By Camille M Quamina, Psychologist. “Many of us are already treating with mental struggles such as depression and anxiety in varying degrees. This can make this time even more difficult to cope with.” See recommendations on coping with mental health during Covid time.
How suddenly and drastically all of our lives have changed has been quite a surreal experience. Simultaneously though, it has also been a uniting experience. There is some solace in knowing that everyone who is on this planet right now is experiencing a pandemic.
Challenges to Mental Health during Covid
Low Tolerance for Uncertainty
Covid-19 represents uncertainty. We have no clear idea of when things will resume as per usual. Some of us usually function best when we have a clear plan or a checklist of some sort. So, it can feel chaotic and overwhelming now that Covid-19 has essentially scrapped all plans.
Pre-existing Mental Struggles
Many of us are already treating with mental struggles such as depression and anxiety in varying degrees. This can make mental health during Covid even more difficult to cope with. It may be quite challenging to self-isolate to a mind that is usually a hostile environment.
Inability to Practice our usual Coping Mechanisms
We are all going through one of the most stressful times in our collective history and are unable to use our usual coping mechanisms. Whether it was going for a run or going to catch a movie; the activities that served to help us de-stress are no longer viable options.
There is fear over catching this virus, the state of the economy, job security, debt burden and the potential increase in the loss of life from this disease, to name a few. The thing with the unknown is that it is where fear originates and as mentioned before Covid-19 represents uncertainty.
Unique Challenges for Healthcare Workers
This pandemic presents some very unique and tough challenges for our healthcare workers. They did “sign-up” to help save lives but were never told that this would mean putting their own life and that of their loved ones at risk. Not everyone wants the opportunity to play the hero role. So, this must stir up some really complex emotions such as guilt, fear and anger.
Recommendations for Coping with Mental Health during Covid
1. Introspection or Reflection
Our experience of anything is based on our individual value and belief systems. Peace can come when we remember that tough emotions are a result of our own narratives on events. We need only be brave and introspect; that is, explore the beliefs and values that make whatever it is scary to you and challenge yourself to see things more objectively.
2. New Coping Mechanisms
Now is the perfect time to explore new coping mechanisms to replace those that may be challenging to do now. Activities such as deep breathing, adult colouring and reframing thoughts can be very efficient at this time. You can also enjoy the process of finding new ways to make usual coping mechanisms doable under this new socially distanced world. Basically, flexibility will be your friend.
3. Establish New Routines
The sudden break from our usual routines has been challenging. One can become overwhelmed and panicked very easily with no structure. The predictability of a routine can be a reminder that a lot more is under your control and power than it may have felt like initially.
4. Get Reliable Information
Panic usually occurs where there is a lack of information. Please try to obtain more information from reliable sources. This will challenge and correct misconceptions that could be contributing to distress.
5. Confront and Challenge Fears
Uncertainty can breed fear as many people tend to be wary of the unknown. The things that we usually fear are our worst-case scenarios and they are usually so-called because they are things that we believe we cannot overcome. It is important to remember that everything that you previously thought would break you did not. Yes, it may have been painful! Yes, it may have taken a long time to heal! Yet here you are with many happy moments since then!
6. Incorporate Mindfulness Practices
Mindfulness = Presence in simple terms. So, mindfulness asks that you allow yourself to be truly present in every moment. Regret, guilt, grievances, sadness, bitterness and non-forgiveness are signs that you are defining yourself by your past. Please remember you are not your mistakes and they definitely do not define you. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry and all forms of fear means that you are living too much in the future – and that you believe the worst is possible.
7. Trust the process
There are some things that we are quite content trusting the process with. Trusting that your eyes will continue to move as you read this is a good example of this absent-minded kind of trust. It is only difficult to trust the process when we need to control events. We only need to control events when we have forgotten that we control our experience of events. The good news is that letting go of this fear is totally under your power.
Let’s begin to cope with mental health during Covid time
It can be a bit difficult to implement these strategies but this is where the therapeutic process can be quite helpful. Feel free to contact me if you are interested in beginning this process.
Camille M Quamina
Tel: 1 868 495 6285
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