As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the world, it has never been more important for people to show compassion and support for one another.
Infectious disease outbreaks not only have an impact on our physical health, but also our mental health.
Quarantine and social distancing have now become commonplace globally, as governments battle against the spread of coronavirus.
These isolating measures have an undeniable impact on mental wellbeing. It’s important to realise that we are in this together; no one should ever have to feel alone.
Here are a few tips for safeguarding your mental health in these uncertain times.
Try to maintain perspective
It’s normal to feel distressed and concerned about the coronavirus outbreak.
When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, remember that medical, scientific and public health experts from across the globe are working tirelessly to contain the spread of the virus and develop a vaccine as a quickly as possible.
Widespread panic can complicate these efforts, so try to remain calm and practical in your response to the pandemic – particularly when it comes to observing good hygiene habits.
In times like these, the emotional support of friends and family is essential.
If you’re in self-isolation, try and keep in touch via social media and email – or better yet, pick up the phone and have a chat to your loved ones. Video conferencing tools that you might already use at work, such as Zoom, can also be invaluable.
Only rely on reputable sources
Just as the number of people affected by the virus have spread, so have conspiracy theories and unfounded claims about it. As the first global pandemic of the social media age, misinformation surrounding COVID-19 is rampant.
Rumours and speculation can easily fuel anxiety. Instead of believing everything you read online, turn to official government bodies and healthcare organisations for trustworthy, up-to-date information.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has a Q&A on COVID-19 and a myth busters page to debunk false information surrounding the coronavirus.
Control your media intake
There is extensive news coverage about the outbreak. If you find that the news is heightening feelings of anxiety, it’s important to find a balance.
Keep informing and educating yourself, but limit your news intake if you find it’s upsetting you or your family. Try checking into the news once a day so you’re not overwhelmed.
Actively manage your wellbeing
This means eating nutritious foods (including lots of vitamins C and D, as well as zinc to support your immune system), getting enough sleep, and finding some way to move your body each day that abides by the rules of social distancing.
There are plenty of free workout videos on YouTube – many of which can be done with no equipment and from the comfort of your living room. Yoga and mindfulness are two great practices that help to relieve stress and anxiety.
Do something that makes you happy every day
Whether it be reading a book, watching a movie, baking a cake or playing with your dog – it’s important to do something that brightens your day and helps you feel a sense of normality in these uncertain times.