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Taking Care of Mental Health amidst the Pandemic

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Every one of us has been greatly affected by the global pandemic. Our daily routines, our work, our studies, our economy, and our social life, everything now is different from what we were used to doing before the pandemic took over our lives.  Locking ourselves inside our homes during quarantines, observing protocols, and being cautious is now the new normal, but along with this are the effects on us not just in the physical health but also in our mental health. Living in the midst of a pandemic is really stressful and waking up keeping a positive mindset, and not worrying about our health and those people who are close to our heart is an everyday challenge for everyone.

The National Library of Medicine has conducted a survey from March 28 – April 12, 2020 regarding the psychological impact of the pandemic in the Philippines and according to them, during the early phase of the pandemic in our country, one-fourth of the respondents reported moderate-to-severe anxiety and one-sixth reported moderate-to-severe depression and psychological impact.  Also, the latest figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that suicide incidents rose 25.7% in 2020, which makes it the leading cause of death that jumped from rank 31st  in 2019 to 27th in 2020. The emerging mental health issues due to a pandemic is really alarming since every one of us can be affected directly.

So, how can we cope, and how to take care of our mental health in the midst of pandemic?

Here are 9 tips for taking care of your mental health during the pandemic that you might find helpful.

  1. Distance physically, but not socially

We’ve been practicing social distancing for over a year now, but it doesn’t mean you should isolate yourself and cut off your connections with the people you used to socialize with. Distance from them physically, but not emotionally.

It’s essential for our mental health to stay connected with the people we value. We could use our gadgets to keep in touch with our family, friends, classmates, and workmates. Checking up on each other could be a great help.

2. Stay informed – through credible sources

Being knowledgeable and being informed during this time is beneficial, but lots of fake news and information are spreading all over the internet, and it could add up to your anxiety. That’s why it’s important that we know what articles we’re reading. Being more critical and cautious in what we read, watch or hear is a must. Checking the sources of information if they’re credible is also important.

Always stay up-to-date on the community guidelines, announcements, and developments. Some reliable sources are The World Health Organization, and the Department of Health.

3. Set limits and take breaks from all electronics

Our gadgets could be really helpful, but if overly used they could also cause harmful effects on us. The new normal society requires us to spend more time using our gadgets whether it’s for work or for school. But taking a break and rest is necessary. Too much exposure to radiation could lead to serious health problems.

If you find it challenging to step away from your electronics, try making a schedule of what time of the day you should start using your gadgets and what time you should take a break.

4. Plan your days and try to have fun

There are days that we feel empty and purposeless that’s why creating plans for the following days could be a great help in starting to make yourself feel like you have a purpose or role. Creating a daily to-do list or schedule will give you a sense of purpose and control. Make those lists and schedules achievable and reasonable.

Try to include in your plans or to-do lists things that you enjoy doing like dancing, doing some workouts or writing. You can also try doing new hobbies if possible. It’s important to enjoy the things you’re doing. Doing things that can give you joy will lessen your stress, it can be a distraction from your overthinking and it can also be a source of your delightfulness. Give yourself permission to be happy and enjoy things.

5. Be physically active

Most of the gyms are temporarily closed. But staying active even inside our homes is important. Aside from the physical benefits, exercising/workouts are a good way to ease up our minds and thoughts. While exercising, our body creates happy hormones that could help to lighten up our mood.

There are lots of workout routines that can be found on the internet especially on Youtube. There are also Zumba dances if you’re not fond of doing workouts. It’s better to find a way of exercise that you enjoy doing.

6. Eat and drink as healthy as possible

When stressed, most of us have the tendency to look for foods to lessen the stress that we feel. But eating too many foods that aren’t good for our body is also harmful. Choosing healthy foods like vegetables and/or fruits should always be on your list. Have some stocks of healthy foods in your fridge so that whenever you feel you need to stress-eating then your food options are healthy.

Limit drinking too many alcoholic beverages, and drink more water.

7. Get enough sleep

Lack of sleep is always linked to a number of unfavorable health consequences which include heart disease, diabetes, and depression. Getting enough rest and sleep is a must to our well-being. An adequate amount of sleep also helps our brain to function well.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, try to set aside your gadgets an hour before sleeping. If there’s something in your mind that keeps you from falling asleep, try to write it down. Drinking warm milk also helps.

8. Challenge your negative thoughts

Your anxiety can be fed up with negative thoughts. Negative thoughts can be powerful to the point that it can make you believe that it’s true. To challenge your thoughts, you have to write them down first and then ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this really true?
  • Does this define me as a person?
  • Did it happen before? What did I do to cope with it?
  • Does this contribute to my well-being?

After asking these questions to yourself, think of your answers and compare and balance them with your real thoughts.

9. Aim to think positively

It might be difficult to stay positive in this kind of situation, but being optimistic is what will keep us going. If you stay positive, thinking there’s something good that will happen in the future, then you can come up with ways or ideas no matter how small it is. Keep a journal with you to write down your thoughts. Journaling is a highly recommended stress-management tool that can help reduce anxiety and lessen feelings of distress.

You are not alone. We are all in the same world and we experience the same problems Covid-19 brought us. But these won’t last a lifetime. Bad things always have their endings. Seek help if you think you needed it. Never be ashamed for asking for some help, because experiencing/having mental health issues are normal and should never be taken for granted.  Always put in mind that life is hard, but you’re tough.

Your mental health matters. You matter.

References:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3286183

Rappler.com

https://www.verywellmin.com

familycentre.org

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