Life in quarantine: Tips to manage your mental health

By Mikaela Perez, UN SDSN Youth Philippines Volunteer | Published on August 7, 2020 10:07:10 AM

Life is a challenge that we face day by day even before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as the global pandemic worsens, we are forced to embrace some changes brought by this health crisis—staying at home due to the lockdown, following strict quarantine measures, risking our livelihoods and our loved ones, and the list goes on.

To ensure our overall health and well-being, we must first acknowledge that this pandemic will take a major toll on our mental health. Accepting this fact will allow us to understand and learn how to address our emotions properly—whether they may be overwhelming stress, fear and anxiety, loneliness and depression, and other mental implications we may experience along the way.

As we adapt to the ‘new normal’, here are some coping tips and strategies for us to better take care of our mental health:

1. Stay connected but set time to unplug

For safety reasons, we must practice both physical and social distancing, but this does not mean that we should isolate ourselves at home. Connect with your family and keep in touch with your friends, colleagues and other people who matter, because these virtual interactions are necessary to make up for your regular social activities.

Experiencing this global event during the Information Age means extensive coverage of information. Given that information overload can be overwhelming, try to do a digital detox from time to time, because we can only take so much. Stay informed while keeping your sanity by setting a time daily or weekly to watch, listen, or read news from reputable sources. Consequently, the spread of fake news during this time worsens the situation as it causes further confusion to many. Take this time to develop critical literacy and help fight the spread of fake news.

2. Find the balance between work and rest

Before this pandemic, we usually spent most of our time stuck in traffic and occupied in our daily lives. Staying home allows us to squeeze in some time to learn new skills and hobbies that can serve as outlets to keep ourselves busy. At the same time, it’s completely normal to do nothing simply because you don’t have the capacity to be as productive as before. Take this time to unwind and just be alive because you are not obliged to come out of this quarantine with anything.

We are still far from normalcy and we are just adjusting to our ‘new normal’—work from home, distance learning, etc.— yet this also means that it can sometimes blur work-life boundaries. However, we must build and preserve boundaries as an act of self-care and self-respect.

3. Take care of your mind, body, and soul

To regain control of our lives, create a new realistic daily routine. Aside from getting enough sleep at night, engaging in physical activities at home such as exercise or household chores, and eating healthy and balanced meals, we must also set aside time for ourselves to relax our minds; try to do yoga, prayer, meditation or any mindfulness practice that works for you. Also, consider consuming “feel good” content such as movies, music, books or reading positive quotes to improve and uplift your mood.

4. Doing good feels good

Helping others can help you as it benefits your mental health. We are all living under different circumstances and some people need to work twice as hard during this time to fulfill more roles and make ends meet. If you have the privilege or you are in a position to help, now is the time to reach out to share your blessings to the people who are greatly affected by the pandemic—vulnerable groups, workers who lost their jobs, health workers, and everyone else who’s trying to get by. Remember that a little goes a long way and you can help the community and inspire others to do the same by volunteering, donating and/or supporting the initiatives of different organizations.

5. Break the stigma and raise awareness

We must continue to emphasize the fact that mental health is equally as important as one’s physical health. Through this, we can encourage more people to talk about what they feel openly without fear of judgment and we, ourselves, can get better at expressing and understanding our emotions as well.

If you feel like your emotions are causing problems and affecting your daily life routine, don’t hesitate to seek help when you need it. You know yourself better than anyone else. You may opt to talk to: someone you trust; someone in your faith community; or contact your employer or health care provider to ask for a referral to a mental health professional.

You may also reach out to organizations offering free counseling services (http://www.silakbo.ph/help/) or get in touch with a mental health professional through the National Center for Mental Health 24/7 Health Crisis Hotline: 0917-899-USAP(8727) or 989-USAP(8727).

Regardless of whether we will go back to ‘normal’ or adjust to the ‘new normal’, what matters the most is how we carry ourselves despite these uncertainties. At the end of the day, we cope differently, and our feelings are real and valid. For now, let’s do our best to stay safe and alive by cooperating and following the community guidelines, but we must also remain critical as citizens so that we can overcome this global crisis together.

Sources:
National Center for Mental Health. (n.d.) NCMH ADVISORY Maintaining Mental Health and Wellbeing [Illustration].
http://www.ncmh.gov.ph/images/pdf/docs/ncmhcovid19publicadvise.pdf

Haycraft, Daniel Martin. “Break the Stigma: Seeking Help for Mental Health.” Adventist Health, 5 May 2020,
https://www.adventisthealth.org/blog/2020/may/break-the-stigma-seeking-help-for-mental-health/

“Looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak.” Mental Health Foundation, 30 Jul 2020,
https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/coronavirus/looking-after-your-mental-health-during-coronavirus-outbreak

“COVID-19: How to Manage Your Mental Health during the Crisis.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2 Apr. 2020,
www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/mental-health-covid-19/art-20482731

Graphic by:
Czarina Kinkito
Volunteer, Data Presentor
UN SDSN Youth Philippines