MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLNESS TIPS DURING COVID-19

At the start of this year the

ideal of companies asking all

their employees to work from

home would have been

unthinkable. Never mind the

impossibility of social

distancing and quarantine

becoming

commonplace. Coronavirus has

change the face of work

worldwide. It’s a new kind of

normal for everyone.

People are generally very

social, and prolonged periods

of isolation can start to wear

on our mental health and

wellness. It can be an issue for

not only people with

pre-existing mental health

concerns, but also those in

seemingly good psychological

health.

As we continue to face ongoing

prospects of social distancing

or quarantine, we will have to

start establishing our own

ways of preserving our mental

health at home.

Dr Eileen M Feliciano is a

doctoral level Psychologist in

New York State with a Psy.D. in

the specialities of School and

Clinical Psychology. After

having thirty-one sessions this

week with patients where the

singular focus was COVID-19

and how to cope, Dr Feliciano

decided to consolidate her

advice and make a list that we

hope is helpful to all. It is

republished below, with Dr

Feliciano’s permission.

MENTAL HEALTH WELLNESS TIPS FOR QUARANTINE

1. Stick to a routine

Go to sleep and wake up at a

reasonable time. Write a

schedule that is varied and

includes time for work as well

as self-care.

2. Dress for the social life you want, not the social life you have

Get showered and dressed in

comfortable clothes, wash your

face, brush your teeth. Take

the time to do a bath or a

facial. Put on some bright

colours. It is amazing how our

dress can impact our mood

and mental health.

3. Get out at least once a day, for at least thirty minutes

If you are concerned of contact,

try first thing in the morning,

or later in the evening, and try

less travelled streets and

avenues. If you are high risk or

living with those who are high

risk, open the windows and

blast the fan. It is amazing how

much fresh air can lift your

spirits and improve your

mental health.

4. Find some time to move each day, again daily for at least thirty minutes

If you don’t feel comfortable

going outside, there are many

YouTube videos that offer free

movement classes. And if all

else fails, turn on the music

and have a dance party!

student-excited-about-summer-job

5. Reach out to others, you guessed it, at least once daily for thirty minutes

Try to do FaceTime, Skype,

phone calls, texting — connect

with other people to seek and

provide support. Don’t forget

to do this for your children as

well. Set up virtual playdates

with friends daily via

FaceTime, Facebook Messenger

Kids, Zoom, etc — your kids

miss their friends, too!

6. Stay hydrated and eat well

This one may seem obvious, but

stress and eating often don’t

mix well, and we find

ourselves over-indulging,

forgetting to eat, and avoiding

food. All of which affects our

mental health. Drink plenty of

water, eat some good and

nutritious foods, and challenge

yourself to learn how to cook

something new!

7. Develop a self-care toolkit

This can look different for

everyone. A lot of successful

self-care strategies involve a

sensory component (seven

senses: touch, taste, sight,

hearing, smell, vestibular

(movement) and

proprioceptive (comforting pressure).

An idea for each: a soft blanket

or stuffed animal, a hot

chocolate, photos of vacations,

comforting music, lavender or

eucalyptus oil, a small swing or

rocking chair, a weighted

blanket. A journal, an

inspirational book, or a

mandala colouring book is

wonderful, bubbles to blow or

blowing watercolour on paper

through a straw are visually

appealing as well as work on

controlled breath. Mint gum,

Listerine strips, ginger ale,

frozen Starburst, ice packs,

and cold items are also good

for anxiety regulation.

For children, it is great to help

them create a self-regulation

comfort box (often a shoe-box

or bin they can decorate) that

they can use on the ready for

first-aid when overwhelmed.

Whatever you put into your

toolkit make sure it speaks to

you on a personal level. It is

your mental health and you

know what works best for you.

8. Spend extra time playing with children

Children will rarely

communicate how they are

feeling but will often make a

bid for attention and

communication through play.

Don’t be surprised to see

therapeutic themes of illness,

doctor visits, and isolation play

through. Understand that play

is cathartic and helpful for

their mental health — it is how

they process their world and

problem solve, and there’s a lot

they are seeing and

experiencing in the now.

9. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and a wide berth

A lot of cooped up time can

bring out the worst in

everyone. Each person will

have moments when they will

not be at their best. It is

important to move with grace

through blow-ups. To not show

up to every argument you are

invited to. Not hold grudges

and continue disagreements.

Everyone is doing the best they

can to make it through this.

Preserve your mental health

by not giving into negative

emotions.

10. Everyone find their own retreat space

Space is at a premium,

particularly with city living.

It is important that people

think through their own

separate space for work and

for relaxation. Identify a place

where everyone can go to

retreat when stressed –

especially for children. You can

make this place cosy by using

books, music, blankets, pillows,

scents, cushions, scarves,

beanbags, tents, and “forts”.

It is good to know that even

when we are on top of each

other, we have our own special

place to go to be alone.

11. Expect behavioural issues in children and respond gently

We are all struggling with

disruption in routine, none

more than children, who rely

on routines constructed by

others to make them feel safe

and to know what comes next.

Expect increased anxiety,

worries and fears, nightmares,

difficulty separating or

sleeping, testing limits, and

meltdowns.

Do not introduce major

behavioural plans or

consequences at this time —

hold stable and focus on

emotional connection.

12. Focus on safety and attachment

We are going to be living for a

bit with the unprecedented

demand of meeting all work

deadlines, home-schooling

children, running a sterile

household, and making a

whole lot of entertainment in

confinement. We can get

wrapped up in meeting

expectations in all domains,

but we must remember that

these are scary and

unpredictable times for children.

Focus on strengthening the

connection through time spent

following their lead, through

physical touch, through play,

through therapeutic books,

and via verbal reassurances

that you will be there for them

in this time.

