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How to take care of your mind during the COVID-19 crisis

By Centre Minds Sponsored | 29 April 2020

Header image courtesy of Diego San (Unsplash)

Due to the recent regulations by various health authorities to maintain social distance, it is likely that loneliness, stress, and a sense of uncertainty will start accumulating. It is normal to feel worried, stressed, and anxious when we are faced with uncertain situations like the current COVID-19 pandemic, but life is all about balance, so the sooner we acknowledge and learn to take care of our mental health, the healthier and better equipped we’ll be to cope with the situation. We’ve asked a professional counsellor at Centre Minds to recommend self-care strategies that will help us cope with all the new changes we are facing.

1

Get help as needed

Simply hoping that mental health problems such as anxiety or depression will go away on their own can lead to worsening symptoms. If you have concerns or experience symptoms of worsening mental health, it may be time to seek professional help. It can be really helpful to have a chat with a qualified counsellor. Sometimes the stigma associated with mental problems makes it difficult to speak up, but chatting to a professional online can make that step much less daunting!

Centre Minds offers online and face-to-face counselling for concerns about anxiety, depression, grief, life transitions, and relationships. They provide professional support so you can build a comfortable, healing, and trust-filled relationship, within a safe and confidential environment.

One of the great advantages of online counselling is how convenient and flexible it can be. You can start a session anywhere, at any time, as long as you have a device connected to the internet. For many people, it takes away barriers they may have in accessing services such as mobility, travelling, and waiting lists—perfect for the current situation where you should avoid leaving the house as much as possible!

The video software used is HIPAA-compliant, so your session is completely secure and confidential. Online video therapy is held on a password-secure laptop, and video conferencing software uses end-to-end encryption for all meetings. With this safe space available (both figuratively and literally) at your disposal, taking care of your mental health has never been easier. See below for ways to get in touch with Centre Minds.

2

Start with your physical health

Our thoughts are closely linked with how we feel emotionally and physically. If our minds are anxious and filled with thoughts of impending catastrophe—such as, “I won’t be able to keep my family safe during this outbreak”—then this will easily cause emotional distress, even resulting in physical impacts like sleeping difficulties, poor appetite, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, and low energy levels.

Give yourself a basic sense of routine: Try to stick close to your normal sleeping schedule as if you’re going to work, even when you are staying at home. It would be great to get in some regular exercise, using dance apps or YouTube videos to keep moving around; this can help reduce anxiety and improve your mood in general. With some extra time on your hands, it’s a good idea to start planning and meal prepping for a healthy and well-balanced diet. You should also try to limit sugar and caffeine, since they make you prone to stress and anxiety.

It might seem like the best time to catch up on your Netflix list and we’re not telling you not to, but do try to limit the amount of time you spend in front of the screen each day and space it out to give your eyes some rest. You can indulge in other relaxing activities instead, such as meditation, bubble baths, or just reading a book to switch things up!

3

Work on your mental health

Now that your body is in a relatively better state, it will make taking care of your mind easier as well. The human mind is a powerful but very delicate thing, so it’s all the more important for you to understand your thought processes.

Establishing a routine is a good way to keep your thoughts in check and feel more in control, so do maintain a regular sleeping pattern and consistent meal times. For a stronger sense of structure, set aside time for exercising, for relaxing, and for working. You can also limit news exposure to cut away some stress triggers. Keeping too close an eye on everything the media has to say about COVID-19 will heighten your fears, and you could essentially even be conditioning yourself. Try to find something else to keep busy with instead, such as a hobby or a mini home project, and limit yourself to checking reliable news outlets once a day.

Change is a natural part of life, even when the change sometimes feels forced upon you. Understand that there are things simply out of your control and that adapting to accommodate the change is the best way through. A simple technique is to focus on positive thoughts, because the way you think will directly influence how you feel, just as how the way you speak or your choice of words will also influence how you think. Making the effort to put a positive spin on things can help you maintain a sense of hope and keep problems in perspective.

4

Stay connected with others

Maintaining social distance doesn’t mean you should go into social isolation! Even if you’re fully working from home, you can still get in touch with colleagues to talk about work or simply catch up. In this age of hyper-connectivity, there are so many social apps for you to use. You can use this opportunity to find connections and build on them—remember that the other party will most likely also be stuck at home just like you!

You might also want to do something for others, which could be as simple as sending a quick text to someone you haven’t spoken to in a long while, or even looking up local charities and donating what you can to help. If you know someone who can’t leave the house—for example, the elderly—consider doing a quick grocery run for them. This way, you can slip in a bit of exercise and also do some good for someone else.

If you know someone who needs to be in state quarantine, let them know that you are there for them online. Drop them a message or give them a call: These small gestures can help a lot and help yourself in turn too. Remember that we all share this world together, so we should help each other get through this hardship however you can!

5

Know what’s typical and what isn’t

Everyone reacts differently to difficult situations, and stress is a normal reaction during a crisis. But with something as large-scale as a global pandemic, multiple challenges may occur on a daily basis, and it can be too much to handle.

It’s common to experience some anxiety while coping with stressful events, changes, or situations that you have little control over, especially if they could have a big impact on your life. What you should learn to recognise is when you, or others around you, are becoming overwhelmed. You may find yourself feeling helpless, sad, angry, irritable, hopeless, anxious, or afraid. You may have trouble concentrating on typical tasks, experience changes in appetite, have body aches and pains, encounter difficulty sleeping, or struggle to face routine chores.

When these signs and symptoms last for several days in a row, making you feel miserable and causing problems in your daily life to the point where you find it hard to carry out normal responsibilities, it’s time to ask for help.

Centre Minds

Whether you are struggling with depression, anxiety, relationship issues, or a stressful life transition, there is always hope. Centre Minds’ goal is to help every client slow the swirling negative thoughts and come into balance with emotions. You can feel more hopeful, more alive, and more empowered, both at work and in the world. Visit their website for more information.

5 Tai Mong Tsai Road, Sai Kung

(+852) 5322 6674

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