Retaining your Emotional and Mental Strength during COVID-19
We all know how to keep physically healthy, increase our immunity and stay safe from the COVID-19 virus. We are following social distancing rules, washing our hands frequently and eating healthy. But what are we doing to keep ourselves emotionally and mentally healthy?
We’re all staying mostly indoors, so the physical environment is getting cleaner by the day. But our emotional environment is getting more polluted every day, with all the uncertainty, fear, and anxiety that this pandemic is causing. These feelings persist when we hear about COVID-19 cases and deaths every day. What are we doing to keep ourselves emotionally and mentally strong? It’s important to stay physically as well as mentally strong to be able to continue working, either in an essential job or from home. This article lays out a 5-point strategy to keep your emotional environment clean, so you can stay emotionally and mentally strong in the middle of this crisis.
- Practice meditation or yoga for at least an hour per day. You can’t control what’s happening in the world, but you can control yourself. By focusing on yourself, you become more aware of each part of your body (increased physical awareness) and every thought that is going on in your mind (increased emotional awareness). This allows you to feel more in control of your life. Awareness is first step in making a change – you need to know how you are, physically and emotionally, in order to know how to improve. Practicing meditation and yoga has other physical benefits as well, such as boosting immunity. These benefits are incredibly valuable, especially now, in exchange for this time commitment (only about 4% of your day). You can do this anytime of the day, but the best time to as early in the morning as possible, may be the first thing in the morning.
- Limit your intake of the news to 30 mins per day. By limiting how much time you spend watching or listening to the news, you limit the amount of emotionally charged information you consume. Almost all news these days is negative – the latest infection numbers and deaths, the lack of treatment, etc. – which pollutes our emotional environments with uncertainty, helplessness, fear, and anxiety. It’s completely understandable that you want to know what’s going on, but 30 mins per day is sufficient for this kind of update. The worst time to listen to the news is first thing in the morning — the negative feelings may be demotivating, and you won’t be at your best for the day. Similarly, it is not good to listen to the news right before bed. Scientists believe that your unconscious brain keeps thinking about the things you listen to or watch just before bed, which may result in poor sleep. The best time to listen to the news is after your day work but several hours before bed. For those working a typical 9-5 job, 5-6 pm is the best time to consume the news.
- Watch or listen to content that is inspiring or funny. If you watch TV or listen to podcasts, choose content that is inspiring or funny. This kind of content will uplift your mood and clean your emotional environment. Comedic content will also hopefully make you laugh, which helps reduce stress. For those who are working remotely, the best time to watch this kind of content is in the evenings – if you watch TV after dinner, for example, why not turn on a comedy or feel-good movie or TV show?
- Focus on your professional work and development for at least 8 hours per day. If you are able to work your regular 8-hour job remotely, that’s great. If you don’t have distractions, then working from home can be very productive, particularly for those who used to have long commutes. You can now use this time to focus on your professional development. Several platforms are now offering remote learning opportunities – use this time to attain new knowledge or and certifications to set yourself up for professional success in the post-lockdown world.
- Use social media to stay connected with your friends and families and don’t engage in gossip. Often, we are tempted to use social media such as to gossip– creating, reading, and forwarding useless posts and pictures, many of which are inaccurate or downright false. You may end up in gossiping for hours before you even know that that much time has passed. Instead, use social media to stay connected to family and friends. Call or video chat with them often or have watch parties or play virtual games together. Avoid using social media during first half of your day. If you work a standard 9-5 job, the best time to use social media is in the evenings, from 5-8pm, on weekdays and in the afternoons during the weekend.
Based on these strategies, you should create your own plan for each day. The plan for weekdays might be different than for weekends, as you may want weekends to be more relaxed. Develop your daily plan with your goals and interests in mind. It also helps to involve your family members in this process – encourage them to create their own plans, so you can ensure that you all are on the same page.
By utilizing the strategies above, you’ll minimize the emotional impact of COVID-19. You’ll also increase your mental and physical health, which will be helpful now and in the future. Slowly you’ll start impacting others and hopefully help them grow their mental and physical strength. The possibilities are unlimited, but remember it starts with you.
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