From the moment the first cases of the Coronavirus (or COVID-19) were revealed, the world slipped into a state of fear, confusion and endless worry. The virus was, and still is, a huge cause for concern for many.
Unfortunately, the World Health Organization has declared that the virus is a pandemic. Things are going to change immensely over the next few months: many of us are now working from home, businesses have had to shut their doors and many countries have gone on lockdown. Living in the midst of an outbreak on a scale as large as this one can be incredibly stressful, but regardless of what happens, we must always remember to prioritise our health and wellbeing over everything else.
There was a moment last weekend where the severity of the situation just hit me. I felt drained because whenever I turned on the news, there was a story about the number of deaths and how things are just going to get worse. Reading newspapers also left me with a similar feeling. It was tough. There are days when you can’t help but worry: for yourself, your friends, your family, the world.
We are living in very challenging times but we have all got to be optimistic. This will pass.
I’ve written this guide to encourage you all to protect your mental health and wellbeing during the Coronavirus. This list isn’t exhaustive, but here are some tips that have definitely helped me over the past few weeks.
Do your own research – When it became clear that the Coronavirus was more serious than we all thought it would be, my workplace produced leaflets with information about the virus, how it can be contracted and what to do if you think you may have it. It was a simple, clear and straight to the point guide that really helped address the misconceptions that I had at the time. I was able to develop my own understanding of what Coronavirus is and I highly recommend that you do the same. Do your own research and question everything you see or hear.
A lot of us are in a very sensitive place right now and most people are listening to anybody and everybody when it comes to the latest developments. Take some time out of your schedule and read up on the Coronavirus. Take everything with a pinch of salt and be sure that whatever you read is from a credible source.
Stay calm – This seems like one of the most impossible things to do right now. For those of us who are still popping out briefly, it’s almost like you can feel the tension in the air. Everyone is on edge. In spite of it all, remaining calm has got to be a top priority. Freaking out is only going to make you feel worse, which will eventually stress you out. We all know the basic precautions that we need to take, so as long as you are doing what you are supposed to be doing, you will be absolutely fine. Another reason why I believe staying calm seems like such a reach right now is because of the media.
The media are 1000% to blame for the people’s panic. Acknowledge what scares you about corona and do your best to let it go. Check in with yourself and do this regularly. The worst thing you can do at a time like this is experience a whole heap of emotions and not have a release for them. Also, physical activity is a great stress reliever. A lot of gyms have either closed or have started cancelling classes but there are so many other ways to keep your body and your mind healthy: meditate, workout at home, go for a run. Do whatever you need to do to keep your mind at ease.
Think about what you may need – Due to the media’s endless mission to fear monger the entire population, shops are selling out of items incredibly quickly. I have spoken to people who have gone to the shops at 9am, to be confronted by rows empty shelves. Last weekend, I went to Holland and Barrett to buy Sambucol, only to be told that it had sold out. I’ve been going back and I still haven’t been able to get it. I had to settle for Vitamin C and Turmeric supplements instead. So, to put a long story short, start thinking about the essentials that you will need over the next few weeks. You may have to consider alternatives if you can’t find certain things. As for household items that are a necessity, try shopping during quieter times or perhaps going to another area.
Be positive – We are not doomed. We will get over this. Think about all the pandemics and epidemics you have seen in your lifetime. It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel because of the severity of the virus, but this will pass. If you are finding it hard to stay positive, then do something to take your mind off everything that is going on. I’m watching Drag Race from the very beginning and I have never laughed so hard – it’s so entertaining.
Something to remember is that there are people in the world who have recovered from Corona. A woman over the age of 100 in China has made a full recovery and according to reports, China have reported no new cases and a vaccine for the virus is in its developmental stages. The latter is something that we need sooner rather than later, but it is good to see that something is being done to tackle the pandemic at least.
Do something you love – One of the easiest ways to take your mind off all of the craziness that is happening right now. Find what you love and do lots of it. For those of you who are part of the quarantine crew, you will have more than enough time to work and also make time for a few new hobbies. Use your free time wisely: read a book, learn a new skill, read up on a subject or topic that has always fascinated you. Also, do check on the people that you love and care about as well: call your family and friends regularly and use your conversations to lift each other’s spirits. Try not to give into negative talk because you’ll feel a lot worse once the conversation has come to an end. Think positively.
Minimise your use of social media – Social media is one of the world’s most useful tools for sourcing information, but it is also one of the most problematic. Whenever there’s a crisis, everyone seems to be an expert. There’s a difference between having a viewpoint and expressing it and having a viewpoint and manipulating words to make those who are reading them feel uneasy and scared. A lot of people online are doing the latter and they aren’t even aware of it! If you need to take a detox, do it. We all owe it to ourselves to unplug right now.
If you are a Twitter user, you can mute any words related to the Coronavirus. You can also change your trends from ‘Trending for you’ to ‘Worldwide Trends’. Right now, the virus occupies one or two trending topic slots; you won’t be overwhelmed with articles and tweets. Additionally, do not hesitate to mute anybody whose tweeting or retweeting about the virus is adding to your anxiety. Also, if you really want to prioritise your mental health especially, reduce how many times you watch the news in a day.
A lot of us haven’t been taught to question what we see or hear. It’s a skill that comes later in life for many. As credible as news sources may be, a lot of word manipulation is at the forefront of the news we receive. It’s the media’s job to influence public perceptions by any means possible. Bare this in mind the next time you are about to go into a state of panic. Question everything!
I hope you have all found this article helpful. The most important thing we can all do is right now is stay positive and prioritise our mental health and wellbeing. This is so hard for us all but I do believe that it will pass. Sending love and light to you all.
What are you doing to stay positive during this period? Xo