Are you struggling to get to sleep or waking up in the early hours? Are you more emotional than usual and prone to outbursts? Are you eating much more or less than you typically do?
All of these are signs that your mental health is being affected by stress, and there’s no doubt that this has been caused or compounded by the onset of the Corona Virus.
There’s a lot of talk about protecting our physical health right now, in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but less is being written about the fundamental effects this global pandemic is having on our collective mental health, now and into the future.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), people who may respond more strongly to the stress of this crisis include older people and those with chronic diseases, children and teens, healthcare providers and those with existing mental health conditions (including substance abuse).
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), we should seek information updates at certain times of day, not sit and endlessly consume the latest infection rates and stats from the news or social media, as this will only breed anxiety. Also be very careful not to believe or share fake news: it’s highly likely that the WhatsApp voice note your father sends you is false and will only send you into a spiral of panic. Do not be part of the problem by forwarding this on - checking the validity of every piece of information is crucial. “Facts can help to minimise fears,” says the WHO.
One way to feel better about ourselves? Checking in on others and showing that we care. Yes, it’s actually been proven that helping others out and providing support is a great way of improving your own mental health, too. Of course, this all needs to be done from a distance, but you can still send someone a voice note, write them an email, call them on the phone or set up a family Zoom call, where you all check in how everyone is feeling. Now more than ever, we need to realise the power of human connection (remotely of course!).
This includes getting enough sleep (try an afternoon nap!), eating wholesome food, making time to exercise and trying to meditate or do yoga a few times a week. In terms of diet, try and limit your intake of sugar, increase your water consumption, and add lots of nuts and seeds to your meals, as well as herbs and spices. When it comes to fitness, there are so many workouts and free classes being streamed on the Internet, so if you’ve got a good Internet connection, take advantage of these.
Unfortunately, our brains are hardwired to hold on to negative news. And during this stressful time, we are inundated with negativity. In order to counteract this, you need to channel positive thoughts, even though it may seem difficult. Share positive news stories when you find them, write three things daily that you’re grateful for, and try and enjoy the simple pleasures of slowing down and connecting with your family. If you have loved ones with you, a roof over your head, food in the fridge, and an Internet connection, you have a lot more than most people do.
We need to pay close attention to our mental wellness now more than ever, if we are to beat this virus together and emerge stronger on the other side, in order to rebuild our world.
If you need help understanding the mental health benefits offered through your medical scheme, please contact your Sasfin Healthcare Consultant today.