"The more that you read,
the more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
the more places you'll go.

Dr. Seuss,  I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

How to Take Care of Your Emotional and Mental Health During a Pandemic

“It's up to you today to start making healthy choices. Not choices that are just healthy for your body, but healthy for your mind.” - Steve Maraboli

While people from all over the world deal with the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic, many of us are  feeling stressed and anxious. The fear of getting COVID-19 plus the uncertainties we feel about lockdown, quarantine and other restriction measures that are in place to contain the virus can take a toll on our emotional and mental health.

Staying at home can be a good thing but it can also be bad for a lot of people whether staying at home with others or isolated alone. However, like it or not, we have to follow rules to protect ourselves, our loved ones, our community and our country. We have to stay home in order to save lives!

Many psychologists confirm that uncertainties caused by this pandemic to people’s personal and professional life could lead to disorders like anxiety and depression. People are forced to cope with the sudden change in their daily routine and this can be difficult to deal with for those who are not used to being tied at home for a long time.

So, how can we overcome the next 3 weeks or the next 3 months under lockdown and or quarantine without losing our minds? How do we keep our mental and emotional sanity intact and healthy during a crazy time like this?

If you're feeling anxious about the situation, struggling with the lockdown or just want some pointers to help with working from home, below are tips that can get you through this stressful time and cope during the coronavirus pandemic:

1. Acknowledge your feelings.

They are valid so don’t try to bury them. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about feeling whatever it is that you’re feeling now. You are not overreacting. It is all but natural to be stressed out, anxious, scared and lonely at times like this. You’re feeling what you need and want to feel at this point and that’s absolutely fine.

2. Put the spotlight on the things that you can control and control what you want to pay attention to.

For example, you can focus on making sure you’re always washing your hands properly, being aware of what you touch if you’re out in public, being keen on social distancing (6 feet away from other people outside your bubble), taking your vitamins, and making sure that your family is healthy and happy.

3. Eat well.

Food can have a long lasting effect on our emotional and mental health. And the best thing you can do for your body right now is to nourish it and keep it healthy. Healthy food will do wonders for your mental health. A diet that’s good for your physical health is also good for your emotional and mental health. A healthy, balanced diet should include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy, lean protein and limited amounts of sodium, saturated fat and added sugar.

4. Exercise even if you don’t have your own gym at home.

If there’s a will there’s a way. For example, you can jump rope with just an imaginary rope. Go up and down your stairs. If you have a garden, you can do gardening which is a good exercise as well. Be creative and find ways to keep moving even while you’re indoors. There’s no shortage of workout videos on YouTube so take advantage of those.

5. Sleep well.

Sleep at the right same time everyday. Be consistent with your bedtime. It’s important to switch off even when you’re staying at home for an extended period of time.

6. Try and still establish a daily routine to get you through the day even if you’re staying at home.

That way, you can still strike the balance between vigilance and the need to maintain some normalcy in your life. Follow a daily schedule whether it’s preparing breakfast in the morning, meditating, sleeping, etc. Treat your time as if the lockdown was not in place, with a routine for each daily task you want to assign yourself and others in the household. Write down that schedule and stick to it.

7. Limit your media consumption to only a few reliable and trusted sources.

Excess information can clog your brain and seeing every viral update won’t make you feel better, especially if it’s fake news. Furthermore, even if it’s legit news, it’s not healthy to fill your mind up with only coronavirus information the whole day. You can try a new hobby maybe or work on household projects that you didn’t have time to work on prior to the pandemic.

8. Stay connected.

Reach out to your loved ones and friends and ask them how they are doing. Check on your employees (if you employ people) and find ways to support them. Use the power of technology. Now is one of the best times to utilize technology in reaching out to loved ones and friends who are far from us. If you’re locked down with family members, now is the perfect time to reconnect and bond but also don’t forget to give each other some space (physical, emotional and mental).

9. Reach out online or by phone to emotional and mental health professionals in your area if you experience difficulty in coping, like when you have trouble sleeping or eating, or in helping yourself or the household.

10. Be positive and know that despite the current dire circumstances:

  • Many people who contract COVID-19 will recover.
  • Scientists and experts are working around the clock to come up with a cure and vaccine for COVID-19.
  • There is help from different sectors -  government, non-government and private sectors. Most likely there is even help from your neighbors or from friends and loved ones. If help does not arrive voluntarily, please ask. You are not alone!
  • We are in this together. We’re here together to keep each other physically, emotionally and mentally well. We’re here together to lift each other up even if we’re keeping a social distance.

11. Finally, take it one step and one day at a time. 

Let’s focus our attention on the immediate future rather than looking too far ahead into the weeks, months and years to come.

The measures in place are temporary and not forever. So while it may be stressful now there are better times on the horizon.