“It’s okay to not be okay.”
“Mental Health” is defined by the World Health Organisation as ‘a state of well-being in which the individual realises his/her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his/her community’.
It refers to our emotional and psychological well-being, which more often than not, we tend to ignore; at least in comparison to our physical health. But, it is important to take care of yourself and your mental health, especially in these trying times when we tend to feel more stressed than usual.
Feeling stressed is an understandable response to the current coronavirus pandemic. You might be worried about catching the virus, about how your loved ones will cope, about the disruption too your studies and routines, and whether you’ll still have a job and enough money. These stressors, along with the constant media hysteria and dealing with disappointment (travel bans, events being cancelled, etc.), add up to a pretty crappy time.
The second wave of Covid-19 has turned more lethal, infecting more people and taking more lives. Besides causing financial and physical problems, it has also affected people mentally, creating panic in their minds.
The uncertainty about their present and future, coupled with government mandates to stay at home, is all exacerbating mental illness. The feeling of being cooped up at home, distant from their loved ones, devoid of social support and fear about new variants is increasing mental illness, according to mental health experts.
As hard as things are, it can be comforting to know that you’re not alone and that others share your feelings. A LOT of people are feeling stressed and anxious right now, particularly because of the uncertainty surrounding the situation. And as a rule, humans prefer certainty to uncertainty. Uncertainty is an undercurrent in our always-on, globally-connected world. On top of the world concerns that personally impact us, there are concerns with our own lives.
Together, these worries lead to anxiety and stress, and for some, it may even trigger anger.
An important part of being overall fit and completely healthy includes taking care of your mental health. When we face uncertainty about the future, events can feel like they are out of our control. This often triggers negative emotions, such as anger and fear – emotions that we are motivated to try to reduce.
However, when it comes to the coronavirus crisis, the actions we take to regain a sense of control tend to be the least effective for controlling the virus and our emotions.
For many, many people, it is really hard to sit with uncertainty. To really have no idea what’s going to happen next, where this is all going to go, if we or someone we know will might get sick, for how long we’re going to be stuck in our homes, for how long the virus will continue to upend our lives, for how long some of us may be without work or steady income, etc. It is this area – the uncertainty and the unknown – that really stirs the anxiety and fear even further for people, and can be completely intolerable for many.
“If you can’t stand having uncertainty in your life, you are probably doing things that are designed to either remove all uncertainty in daily life situations or you are outright avoiding uncertain situations”, says Dr. Rahul Khemani, a consultant psychiatrist.
Do you go through any of the feelings we mentioned?
Do you wonder what you could do to take care of your psyche?
Below listed are a few lifestyle changes could help you maintain good mental health.
- Get adequate sleep: Sleep is extremely important for both our physical and mental well-being. Without a proper sleep schedule, our body grows weary and our actions get sluggish. Good sleep gives rest to our body and mind.
- Eat better: Your brain needs a mix of nutrients in order to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body. A diet that is good for your physical health is also good for your mental health.
- Practice tolerating uncertainty: Write down how things make you feel (before and after doing them). One thing we don’t like about uncertainty is that if we allow it into our life, sometimes things can go wrong. To use the example of experimenting with cooking, perhaps the meal tastes pretty bad. Write down the outcome and then write down what you did to cope. For example, did you still eat the meal, or did you make something else? Maybe you send a picture of it to a friend with a joke around how you nailed it!
- Keep active: Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and can help you concentrate, sleep and feel better. Exercise keeps the brain and your other vital organs healthy, and is also a significant benefit towards improving your mental health.
- Keep in touch: There is nothing better than meeting someone face to face, but that’s not always possible; less so in the middle of a pandemic. But you can always give them a call, drop them a note or chat with them online instead. Keep the lines of communication open; it is good for you!
- Get plenty of sunlight: Sunlight is a good source of Vitamin D, which scientists say is a mood elevator. Catch that morning sun, but don’t forget your sunscreen!
- Avoid smoking and drinking: Both alcohol and tobacco can wreak havoc on your system and make you feel sick. It is best to avoid both if you can.
- Do something you are good at: What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? What is your favourite hobby? Enjoying doing something for yourself can help beat stress. Doing an activity you enjoy probably means you are good at it, and achieving something boosts your self esteem.
- Take a Break: A change of scene or change of pace is good for your mental health. It could be a five-minute pause from cleaning your kitchen or a half-hour lunch break between work. A few minutes can be enough to de-stress you. Give yourself some ‘me time’.
- Do things and care for others: Close, quality relationships are key for a happy life. Doing something for those we love, gives us a sense of satisfaction.
- Meditate: Breathing exercises and meditation are extremely good for refreshing your minds.
- Remember, you’re not your thoughts: When you’re feeling anxious, tell yourself it’s a normal part of being human. It’s important to understand that we are not our thoughts. Thoughts may come into your head for a whole bunch of reasons. By accepting that they are not facts, thoughts lose some of their power to upset us. Let’s talk about time Moldova remember think about it and you like black is completely sure right now.
- Ask for help: Seek professional help without worrying about the stigma attached to it. Asking for help does not mean you are weak but it in fact means that you are strong. It takes a strong mind to accept that we need help. Seeking help from a medical professional goes a long way.