2020 Mar 19
Our mental health may be bound to take a significant hit with the rampant Coronavirus scares and signs of panic across the globe. While distressing news alerts and mounting mass hysteria may result in sudden jolts of fear, stress and anxiety, these tips may help in pacifying yourself and loved ones while safeguarding your mental health amid the pandemic.
1. Limit your exposure to the news
Constantly hooked on to the news channel on TV, the radio or your smartphone with no breaks in between? Extensive news coverage on the pandemic may cause your stress and anxiety levels to skyrocket. Go offline or switch to some entertainment occasionally to strike a healthy balance. While keeping abreast of the latest information is helpful in educating yourself and others on the present situation, excessive news intake may cause unnecessary harm to both your mental and physical health.
2. Do not speculate
The widespread scares and circulation of false information that gets circulated across various mediums is a bane of our times. Avoid falling victim to rumour and unnecessary speculation and stick to reliable news sources to avoid feeling out of control. Refrain from forwarding “chain messages” with no reliable source and other false information circulated by certain groups and individuals to create fear and panic among the masses.
Q: How can I avoid being misled by false information?
Stick to reliable sources such as:
a. The Health Promotion Bureau
b. Department of Government Information Sri Lanka
Distinguish between accurate and fake news by downloading the Watchdog app or visiting their website on www.watchdog.paladinanalytics.com/
3. Take a break from social media
Browsing through social media can be triggering to those who already have an existing mental health problem. Being constantly exposed to news, potentially false information and unnecessary panic-ridden posts on newsfeeds are also likely to heighten anxiety and stress among users. If you find that certain content triggers your anxiety and stress, consider muting words, phrases and hashtags.
4. Stay connected
Surrounding yourself with the right people helps to keep oneself calm and, on the off chance, distracted. Even if you happen to be in self-isolation, use this time to connect with loved ones by telephone, email or social media. Check in on those who might be particularly vulnerable or alone during this period. Keep in mind that it is never wise to sensationalise the current situation while conversing with friends and family, as this too, can add to the panic and fear that you and others are experiencing.
5. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings
Being in self-isolation can leave you feeling stressed and anxious. Pay attention to how you feel and remember that it is okay to be feeling that way. Acknowledging your emotions is a good first step to recognising your feelings and taking care of your needs. Make sure that you find some downtime. The BBC recommends spending time with nature and sunlight if possible. Exercise regularly, stick to healthy and regular sleeping routines and engage in activities that you enjoy doing.
6. Practice mindfulness
If you are feeling out of control and are going through jolts of uncertainty and stress, know that you are not alone and your feelings are valid. Practising mindfulness is a helpful way to feel in control and be present in the moment without giving way to panic or fear. The practice is a natural quality we all have and involves being intensely aware of who you are, where you are at and what you are feeling at the moment. Going through guided breathing exercises, imagery and other methods to relax your body are some guaranteed ways to feel better.
7. Talk to your children
Children, in particular, may be left feeling vulnerable and confused during this time. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends finding positive ways for children to express their feelings, such as fear or sadness. Let them know that they are in a safe and supportive environment. Try to maintain a familiar routine and engage in creative activities, such as playing and drawing, while they are confined at home.