The whole world is going through an extraordinary phase. The present COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdown is causing a great deal of uncertainty and doubt that might be ultimately affecting your mental health negatively. During this phase it becomes even more imperative to remain positive and take care of your mental health. Here are few ways in which you can stay positive during these trying times.
Limit your news intake: First of all you need to moderate your intake of news. There is no doubt that watching news seems to be the only way to stay updated regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. But, watching too much news can be overwhelming and can cause a good deal of stress. If you feel stressed and anxious after watching news, it’s a sign that you need to limit excessive news consumption. You can make a point to watch news only twice or thrice a day, to stay up-to-date. Moreover, it is important that you follow only authorised and reliable sources of information. It is important to stay alert but no reason to stay alarmed all the time.
Follow a routine: If you are working from home or have kids who are attending online classes, it becomes even more important that you follow a routine so that you get proper time for all the activities and don’t unnecessarily get overwhelmed with all the tasks and activities at hand. Moreover following a routine will make you feel more in control of the situation and it will help you normalize the not-so-normal circumstances that the whole world is going through. You can make a To-Do list to organize work or maintain a dairy or journal of the tasks to be completed. Allocate time to work, exercise, rest, etc judiciously.
You are not alone: Remember, that you are not alone in this, everyone is going through almost the same situation. The only difference is how everyone is responding to these circumstances and no single way can be considered perfect. Do what suits you best.
Exercise, eat healthy, and sleep well: It has become even more critical during this lockdown that you eat a healthy diet and exercise daily. As per health officials, a healthy adult is required to perform 2.5 hours of exercise per week. Exercise has been found to have various health benefits, like it helps maintain healthy cognitive functions, and helps reduce stress, anxiety, and depression by releasing feel-good hormones like endorphins. It is equally important to follow a healthy balanced diet. Avoid food that has too much fat and sugar content, avoid packed food that is filled with preservatives. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables regularly. Last but not the least, make sure you get 7-8 hours of sound sleep. Following a healthy balanced diet and exercising daily along with a sound sleep will boost your immunity and help you stay active.
Meditate: Meditation has been found to relieve stress and anxiety. It can also relieve depressive feelings. Just a few minutes spent on meditation can have a huge positive impact on you mental, physical and emotional health. Make it a point to spend few minutes daily on meditation. Find a quiet place where you can place a comfortable seat, make sure that the temperature of the room is neither too hot nor too cold, wear comfortable loose fitting clothes, and ensure the lighting of the room is not too bright. You can also add other elements like, a candle or aroma diffuser if you want. The purpose is to create a happy and comfortable space.
Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness refers to being present in the moment. Not thinking about the past or future, just being aware of the present moment non-judgementally. You can be mindful while cooking, eating, or even while sitting in your balcony. You can start practicing mindfulness by noticing things you can touch, see, and hear. Simply pause for a while and focus your attention on objects you can touch, see, and hear in your present environment. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Notice how your body reacts to deep breathing. While eating or cooking, use all of your five senses to notice how the food looks, smells, tastes, and touches like. These are some of the ways you can be mindful while performing your regular activities.
Stay in touch with your family and friends: While we all are basically locked up in our homes, this does not mean that you cannot meet your family or friends virtually. Stay in touch with your family members and friends by calling them up or having a video chat. Don’t let the lockdown cause loneliness. Stay connected with people around you virtually. Man is a social animal, and therefore, keeping in touch with others is vital for your mental and emotional wellbeing.
Break the monotony: The lockdown has already put a halt on a lot of our usual activities. We all are confined to our houses, so it is natural to experience monotony in our day-to-day activities. It, therefore, becomes even more important that we do not let monotony set in. If you are spending a lot of time on Netflix or Facebook and still not feeling entertained much, or feeling rather bored, it’s time to take a break and do something else—read a book, take a walk indoor, talk with your kids or partner. You can also break the monotony by simply changing your bed-sheets, trying some new dishes, going through old family album, redecorating your house, or by organizing your forever messy wardrobe. Who said there’s a rule where you can’t dress up for home or you have to use your finest crockery only for guests. Arrange a candle light dinner for your partner or family members, dress up, use your finest crockery and have a restaurant like feel at home. You might have to compromise on food, but who cares. The point is to create memories and moments that you can cherish when the pandemic is over.
Gratitude: No matter how difficult the present situation seems, there is still plenty to be grateful for, if you look properly. When there are people who are struggling to survive in shelter homes, when people are barely getting enough to eat—in such times, if you are getting three meals a day, have roof over your head, and loved ones who care for you, you have enough to be grateful for. Think about it—on the one hand, there are frontline workers who are risking their lives to save others and on the other, there is you who can stay safe indoor. If you bring all this to your consciousness, you would definitely experience a sense of gratitude. The feeling of gratitude will, in turn, help you overcome all your stresses and worries resulting in contentment, which will bring to you peace and satisfaction.
Help your community: It has been proven that helping others makes one feel positive and capable. In whatever little ways you can, try to help your community, maybe by giving food or other essentials to the needy (while taking all the necessary precautions and maintaining a safe distance), by appreciating the healthcare and other frontline workers, or even by following the directions of the state government. You can also help you community by just being kind to each other. In these difficult times, everyone is going through a lot, so simple gesture of kindness can bring positivity not only into your life but also into the lives of others.
Don’t think about future, prepare for the future: As we all are going through this stressful phase, there must be many who are fearing possible layoff in the near future. Already a lot of companies have started downsizing their work force. This has led to a great deal of anxiety and stress among a lot of individuals. But worrying simply cannot help you in this time. Instead of thinking too much about the future, use this time to enhance your skill sets, so as to make yourself essential for your company. Enrol yourself in some online courses and take part in these courses with full dedication. Don’t consider work from home as a paid holiday, work with full dedication.
Be gentle with yourself: Don’t forget to be kind and gentle with yourself as well. Remember, this is something which none of us has ever experienced before, so you must not blame yourselves for not being prepared enough. If you are not able to learn a new skill or cook fancy dinners for your family, or if you are not as productive as your usual self, there’s no need to be harsh on yourself. If you don’t feel like doing anything, that is fine too. Relax, take rest. Remember, the lockdown could also be a chance to refresh or take a break from the normal hustle and bustle of life. If you come out of this lockdown as more energized and refreshed, consider it a success and achievement. Also, stop comparing yourself with others. Every individual is different and will be responding to the situation differently, there’s no point comparing yourself with others. Spend more time with your family. If you feel anxious or depressed there’s no harm in reaching out for help. There must be some online counseling services provided in your community, reach out to them.