May 07 2020. view 129
Waking up to news of increasing victims and death tolls, the constant apprehension of facing job layoffs and significant pay cuts, and even being privy to WhatsApp messages sharing unfounded rumors can be an incredibly stressful experience. The avalanche of information can be overwhelming and frightening, eventually taking an emotional toll on you. We spoke to 3 mental health experts who shared their expertise in managing stressful situations.
Psychologist, The Ohana Project
Setting realistic goals is really important. Social media might make you feel like you need to try multiple new recipes, workout for hours, and be 200% productive during work.
However, make sure you set daily goals that are realistic for you. Break up bigger tasks into smaller chunks that you can achieve quickly. Each achievement is akin to a dopamine boost in your brain, which can help you feel good. Craft out time to relax every day. Take some time to watch the sunset or rain every day. Down-time, where you allow yourself to just “be”, is so crucial now.
Try and identify a set of behaviors that help you destress and relax. Mindfulness, meditation, coloring, journaling are all helpful. Particularly gratitude journaling is a very effective activity to cope positively.
Making the mental distinction that physical distancing is not social distancing is super important. Make time to have lunch with a colleague whilst being on a voice/video call, catching up with friends after work on a group call, and trying to mirror your normal routine digitally can be helpful.
But most important is to recognize that these recommendations and suggestions aren’t rules or laws to abide by. Engage in what you’re interested in, be kind yourself, and find a pace of life that works for you.
Acknowledge that these are strange and unforeseen circumstances and don’t be too hard on yourself or compare yourself to others who are seemingly doing so much better.
Remind yourself that your old “normal” would have been crafted slowly and with many experiences and that your “new normal” will also need to be crafted with this same steady patience and experience.
Basically what’s best is to do what you feel like. And that will differ from person to person. Right now people are talking about productivity and making people feel guilty for not doing anything which is not good either. So do what you can! If that’s working from 7am to 7 pm straight or even if you’re just watching movies and chilling. Both are alright! But what I’d like to say is to be mindful of your behaviors. Doing too much of either of these is going to be counterproductive so be aware of how much of these behaviours as you are doing and what is making you feel better mentally and physically and just do that.
What works for another won’t work for you. But what I have been doing is sticking to a rough routine of sorts. So I know how my day usually will be spent. But it’s not rigid, so sometimes if I’ve allocated time for work, I might end up on Netflix sometimes. But I also make sure I finish that task. Working out with friends via social media really keeps you motivated! And doing new things like cooking new dishes and most importantly spending time with family and your pets have been great!
Crises like what we are facing right now affect everyone. Having knowledge of and experience in mental health doesn’t necessarily make you less vulnerable to stress, anxiety, loneliness, and depression. When external crises that are often out of our control happen, we feel especially vulnerable. As humans, we thrive where there is hope. Take away that hope, replace it with uncertainty and it becomes difficult for anyone, even those who are generally resilient. During this time, we are socially distanced. We can no longer engage in the activities we used to busy ourselves with. This forces us to confront ourselves and address things that we avoided previously. So, developing that ability to sit with yourself and talk to yourself in a way you would to a friend or even a client, is important. This is a great time to put our calendars and the endless to-do list and ‘just be’. Be present with yourself the way you would with someone you love. Be honest with how you are feeling. Sometimes writing it down helps.
Also, taking it easy is important. Social media constantly tells us what we should be ‘achieving’ during this time. But life doesn’t always have to be a task list. I believe doing things you like to do and to enjoy them at your own pace is important. You don’t have to always be productive. Because you have been all your adult life. Saying that, being aware of the loneliness, frustration and sadness is important. Talk to someone you trust. Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation. Take this time to reconnect with people you wouldn’t normally keep in touch with. Ask them how they are. Have a conversation. Sit with your family and this time, not with the TV running in the background. Connect with them and talk about things you usually don’t have time to talk about. It is a difficult time, but I like to look at the positive side of it. We have been given the gift of time. Use it to be present with yourself and those in your bubble.