Millions of us are struggling to go back to our everyday life during this life-altering Covid-19 pandemic. The uncertainty over our health, jobs, finances, and relationship, among many, have taken a massive toll on our psychological well-being.
According to a new World Health Organisation (WHO) survey, the pandemic has disrupted or halted critical mental health services in 93% of countries worldwide while the demand for mental health increases.
Many people are facing increased levels of alcohol and drug use, insomnia, and anxiety. Meanwhile, Covid-19 itself can lead to neurological and mental complications, such as delirium, agitation, and stroke. People with pre-existing mental, neurological, or substance use disorders are also more vulnerable to the coronavirus infection, according to the WHO.
"Good mental health is fundamental to overall health and well-being," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO. To address the issue, "World Mental Health Day" is observed on October 10 every year.
There are some mental strength exercises that one can follow to stay mentally healthy during a pandemic or any crisis moment.
1. Grieve, without shame
We all grieve in one way or another. The best thing to do as we continue to heal, is to "try and normalise it" said Amanda White, a licensed US therapist.
"Now is the time to share what you are feeling with others — family, friends, on social media, or wherever you feel safe doing so. We are collectively grieving, and the shared experience in knowing you are not alone will help the healing process."
And don't feel ashamed of your emotions. "Shame often acts as this binding agent over the deeper emotions that are going on, and it stops ourselves from feeling the deeper emotions that are going on," said White.
2. Give emotions name
Studies show that simply labeling our feelings takes a lot of the sting out of them. Saying, "I'm sad," or acknowledging "I'm really anxious right now," will help us to feel less sad or less anxious. It's a simple way to feel better fast.
Of course, naming emotions can be tough for the person who never tried it. Figuring out how you are feeling — especially when you are experiencing several emotions at once — can feel overwhelming at first. But it gets easier with practice.
Whether you say how you're feeling out loud, or you just think it silently in your head, check in with yourself a few times a day to name your emotions. It can help you make sense of the emotional turmoil you might be experiencing right now, and instantly reduce some of your sufferings.
3. Argue with direful thought
Many of the things we think are not true. Also, there is a good chance to get swept up into believing the lies our brain tells us — especially during a crisis.
When you catch yourself making catastrophic predictions about the horrors of the pandemic or any unpleasant situation you are going through, argue the opposite. List all the reasons why those things are not likely to occur.
Debating both sides of the argument can help you see that your catastrophic predictions are not certain to happen. There is also a chance that things will turn out better than you are predicting. This can help you develop a more realistic outlook, which can calm your emotions and help you make the best decisions.
4. Try some mood boosters
When we are in a good mood, we likely do things that make us feel happy such as listening to upbeat music, reading a book or anything. However, when we feel down, our activities are likely to match low mood and decreased energy. We might sit on the couch and watch TV, or may mindlessly scroll through social media. These sorts of activities will keep us stuck in a bad mood.
The key to feeling better is to do the activities we usually do when we feel happy. In therapy, those things are called "mood boosters". Thought it is not easy to do fun things when we feel down. But if we try to change our behavior, the feelings will often follow.
Of course, mood boosters can be a little harder during this pandemic time as we cannot meet up with your friends. So it may take a little creativity to find the activities that make us happy.
5. No motivation? Use 10-minute rule
When you are struggling to get yourself going, commit to doing a task for just 10 minutes. Whether it is a boring report or a major cleaning project, tell yourself you can quit at the 10-minute mark.
There is a possibility that you will choose to keep going after that 10 minutes plan. Getting started is usually the hardest part. Once you get going, it is much easier to keep going.
6. Schedule time to worry
If you are worried about the increasing number of rape incidents occurring in the country or the Covid-19 death tolls, it is perfectly all right. But worrying can consume you and make it hard to function. And it would not do you or anyone else any good.
To solve the problem, set aside 15 minutes each day to worry. Put it in your calendar. And when your "worrying time" rolls around, worry your heart out. When your time is up, tell yourself that your worrying time is over, and move on to another activity.
With practice, you can learn to contain your worries to just 15 minutes a day — and prevent them from taking over all your time. According to a study, people who established a "worry time" experienced significant decreases in their anxiety.
7. When whole world seems mean, show kindness
When you witness people treating one another in an unkind manner, it is easy to start thinking the whole world is mean. To stop yourself from concluding this, do something kind.
Research has found that acts of kindness leads to increased happiness, and increased happiness leads to more acts of kindness. It's a simple but effective way to create a positive cycle in your life.
So whether you send a surprise gift to someone you love, or you leave a kind comment on someone's social media account, doing nice things can make your world — and someone else's — a much brighter place right now.
8. Don't grumble, practice gratitude
Sometimes we lose ourselves in too much negativity. But, focusing on how unfair and unfortunate the situation is will drain every ounce of joy you have left.
Studies show gratitude boosts happiness levels. So think about all the things you have to be thankful for.
Spend a few minutes each day experiencing and expressing your gratitude. Send someone a thank you letter, write in a gratitude journal, or just spend a few minutes thinking about all the things you feel grateful for — even during the pandemic. By doing these things, you'll improve your psychological well-being.
The article was prepared based on information from NBCNews and Business Insider