Taking care of your mental health during a crisis

As I sit here writing on a Saturday morning of March 2020, it feels like we’re really living in a strange world, or strange times. And I say this, as I am trying to ignore what’s happening “in the rest of the world”. I just spent 20 minutes dancing to disco music in my kitchen and that definitely lifted my spirits.

Still, I felt the need to write a short blog post because our mental health is going to be (if not already) impacted by the events, and we have to take care of ourselves and each other.

Of course this post is being written due to the corona virus crisis that is hitting us, but I do hope that it is applicable to any type of crisis situation you might be faced with. This could be a personal one, family, work, or on a larger scale. These tips are based purely on my personal experience and what I’m trying to do for myself right now.

  • Stay calm. This is very important. Much like for fire or other evacuation instructions, it’s important to try and remain calm as much as possible. Do not get caught up in hype, hysteria and start panicking. In order to do this you can take a few moments to stop, slow down, take a step back… breathe. Regain your composure before and don’t let your mind run away with all the worrying thoughts.
  • Meditate. In order to help you stay calm, you might want to meditate. Meditation helps with your breathing and also helps you be more in control of your thoughts. You can try apps like Headspace or Calm to help you, or I’m sure there are also plenty of videos on YouTube you can find.
  • Limit your news consumption. This is of course a personal choice and some people might disagree. However, I believe that the news in time of a national or international crisis just amplifies the feeling of fear, panic and helplessness. In fact I stopped reading the news years ago because I generally felt that it only brings me negativity and sadness that I can’t do anything about. It’s important to stay up to date, but if you feel that the news is detrimental to you then just stop looking.
  • Limit your time on social media. A few weeks ago I had been feeling anxious and decided to quit Instagram (you can see more on my mental health highlights here). I had noticed that when I felt bad, being on social media made me feel worse and amplified my anxiety. In the current crisis, I feel that social media is making me feel worse by contributing to the overall sentiment of anxiety, panic and fear that is gripping the nation. The last thing I want is to get increasingly scared when I am trying to stay calm. I’m therefore staying off as much as possible.
  • Do what makes you happy. As I said at the beginning of the post, I spent 20 minutes dancing in the kitchen which significantly lifted my mood. It can be difficult to carve time for what might seem like “silly things” or unnecessary things, but they will definitely contribute to better mental health. Remember, these things are what bring you joy. Being in a good mood helps you be more resilient and be strong for yourself, and those around you who need it.
  • Carry on as normal. As much as possible it’s important to continue your regular routine. Routine and habits are important for us – even those of us who don’t make ones and prefer a bit more freedom. It helps create a feeling of normality. So if you can, carry on about your day to day and keep doing what you usually would so that you don’t get the feeling your world has turned upside down.
  • Have different topics of conversation, or don’t talk about it 24/7. Again this is quite a personal choice and if you are going through something such as a death in your family, you might want to talk about it with those close to you. However it can also be helpful to continue having the usual conversations you might have. Talking about your day, funny things that happened to you, the movie you saw, plans you have or dating tales. All of this once again helps contribute to the feeling of normality.
  • Be kind to each other. It’s quite likely that everyone is going through their own range of emotions, experiencing different problems, fears etc. Everyone still has a job and other responsibilities that are taking up their time. Remember to support each other however you can. Be patient, tolerant and respectful: everyone has different opinions and that’s ok, so long as you respect one another.
  • Be creative. If you can’t do things how you normally would, think of new ways of doing them. The waacking community has been doing dance classes on Instagram live since people can’t come together any more. This is a great idea to keep people dancing and sharing the love for their passion, all whilst staying safe. What creative ways can you think of to do things differently?

No matter what you choose to do, the most important message is to take care of your mental health. You should make your frame of mind a priority, be aware of what state of mind you’re in and how this is affecting you.

Most importantly in this current context, I wish you all to stay safe. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones and remember that nothing is forever, this too shall pass.

Published by

emmacdo

Currently working in marketing and comms in Amsterdam. Passionate about all things digital, writing, dancing, travelling and much more. Mental health blogger and advocate.

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