As opposed to a plain how are you? I’ve resorted to asking: How have you been feeling lately? And if you’re really close or depending on the window of opportunity that presents itself, I go a step further to ask: how are you really really feeling? In a bid to give ample room for detailed expression. I do this because we’ve been conditioned to simply reply ‘I’m fine’ to conceal how we really feel. Aren’t we all guilty? I say guilty as charged. With the event of recent times, for some spending these days in lockdown has been a drag and for others a breeze, depending on individual lifestyle differences. Either way, adjusting to a new way of living especially one in static can take its toll on even the most introverted of us. Being one myself, the first two weeks were really just a normal for me but with the extension of the last week reality started to set in. For someone who would normally spend time indoors, I suddenly started to feel caged and had crazy cravings…I knew I had gotten to the point where my mental health was beginning to be threatened which implied that I had moved from my CENTRE and had to return fast. Some people may have gotten to the said point soon as all this brouhaha started, for others in time and others perhaps much later, all of which boils down to the one same thing; MENTAL HEALTH.
The mind being the seat of conscious and unconscious thought in close relations with the brain is saddled with key cognitive function(s). Knowing this, we ought to take better care for it to live optimal lives, but do we enough?. Mental health disorder is an illness and like all other illnesses demands for treatment/ therapy. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), one in four people are dealing with some form of mental disorder (I’d say the number should have by now increased in line with recent happenings but I do not have the statistics to back it up). So for those who fall under the spectrum, this period will be especially hard and because a CAUSE is always closely followed by an EFFECT. Sound mental health is an individual as well as a collective responsibility, so we can all help in diverse ways; being a reassuring voice, lend a hand, watch our words, encourage, be kind, share our supplies etc. Helping has a way of in turn benefitting the helper, this implies that we all heal. I do not find it mind boggling that a ‘fire’ in some town in a part of the world goes intercontinental . That’s how interconnected we are- ONE. It further buttresses the need be on the lookout for one another and be well aware that individual actions in a social world, can and will spark a chain reaction in enormous proportion that can change the entire course of humanity. Having heard countless times: maintain social distancing-in a social world is outright laughable, except you’re holed up in some Island like Tom Hanks in “Cast Away” then fine. Otherwise, this new reality begs that you conform to strict rules inorder to flatten the curve. This demands that we employ new modus operandi to do things; whether business, church, school, chill with friends. This has become our “new normal” at least for now.
It behoves us to find coping strategies to get us through. Here are some tips I’ve employed to safeguard my mental sphere.
1. Turn off the TV. While plants and animals go about uninterrupted, human activity is largely on pause. There’s scarcely anything else going on, the news is focused on reporting on the pandemic and it’s effects on individuals or the economic consequences. While you want to stay informed, get only as much information as your mental health can manage and stay off it periodically.
2. Do not be pressured in anyway to ‘perform.’ For some, this lockdown frees them of the usual hustle and bustle and accords them time to think, invent and do something revolutionary now or when this is all over, good for them- great for humanity. If yours is to simply wake each day, eat, just breathe and live, don’t let anyone project their expectations on you. We are not all the same.
3. Utilize alternative social tools as a means of staying in touch. Also, follow feel good accounts on those platforms, laugh and relax. Some viral challenges are really fun, don’t be too serious, hop on some of those.
4. Create a routine of daily tasks that aren’t too lofty. Little attainable goals that aren’t too difficult to follow through with so as to avoid feelings of disappointments if unattained.
5. Be open to communicate. Talk to your friends, spouse, lover, your children, answer their questions and allay their fears. Get to know the people around you a little more. Spend this compulsory time bonding, soon it will pass.
6. Practice Self care. Eat healthy, run a bubble bath, wax, do a facial, have your partner give you a massage, engage in breathing exercises, yoga_ these helps slow your heart rate while releasing endorphins which are essentially feel good hormones resulting in lower stress levels.
7 . PRAY; hold on to God, find Him daily.
Life will throw you off balance every now and then, it’s your duty to regain your footing, return to where you departed. Live with a little more kindness, a little more presentness, relishing in life’s little- big gifts everyday….we are coming out of this.
Written by Victoria Abella: Editor of The Happyblacky blog, writer and wellness Enthusiast.