Here’s a definitive guide in staying sane and building your mental strength while you cope with quarantine inside as the world alters its pace outside. It’s okay to check in with yourself.
Words by Reena Mesias
Illustration by Ross Du
A changing world emerges the need for a change in plenty of other things: policies, attitudes, and priorities. One of our priorities now is our mental strength. We believe that it’s one aspect of well-being that should never be overlooked at a time like this. Taking a pulse of what’s happening in the Philippines—let alone the world—can be such an enormous task that it’s becoming so crucial to check in with ourselves often.
One in four people worldwide suffers from some sort of mental disorder. This tells you that a pandemic like COVID-19 can also be just as damaging to those who are incited with stressors like panic, frustration, grief, fears, and the uncertainty of the future. Each of us reacts to trauma and panic in different ways. But we’re sharing this because they’ve so far proven themselves to be effective remedies for us. Maybe they’d work for you, too.
1. Thrive at home affectively.
It used to be unimaginable, but self-quarantining and social distancing have now become commonplace. Take steps to thrive well, by which we mean being healthy and finding a sense of motivation at home and at “work”—from home. If you’re lucky enough to still be busy with remote work, don’t stay in one corner. Where you are is most likely your home and work base for the unforeseeable future. So make variety. Decorate and organize. Work out. Dress up (Dressing up helps your confidence and prevents you from being caught in your holed up pajamas when a sudden Zoom call happens). Maintain some semblance of structure, a well-balanced routine (e.g. break up your day and find tasks for different activities) from pre-quarantine days. If you have this energy, you’re more motivated to continue the momentum, and this will fuel your vitality for the weeks ahead. Think of this self-quarantine as a marathon, not a sprint.
2. Be kind to yourself and to others.
Being kind promotes empathy which eventually leads to a sense of interconnectedness and contentment.
Little ways that go a long way:
Share the positivity.
Radiate kind thoughts.
Do not attach COVID-19 to any nationality.
Be empathetic to those affected by the disease.
Smile at your delivery guy and give a generous tip.
Do yourself a favor by relaxing and grounding yourself in feelings of love.
Hug your dog.
Practice meditation. (The studio’s recommendation: get the Headspace app, and share it with friends)
Honor and thank the frontliners for saving lives and keeping us safe.
Call your friends and family.
Support an artist or a freelancer through this tough time.
Put your extra time to good use by donating to causes. Some of the causes we support can be found here.
3. Be proactive.
It can be upsetting to constantly hear about the pandemic and how it’s being handled by groups. While we agree, we pray that no one spirals into anxiety when we realize that there are things that are beyond our control. Instead of panicking, try to be proactive about taking responsibility for what you can control: your life and your actions. Ground yourself and reconnect with the present to bring you out of an anxiety attack. Minimize news about COVID-19 when they start to cause you distress and only refer to trusted sources or the ones that can radiate positive thoughts like SomethingPositive.co. Rely on facts, not on hearsay. Take initiative in assisting other people in their time of need if you see that other infrastructures cannot.
4. Get on [that recreational thing] you had been setting aside.
Work will still continue for some of us, and this requires a level of productivity and focus. A piece of advice if you’re still working from home: Pace yourself. Avoid burnout and set limits to your work. It’s more effective to go for reasonably human and smarter standards for yourself, so set aside time to engage in activities that give you a sense of meaning. If it means finally watching Explained over Netflix Party with friends, be kind enough to yourself to do so. If that doesn’t appeal to you, head on over to bored.solutions for some ideas to stay active, healthy, and happy. If you can and are able to, use this opportunity for inspiration and learning. Otherwise, it’s okay. Celebrate the smallest of your successes, too, like simply by getting up to greet the day.
5. Be mindful. Stay healthy.
Reflect. Take deep breaths. Let this stillness make you more aware of what is happening to the world as well as what is happening to you. As disheartening as things may seem now, now is a chance for you to refocus your attention internally. It doesn’t mean that you have to have it together all the time. Remember that whatever you are feeling is valid—and being mindful will help you move through your feelings and not live in them. Eat healthy, get plenty of sleep, exercise daily, reach out, and ask for professional support if you have to (UPD PsycServ has free telepsychotherapy sessions for everyone). Find peace in the fact that you are doing your part to flatten the curve and take some strength in it.
Sending everyone some Serious love.