Coping with stress during COVID-19 pandemic
Fear, anxiety and stress are normal feelings to have during this time of COVID19 pandemic. Many have the fear of contracting the virus. The pandemic has also contributed to changes to our daily lives; having to stay at home, being restricted from travel and movements within the cities given the curfew.
There is also the reality that most people have to work remotely from their homes, with temporary unemployment for some, some children learning from home, with those who can't attend online classes behind with their school and limited socialization as physical contact with family, friends and colleagues is not recommended. It is therefore important to look after your mental wellness during these times. Here are some tips to help with that:
1. Eat an ‘anti-depression diet’
Anxiety is likely to increase during this period, but a well-nourished body is better at handling the stress. Includes whole grains, vegetables (particularly green leaves), fruits, and nuts in your meals to look after your mental health. It is also very important to also stay hydrated
2. Maintain a physical exercise routine
It is important to keep exercising. Clinical studies show that regular exercise produces chemicals, such as dopamine and serotonin, which are as effective as antidepressant medication or psychotherapy for treating milder depression. Most people will not have access to a gym during the crisis, so it is important to create a daily exercise routine at home. Experts recommend between 30-40 minutes of exercise, three to four times a week to work up a sweat. People with depression often struggle with exercise, so start small with a 10-minute walk, then add a few minutes daily.
3. Engage in Mental exercise activities
Playing board games or card games are a fun way to exercise your mind. It is also an opportunity to create a bonding moment with your family or housemates. This is a great way to distract yourself from the current reality of things
4. Filter news and social media
Constant news about COVID19 can feel relentless and may exacerbate existing mental health problems. Be careful about the balance of watching important news and the news that could cause you to feel depressed and disrupt your mental health. Seek trusted information, such as the ministry of health shared directive, at specific times to take practical steps to protect yourself and loved ones. Take breaks from social media and mute triggering keywords and accounts.
5. Get enough sleep
Ninety percent of depressed people struggle with sleep, which is likely to increase with fears over the coronavirus. Good quality sleep is a form of overnight therapy and increases the chance of handling the stress effectively. Try to wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. Achieving eight hours of sleep, taking a hot bath and having no screen time two hours before bedtime will also help.
6. Talk openly about mental health
Some people might feel that talking about their depression and anxiety requires no additional attention during these times – people should be encouraged to talk about their feelings. Various support helplines are available as well mental health services, most of whose information can be found online. If you need to talk to someone, get in touch with a mental health specialist or contact the hotline as directed by the ministry of health.
7. Avoid tobacco, alcohol and drugs.
If you smoke tobacco, you're already at higher risk of lung disease. Because COVID-19 affects the lungs, your risk increases even more. Using alcohol to try to cope can make matters worse and reduce your coping skills. Avoid taking drugs to cope, unless your doctor prescribed medications for you.
8. Relax and recharge.
Set aside time for yourself. Even a few minutes of quiet time can be refreshing and help to quiet your mind and reduce anxiety. Listen to music, or read, cook or listen to a book — whatever helps you relax. Select a technique that works for you and practice it regularly.
You can expect the stress to fade when the pandemic is over, but stress won't disappear from your life when the health crisis of COVID-19 ends. Continue to be mindful of your mental health and follow these tips to take care of your mental wellness and increase your ability to cope with life's ongoing challenges.