thoughts and get to know ourselves!
Put away all devices and books, and just enjoy a cup of tea by yourself. Depending on what you’re comfortable with, express your thoughts through illustrations, words, music, or any other form.
Ask yourself questions about your interests, goals, future plans, what you want to be known for, and things you’d like to change about yourself. Surprise yourself with candid answers.
Fall crazy in love with yourself – the you that you don’t often let surface!
Create more than you consume!Click to Tweet
This has always been my mantra for a happy, healthy mind.
Create something – a joke, a poem, a painting, a song, a picture, an app, a story, a clay pot, a video, a scarf, a web-page, a blog post (Exhibit A).
It’ll give you purpose, it’ll improve your self-worth, and it’ll make you feel a lot happier.
Creating something when there’s a lot of destruction around us is a poetic way to restore balance in the world. Definitely a great way to improve your mental health during Covid-19.
Don’t let everyday be the same
I don’t know about you, but I’m quickly losing track of what day it is. I woke up in a panic on Sunday afternoon worried that I’d missed a work conference call. Clearly, I’m taking time to get used to this whole working-from-home arrangement.
When you’re spending time at the same place and interacting with the same people all day every day, it’s highly likely that days will start to blend into one another. So it’s important to make each day different from the others, even if ever so slightly.
It helps to spend a few minutes every morning writing a quick agenda for the day to help guide you. You needn’t try to be the queen (or king) or productivity – that’s not the goal here. But reminders like “call Sagarika today”, “edit Vermont trip pictures”, or “plan a car-movie-date” can help not lose yourself in the sameness of each day.
Even changing how you do a daily activity like watching a TV show can make a huge difference!
Also read: Focus Word for 2020
Meditate and practice gratitude
I’m keeping this for the end because these are the two things related to mental health everyone and their grandmother will readily suggest.
But I’m keeping this in my post even though it’s such a cliché because it
Discovering the benefits of meditation has been the single-most amazing thing that has happened to my mind! Done right, meditation can calm you down and help you feel more centered. There are many guided meditation apps and YouTube videos that can help you get started. I can’t recommend enough that you jump right in!
The fact that we’re able to help others stay healthy from the comfort of our homes is something to truly appreciate. This is also a wonderful opportunity to discover how we’d like our “normal” to be when we can finally get back to it. All of these are things to be immensely grateful for!
On a side note, remember that there are people who have lost all of their retirement savings in the market, their jobs, their health, and even family members. There are others who aren’t safe in their own homes. If you know someone who’s going through a hard time, please do anything you can to help them out. Without putting yourself or others at risk, of course.
How have you been caring for your mental health during Covid-19?