Right now, we are experiencing a truly unique crisis; A pandemic. In other words, a worldwide disease outbreak. I don’t know if you’ve seen anything like this situation during your lifetime, but I know I haven’t.
Many people are losing their jobs, children are out of school indefinitely, and many businesses have closed, which has affected the national and global economy tremendously. Some people have even had first-hand exposure to the virus, having family and friends infected.
The COVID-19 pandemic, with all of the panic and uncertainty it brings, has done a number on the mental wellbeing of millions of people worldwide. That said, many people are looking for answers to remain mentally healthy during this difficult time. Therefore, I have compiled a list of mental health tips and advice to manage our mental health efficiently during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Remain Consistent with your Daily Routine: Due to quarantine guidelines that have been set forth, many of us have experienced a significant shift in our daily activities. For most of us, life during this COVID-19 crisis is much different than it was just a few weeks ago. However, it is essential that you remain focused and engaged with the responsibilities you had before the pandemic. Life goes on. Don’t fall victim to the mental trap of letting everything in your life fall by the wayside because of what’s happening at the moment. Have a tunnel vision mentality. This crisis will be over at some point, and your life will be back to the way it was. Do not let this situation distract you from your personal goals, relationships, and priorities.
- Stay Away from Drugs and Alcohol: Needless to say, drugs and alcohol not used in moderation can lead to problems a myriad of problems. Being quarantined is not an excuse to make irrational decisions. Life will go on after the quarantine is over, but the effects–as well as the decisions–made from abusing substances may be irreversible. Therefore, you must find more sensible things to do to manage your boredom during this time. Regardless of the situation, using drugs and excessive drinking is never a good idea.
- Remain Positive: With all of the chaos going on around us, it’s easy to fall into the mental trap of thinking negatively. I know it isn’t easy to remain positive if the pandemic has caused financial hardship or impacted your health. So much about the current pandemic is uncertain. When will it be over? Will we all have to be vaccinated? Will there be a recession? Many of us are incredibly anxious about this virus, which naturally invites a certain level of negativity. I understand it. I, too, have had moments of negative thinking because of this situation. But I assure you negativity in a time like this serves you no purpose. Try diligently to keep your negativity and self-pity to a minimum as it will distort your ability to cope with this situation, and all that comes with it. Now is not a time to feel sorry for yourself; your loved ones need you.
- Stay connected to family, friends and/or support systems: During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are advised to “socially distance” ourselves from others to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 disease. Social distancing is limiting physical contact with others. It’s recommended that we stay at least six feet away from others. While social distancing and quarantine practices do help slow down the speed of the virus, it’s vital to remember that social distancing and social isolation are not mutually exclusive. Social isolation is one of the main factors (and symptoms) of depression. Cutting yourself off from your family, friends, and support systems will possibly help you avoid COVID-19, but it will do a number on your mental health. Isolation from supportive people is devastating to your mental health. Being alone during difficult times can cause improper thinking. In other words, it gives rise to depressive thoughts (i.e., self-pity, guilt, cynicism, etc.), which can lead to a host of other dysfunctional and self-destructive behaviors.
- Engage hobbies and other pleasurable activities: Now is the time, more than other time (possibly ever), to tap into your gamer side. Or to start your home yoga routine, or whatever it is that you enjoy doing. Take this time to indulge in relaxation, recharge your mind, and replenish your spirit. Look at it this way: if you can’t leave the house, you may as well enjoy yourself while at home!
- Learn or improve a skill: As mentioned above, now is an excellent time to take advantage of all the extra time being spent at home. Instead of spending all of your time worrying or relaxing (which is fine when done in moderation), try to spend some time investing in yourself. Work on things that will improve your life; this could be learning a new language, learning about stocks, or reading a book that is relevant in your career field.
- Remember that this situation is beyond your control: It is vital to remember that regardless of what happens with the COVID-19 pandemic, most of it, if not all of it, is beyond your control. You don’t have any control over when all this will be over with. And you can’t make everyone practice social distancing. All we can really do at this moment is control our own actions. We still have control of our attitudes and how we choose to manage our time. Choose to make decisions that you will be proud of when this crisis is over.
At the end of the day, there is no particular way to manage your time effectively during this crisis, as everyone’s situation is different. Whatever your situation is, you have to figure out what is the best decision to make. Of course, there will be moments when you will do things that are not mentally healthy; so above, all practice self-care and self-compassion, and you should be just fine.