• Olabiyi Dipeolu

5 WAYS TO KEEP YOUR MENTAL HEALTH IN CHECK DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

According to recent research, the constant news about the Coronavirus & COVID-19 (the disease caused by the Coronavirus), has made anxiety and stress levels rise around the world. People have reported more panic attacks, anxiety attacks, and for those who already suffer from OCD, increased worry about the potential doom.[1] [2] Humans were made to be in communities, so the concept of us having to quarantine ourselves is not helping matters either as many of us are now working from home. It’s dire news, but we should not forget to maintain a healthy mental state, as this too shall hopefully pass.

Here are 5 ways to keep your mental health in check during the Coronavirus pandemic:


1. Keep informed, but stop over reacting to all things #coronavirus related



Just so that I am clear; I am not suggesting that you stop informing yourself about recent breaking health news as this is very important. What I am saying is, limit the amount of unnecessary searches and panicking. You don’t need to open every Whatsapp message your mother sends to you (my mother told me to buy garlic to protect myself….I love you mom, but no!), or constantly watch YouTube conspiracy theories about how the government created the virus in a lab to eliminate the population of red heads, or share fake news about how it was started by the Chinese lady who ate bats.[3] You need to have facts to keep yourself and your loved ones safe, but unnecessary bits of information can cause you more panic.

2. Keep your body active



Being forced to stay indoors is not pleasant. My neighbourhood is usually bustling with street cars, joggers and constant chatter, but now it’s dead silent. Our daily movement routine has been stopped, but that does not mean you should just sit and stare at devices. Stretch and exercise at home by doing push ups, lifting weights, practicing yoga (If you are like me and are not flexible at all, don’t worry, there are plenty of YouTube videos which will help you with moves). Find whatever medium helps you with keeping your body active.[4]


3. Keep your mind active



An active mind is good, while an overactive mind can be concerning. Pay attention to something other than the constant doom and gloom content. It might be a good time to learn a new hobby, or pick up guitar lessons through online videos. Sketch, journal your thoughts, catch up with loved ones or people you lost contact with, maybe concentrate on the business you wanted to start, learn to code, or like me, re-learn Spanish. Whatever you do, just use your mental energy for a positive purpose.


4. Start your mornings right, and end your days well



When you wake up, start your day right. Practice mindfulness and meditate (It’s not as hard as it sounds, it’s just being intentional about your surroundings and current situation.) If you need to limit your social media exposure for the time being, don’t hesitate to do so. Perhaps even make a list of things you need to accomplish; do whatever to get your mind in a calm and alert state before panicking.

When going to sleep, practice proper sleep hygiene; this includes no devices before bed (again, limiting excessive unnecessary virus coverage). It’s important to get your body and mind ready to sleep.

5. You might get infected by Corona, or you might not. So stick to your regular schedule. Don’t forget to be present!



We are all at risk of getting infected since the virus does not discriminate regardless of race, age, sexuality or the amount of money in your bank account. Don’t live in denial about it and do your best to follow the best practices to limit your exposure, but don’t forget to carry on living your life. Our life styles have been altered, but we can still live full lives. If you are working from home, continue to do your work, work your hours, and spend time doing what you love in the evening. Constantly waiting and fretting to be infected will diminish your happiness, cause fear, and cause panic.

In 1999 we battled the West Nile Virus, in 2003 we overcame SARS, in 2009 we got over Swine Flu, in 2014 we battled Ebola, and in 2016 we fought back against Zika. Yes, we lost many lives during those outbreaks, but we survived. Corona won’t be the last pandemic to cause mass hysteria. It is a very scary virus and the unknown realities are daunting, but life must go on. Take the necessary precautions, and practice proper hygiene. Most importantly though, take care of your mental health as we all go through this unknown time together!

Until next time,

wash your hands, keep calm, and don’t lose your marbles!

Olabiyi

[1] (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/13/anxiety-on-rise-due-to-coronavirus-say-mental-health-charities).

[2] http://theconversation.com/coronavirus-how-to-stop-the-anxiety-spiralling-out-of-control-133166

[3] https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/coronavirus-china-bat-patent-conspiracy-theory-942416/).

[4] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html

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