Mindfulness: The master key to mental wellness during the COVID-19 lockdown
Having worked for causes like gender sensitivity, children and women welfare and human trafficking, I am an activist committed to spreading awareness on the significance of mental health
COVID-19, what havoc the deadly virus has created! It is a crisis that has affected every aspect of our lives. Everybody seems to be putting up a positive and spirited fight against the fatal pandemic. However, as the situation worsens with each passing day, one is likely to feel anxious, confused, overwhelmed and powerless. These feelings of distress can occur even if you are not at a high risk of getting sick.
Hence, during these difficult times, it is important to take care of your mental health. Mindfulness and being considerate towards your mental wellness should be the way to live and can be summed up as follows:
1. Work on your anticipations and apprehensions:
Firstly, accept the fact that this pandemic will bring some difficulties with cognitive and emotional overload. Distraction, lack of concentration and low motivation may take some time to deal with.
Go easy on yourself. As we settle into this new lifestyle of work from home and isolation, we need to set realistic goals for others and ourselves.
2. Work on your lifestyle to reduce stress:
Sleep Well – For your good mental health and well-being, prioritize your sleep. Maintain a routine around your wake-up time and practice sleep hygiene. Those who have been compromising on their nap due to their hectic lifestyles, now is the time to regulate it.
Eat Right – Be conscious of staying away from smoking, alcohol and other substances. It is potentially damaging as it affects your immunity.
Exercise – It will lower your stress levels, help you to better regulate your emotions and improve your sleep.
Planned Routine – Structure helps to manage anxiety and will help you adapt more quickly to this current reality. Create clear distinctions between work and non-work time, ideally in both your physical workspace and your mental space.
4. Work on your interests: Find something to do that is not work and is not virus-related; find something that brings you joy. Working in short bursts with clear breaks will help you maintain clarity of thoughts.
5. Work on your red flags
Identify key thoughts and physical sensations that contribute to your chain of distress and feelings of being overwhelmed. There is not much that we can control, but we can keep a check on the way we talk to ourselves i.e. our internal dialogue during these challenging times. It can either provide us with a buffer or magnify our distress. Understand that this pandemic will cause stress to many of us. Hence, one cannot be their best selves all the time.
|Why can’t I concentrate||Frustration, worry, sadness||Tension, upset stomach, jitters||Compulsively checking the latest COVID statistics|
Each of these amplifies the negative emotional spirals. Break the chain and you will benefit.
6. Do Connect:
Though we are all in social isolation, we need not feel alone. We all have a need to connect with others for our mental as well as our physical health. Find out virtual forums, such as online book clubs, where you can contribute and participate in positive conversations. Make a call to friends, families and reach out to those who might be particularly isolated.
Remember to be compassionate with yourself and with others! Do not hesitate to ask for help or reach out when someone asks for help.
7. Work on your mind:
Stay in the present. Take each day as it comes and focus on the things you can control. Mindfulness and meditation can be helpful to reduce physical symptoms and enhance wellbeing.
Use voluntary breathing – breathe in for counts of two, hold for two, breathe out for two. Repeat by increasing the count and the number of cycles to relax.
8. Work on your behaviours:
There is a common belief that it takes 21 days to break an old habit and form a new one. We have a 21-day lock down to break the spread of COVID-19 and eventually bring back the healthy times for our country.
Let us use this opportunity to not only defeat Corona but also work on habits that we always wanted to get rid of or change and adopt a new one.
Let us choose to work on either –
- A behaviour that you want to get rid of in these 21 days.
- A behaviour that you want to inculcate in these 21 days.
Which habit are you going to choose? The only challenge here is that you are not supposed to step out of the house; the only condition is self-regulation i.e. dedication. Happy beginning!
I hope that we will utilise this stressful time to improve our personal growth by embracing good mental health and well-being strategies. By asking for help when required, we can, not only protect ourselves but also those around us.
The writer is Psychologist (Counsellor), Student Health Services, UPES.