13. Lower expectations and practice radical self-acceptance

We are doing too many things

in this moment, under fear and

stress. This does not make a

formula for excellence.

Instead, give yourself what

psychologists call “radical

self-acceptance”: accepting

everything about yourself,

your current situation, your

mental health right now, and

your life without question,

blame, or pushback. You

cannot fail at this — there is no

roadmap, no precedent for

this, and we are all truly doing

the best we can in an

impossible situation.

14. Limit social media and COVID conversation, especially around children

One can find tons of

information on COVID-19 to

consume, and it changes

minute to minute. The

information is often

sensationalized, negatively

skewed, and alarmist.

Find a few trusted sources that

you can check in with

consistently, limit it to a few

times a day, and set a time

limit for yourself on how much

you consume (again 30

minutes tops, 2-3 times daily).

Keep news and alarming

conversations out of earshot

from children — they see and

hear everything and can

become very frightened by

what they hear.

15. Notice the good in the world, the helpers

There is a lot of scary, negative,

and overwhelming

information to take in

regarding this pandemic.

There are also a ton of stories

of people sacrificing, donating,

and supporting one another in

miraculous ways. It is

important to counter-balance

the heavy information with the

hopeful information.

16. Help others

Find ways, big and small, to

give back to others. Support

restaurants, offer to grocery

shop, check in with elderly

neighbours, write

psychological wellness tips for

others — helping others gives

us a sense of agency when

things seem out of control.

17. Find something you can control, and control the heck out of it

In moments of big uncertainty

and overwhelm, controlling

your little corner of the world

helps you control your mental

health. Organise your

bookshelf, purge your closet,

put together that furniture,

group your toys. It helps to

anchor and ground us when

the bigger things are chaotic.

18. Find a long-term project to dive into

Now is the time to learn how to

play the keyboard, put

together a huge jigsaw puzzle,

start a 15-hour game of Risk,

paint a picture, read the Harry

Potter series, binge watch an 8-season show,

crochet a blanket, solve a

Rubix cube, or develop a new

town in Animal Crossing.

Find something that will keep

you busy, distracted, and

engaged to take breaks from

what is going on in the outside

world

Scrabble tiles spelling out plan

19. Engage in repetitive movements and left-right movements

Research has shown that

repetitive movement (knitting,

colouring, painting, clay

sculpting, jump roping etc)

especially left-right movement

(running, drumming, skating,

hopping) can be effective at

self-soothing and maintaining

self-regulation in moments of

distress.

20. Find an expressive art and go for it

Our emotional brain is very

receptive to the creative arts,

and it is a direct portal for

release of feeling. Find

something that is creative

(sculpting, drawing, dancing,

music, singing, playing) and

give it your all. See how

relieved you can feel

afterwards. Gauge the

difference in your mental

health. It is a very effective

way of helping kids to emote

and communicate as well!

21. Find lightness and humour in each day

There is a lot to be worried

about, and with good reason.

Counterbalance this heaviness

with something funny each

day: cat videos on YouTube, a

stand-up show on Netflix, a

funny movie — we all need a

little comedic relief in our day,

every day.

22. Reach out for help — your team is there for you

If you have a therapist or

psychiatrist, they are available

to you, even at a distance. Keep

up your medications and your

therapy sessions the best you

can. If you are having difficulty

coping, seek out help for the

first time. There are mental

health people on the ready to

help you through this crisis.

Your children’s teachers and

related service providers will

do anything within their

power to help, especially for

those parents tasked with the

difficult task of being a whole

treatment team to their child

with special challenges.

Seek support groups of fellow

home-schoolers, parents, and

neighbours to feel connected.

There is help and support out

there, any time of the day —

although we are physically

distant, we can always connect

virtually.

succession-planning

23. “Chunk” your quarantine, take it moment by moment

We have no road map for this.

We don’t know what this will

look like in 1 day, 1 week, or 1

month from now. Often, when

working with patients who

have anxiety around

overwhelming issues,

psychologists suggest that they

engage in a strategy called

“chunking” — focusing on

whatever bite-sized piece of a

challenge that feels

manageable.

Whether that be 5 minutes, a

day, or a week at a time — find

what feels doable for you and

set a time stamp for how far

ahead in the future you will let

yourself worry.

Take each chunk one at a time

and move through stress in

pieces.

24. Remind yourself daily that this is temporary

It seems in the midst of this

quarantine that it will never

end. It is terrifying to think of

the road stretching ahead of

us. Please take time to remind

yourself that although this is

very scary and difficult. It will

go on for an undetermined

amount of time. It is a season

of life and it will pass. We will

return to feeing free, safe,

busy, and connected in the

days ahead.

25. Find the lesson

This whole crisis can seem sad,

senseless, and at times,

avoidable. When psychologists

work with trauma, a key

feature to helping someone

work through said trauma is to

help them find their agency.

The potential positive

outcomes they can effect,

the meaning and construction

that can come out of

destruction.

Ask yourself what can each of

us learn here, in big and small

ways, from this crisis? What

needs to change in ourselves,

our homes, our communities,

our nation, and our world?

Please remember that any

information contains in this

article is for guidance only. We

are not health experts, and this

guide should never take the

place of expert professional

advice from a medical

professional. If you need any

assistance with your mental

health and wellness reach out

to a trained professional.

There are mental health

people on the ready to help

you through this crisis.

Speaking on behalf of our

global team, we appreciate

your trust and confidence in us

to support you as we navigate

through this time of

uncertainty together. We will

continue to adapt as the

situation evolves – and we

know you will do the same.

Published by Sima Sarkar

I am Anjan.I am a freelancer.I am trying to write day to day human issues.I want to highlight issues related to 'Mother Earth' as well.

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