Looking after your own mental health is even more important now given the uncertainty surrounding the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Perhaps, we’re still trying to adjust to the new realities of working from home, home-schooling of children, a lack of physical contact with our family members, colleagues and friends – all these changes to our routines can be challenging for all of us.
Yet, for some people, especially those with mental health conditions, adapting to lifestyle changes brought on by the COVID-19 and managing the fear of being infected with the virus can be particularly difficult. While not all mental health conditions can’t be prevented, there are a lot of things that we can do to take care of our own mental health and help others who may need help and support. In fact, there are many ways in which families can support each other and make the most of this new normal.
How to protect your family’s mental health amid COVID-19
Treatment for mental health disorders may vary from person-to-person depending on the underlying condition. Fortunately, there are a many step you can take to improve your emotional health on your own. Ahead of World Mental Health Day, Dr Sonal Anand, Psychiatrist, Wockhardt Hospital, Mira Road, Mumbai, suggests a few tips that will help you and your family re-balance and thrive amid the pandemic:
Eat right and exercise daily: You must green leafy vegetables, berries, walnuts, fatty fish with omega-3 fatty acids, turmeric, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, nuts, oranges, eggs and have green tea that is good for the brain. Drink water and stay hydrated. Say ‘NO’ to smoking and alcohol. Stay physically active and exercise as that will enable you to release feel-good chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins. Ta da, you will be able to stay happy and reduce stress. You may also opt for swimming, cycling, walking, jogging, aerobics, or any other activity that you like. To de-stress do yoga or meditation.
Stay away from self-criticism: Uplift your spirits. Do not criticize your behavior. Just respect yourself, be kind, and patient. You can do what you like for example – painting, dancing, gardening, or cooking. Stick to a proper schedule and lead a healthy life. Also, do not let people treat you badly. You deserve love and respect.
Be positive: Accept the situation and be optimistic about life. Try to battle the illness with the help of your family members. Surround yourself with people who care for me and can guide you. Open up about your feelings and communicate with people. Journaling can be a good idea to write down your thoughts or triggers and then overcome them. You can also volunteer and help others who are struggling with the same problems.
Have simple conversations: Do not roast the person who is feeling sick. Instead, ask him/her about why they are feeling low. Let them open up to you confidently. Encourage the person to live a healthy life. Be understanding and listen to their worries and concerns. Help them overcome their fears and offer them emotional support.
Don’t assume things: Avoid assuming things on your own. Do not make any diagnosis by yourself. See to it that you help your loved one to cope with the problems. Allow them to discuss at their own pace. Help them become courageous and this will, in turn, build their trust in you. Avoid pressuring the person as this will worsen his condition. Be kind and compassionate towards your loved one who is trying to cope.
Additionally, look for warning signs – if you notice symptoms such as anger, frustration, behavioral changes, or injuries then the person will need immediate attention. Ask them about the things that are bothering them and take them for counseling. Take immediate action to ensure that the person is safe.