I studied Pharmacy at university but changed my path before COVID-19 was introduced to the world; I didn’t get a chance to study about it. I know, though, what I would have studied had I continued the path: the structure of the virus, prevention, and the cure (if there was one). I know I wouldn’t have studied about how much it would affect my mental health.
Pandemics don’t only affect the world’s economy or medical services, they also leave their fingerprints all over one’s mental health. Even if you haven’t experienced a real direct impact from COVID-19, the fear, anxiety, and isolation could be factors that can affect your mental health.
Our Current Situation
After announcing COVID-19 as a pandemic, some countries set a forced quarantine procedure and some did not. As a person who’s struggling with her mental health, I know that self-isolation has done more harm than good to our mental wellbeing. I won’t deny that quarantine is funny meme material, but jokes on us, we really turned a serious circumstance waggish. It is no longer funny to see ourselves breaking down under the pressure of social withdrawal in order to avoid the contagious virus.
Effect on Mental Health
Humans are social beings and ‘being present on social media’ isn’t how it’s supposed to be. Humans need real physical contact, even if some of us are not touchy people, we can all admit that right now, we miss our friends’ hugs and the feeling of physical contact.
We have switched our mindsets from ‘living’ mode to ‘survival’ mode. We got distracted from taking care of our mental health as we think that COVID-19 will only affect us physically. This is because some of us believe that physical illness has a little to no connection to our mental wellbeing. All we want right now is to stay safe and for this to be over. Our hopes for the future turned into jitters thinking that this might not pass.
Some people even turn to their rooms because of disturbed relationships with their families. The feeling that nobody has your back or that you are stuck here, isolated and only surrounded by four walls, can trigger feelings of depression and anxiety.
After being quarantined for more than ten days, I realized that my mind no longer knows how to be productive. Maybe it’s because of believing for a long while that ‘productivity’ is associated with achieving huge materialistic goals. Or maybe because I am so anxious to the point of being surrounded by despair.
Change in Mindset and Behavior
To push my mind out of its desperation, I had to start working on my mindset. I know that it’s hard to be ‘productive’ when you’re lonely, scared, or anxious; so, I realized that I don’t have to. I realized that being affected by social media content, the funny, all these “indulging myself in food” posts, can be triggering for people who struggle with self-image and eating disorders. And the list goes on.
So, I started being ‘realistic’, instead of being a fake positive person. I started using this time to my favor, and so could you, and here’s how:
- Try not to imperil your mind to excessive media coverage of Corona. It won’t really help your mental health, but would rather make it much worse. Not to mention the importance of getting the news from official sources like the WHO because some media outlets rely on catchy scary headlines that make chills travel down your spine.
- Get involved in a routine that, a. helps you feel mini-productive, b. gives you a sense of time and place. Try to be ‘here and now’. Isolation can promote our sense of dissociation, so a routine that consists of your hobbies, like watching TV series and reading, would help you have a sense of reality somehow.
- Include in your routine some self-care activities. Self-care doesn’t only revolve around skin/hair care routine, but also includes ways to feel better about oneself like meditating and exercising. These activities give you a sense of wellbeing and help calm your anxiety a bit.
- You can also use this time wisely to get a better sleeping pattern and lifestyle; you can work on your eating and exercise habits in order to feel healthier. Lying on your bed while eating snacks will not pass time, it could rather make you feel less productive.
I acknowledge that reality isn’t the best place to subsist in right now, but I also believe that what I have mentioned above will make it a bit more bearable. Always remember that such hard times help us develop stronger versions of ourselves. My thoughts go to every single person suffering from the pandemic directly and indirectly. May it pass and may we stay safe till it does.
What do you think?
Has your mental health been affected by COVID-19? What are you doing to feel better? Tell us your thoughts in the comments down below!