Covid-19 has been an unprecedented event that will have a major impact on the way we communicate, work and commute. There has never before been another situation where the majority of the population had to be isolated inside their houses for such a long duration . A large part of the population is struggling economically but an even larger part is struggling psychologically. The disruption of routine, the decrease in human contact and the fact that people are spending days inside a secluded area, can have a detrimental impact on one’s mental health.
With this post, I will in no way, try to replace the counselling a professional can provide, but what I can do is give some suggestions of habits that have worked for me and made sure I stayed sane and somewhat productive. If you feel depressed, under pressure or bad in any way please, do reach out to a friend or a professional. Mental health is really important and you should pay as much attention to it as to your physical health. Let me also say that different countries have different rules and you should always adhere to that and try to do the best in the current situation.
Tip 1: Try to get some “outside” time
There are different restrictions on how you can do that or how much of that you can do. If your country is in a very strict lockdown, obviously going out can be as simple as going to the balcony, the terrace or the window. If your country allows you to exercise outside, go for a walk! Sun and “fresh air” are really important and so is movement. They both can have a significant effect on your mood, I always feel better if I manage to do this… and worse if I don’t manage to.
Tip 2: Exercise (move your body)
Deriving from Tip No1 is my second suggestion; do you feel tired all day? are you on edge and easily irritable? I have been there and I also did not want to acknowledge the truth. You know what this comes from? Yes, this is the ideal time to start working out. I know, it feels like there is no way, that you don’t want to, that with so many things and so many worries in your head, but trust me when I say, if you manage to do that now, in a situation of crisis, you will have the mentality to continue doing that no matter what the situation is! The power of habit is a powerful one, it’s all about controlling the controllables and this honestly is something you can control, and your future self will thank you. You can combine it with Tip No1 and for example cycle outside or run, but when the weather is rubbish there are still so many options, dancing in your kitchen, doing yoga or aerobics on YouTube, even running on the spot. Ideally you want to aim for around 30 minutes a day minimum, but it doesn’t have to be all in one go, it can be a combination of the above. Also depending on your physical condition you can do varied things of different intensity, but even 10 minutes of exercise can have a massive effect on your mood. If it feels like a mountain to even do 10 minutes, start by doing 1 minute of exercise and double it every day. Anyone is able to do 1 minute of exercise and if you can do one minute you definitely can do two!
Tip 3: Control what you absorb from the media
Jumping to tip No3. It might feel like the situation is out of hand but it will feel two times worse if all you do is read articles and watch the news about it. Modern day media is looking for good engagement numbers and a dramatic preview always sells better than a normal one. Try to reduce the amount of information you get from news sites, do not read extensive facebook posts from “experts” in your friendlist. Check the news no more than once a day and set yourself a time limit – unless you’re a trader or your job depends on that- and mute anyone who is spreading panicon social media. Your mind gives back what you feed it, so make sure the input is not panic.
Tip 4: The importance of routine
Tip no 4 is to try to maintain some percentage of your previous routine. We don’t like to accept it, but we are creatures of habit. Routine feels safe and we can perform better and think better when we follow it. If you woke up at 7 normally don’t wake up at noon and if you were used to working 9-5 don’t exchange that with 8 hours of Netflix – unless you are a movie critique-. Also this is the ideal time to improve your skills, learn new ones and start passion projects. Also, try maintaining the same levels of hygiene you had before. Yes, obviously nobody will notice a sweaty shirt in a zoom call, but feeling oily and stinky all day or your nails touching the ground is definitely not going to help you stay sane and positive. Do things you were doing before and don’t let the pandemic win.
Tip 5: Positive Mindset
Even though I initially wanted to have something else as the 5th tip, writing the previous example, I could not exclude this suggestion. Try to keep a positive mindset. I know it is hard and I personally was in a really dark place when the pandemic first started, blaming everyone around me -from the government to my friends- and doing nothing all day, but trust me that leads nowhere. Our parents have survived wars, pandemics and other terrible situations and so will we. This will end. This is not the end. Economies were always shocked by events like this and recessions were always followed by booms and periods of economical blooming. The question is how are you going to come out of it. No matter how much sadness and anger you hold in, it won’t change the situation. Try to face it in a different way. Don’t allow the pandemic to win.
Tip 6: Maintain your relationships
One tip before the last one, is to maintain relationships and even create new ones. The world has moved into a more digital age and even the grandparents of people born in 00’ now have access to online connection tools. Call people you love, message them and keep in touch. Of course nothing beats human interaction and online tools are far from replacing the actual thing, but this is the era that talking to someone and connecting with someone is easier than ever before and being able to communicate with friends and family in situations of crisis is a privilege of our century.
Tip 7: Slow down
My last tip will be something that somewhat contradicts my previous tone. It is a pandemic and no matter how creative and productive you try to be, everything has slowed down. It is ok to slow down, to expect a little bit less -productivity wise- to feel a bit off or lost. It is also ok to feel sadness and to waste some time on Netflix or video games. The world has slowed down a bit and it is fine if you also do so.
Until the next time, stay safe!