Look after your mental health during the COVID-19 crisis
It is normal to experience different emotions and reactions during the COVID-19 crisis. People may experience feelings ranging from fear, anger, anxiety, and sleeplessness, to skepticism, hyper-vigilance to your health, curiosity, and relief. A study conducted during the H1N1 pandemic (1)) has shown that people who held the belief that they could not protect themselves were the most likely to develop anxiety.
The overflow of information and misinformation, news reports, and actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19, might increase the level of anxiety and fear among many individuals. To manage any feelings of fear, anxiety, or anger, try to
follow the steps listed below:
- Be in control. Take the lead to protect yourself and to protect your health by following a healthy diet, exercising, and establishing a daily routine of proper sleep and rest.
- Focus on rational rather than emotional responses and engage in active problem-solving. For example, acknowledge your emotion with understanding and then tell yourself, “Understandably, I am concerned about the current situation, and I understand that worry is not an effective way to respond.”
- It is good to unwind, relax, and take breaks from COVID-19 related content. Self-care is imperative and switching off for an hour or a day is okay.
- You must maintain a strong social network to reduce the likelihood of becoming depressed. Studies have shown that people who have robust social networks are more likely to survive disasters and pandemics. Make sure you maintain your social connections through the internet, phone calls, and even browsing photos.
- Keep your brain engaged. Excessive boredom can lead to a negative mental state. Read, study, exercise, plan healthy meals, work on puzzles, and play games to keep yourself entertained and engaged.
- Keep things in perspective. Limit the time you spend watching or listening to upsetting media coverage. Take a break from watching the news and focus on the things that are positive in your life and the things you have control over.
- Practice mindfulness and acceptance. Focus on asking “what now” rather than “why.” Practice patience with yourself and others.
- Find out who is available to answer your questions and provide accurate information and guidance to you.
1.Taha S, Matheson K, Cronin T, Anisman H. Intolerance of uncertainty, appraisals, coping, and anxiety: the case of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.
Br J Health Psychol. 2014;19(3):592–605. DOI:10.1111/bjhp.12058
Iffat Elbarazi, DrPH
College of Health Sciences
Abu Dhabi University