• Jacobine van den Berg

Mental Health: Coronavirus.

It’s been a few weeks since I posted something…not because I have nothing to say. Because I do, I have lots to say but the key is saying something of significance to you.

For some time now, we’ve been in the middle of the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The news about this pandemic dominates the news and talk shows everywhere. People are worried and concerned. The level of anxiety is increasing.

A wide range of measures have been taken to contain an even bigger spread of coronavirus.

It is a very uncommon and an absolutely extraordinary situation that may be very stressful especially for people already struggling with mental health issues.

There is a lot of fear and anxiety about this disease and a lot of uncertainty. It is fast changing and there is often different and conflicting information coming from all over the world. This can be overwhelming and cause a lot of negative thoughts and strong emotions.

Therefore, in order to better cope with the virus and the uncertainty its creating, we should take care, not only of our physical health and immunity but also of our mental health.

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. Your feelings will also change from time to time. How you respond to the virus outbreak can depend on others, your personality, personal background, and life experiences as well as the environment you live in.

You can be worried about your own health and the health of your loved ones; you may be concerned about the situation in your own country and how it's developing, or worrying about your elderly family members who live far away which you cannot visit. You may be experiencing sleepless nights, lack of appetite, problems with concentration or worsening of your chronic health problems as well. Or mild symptoms of a panic attack.

Many of us are also facing a lot of challenges with school or work. Following your classes online and not being able to see your lecturer or fellow students in real life might not be easy.

Working from home requires a lot of creativity. Especially when people have to combine their work responsibilities with taking care and teaching their children since the schools are still closed.

Also, isolation from other people and our daily activities can cause a lot of negative feelings. Certain events people were looking forward to are cancelled or postponed. These things also affect mental well-being. It’s also immensely tough being separated from partners, especially those who aren’t able to Facetime and communicate easily.

However, there are many ways to keep the control and power in your life to lower the level of feeling alone. Talking to your family and friends can help you to cope with everything you're dealing with.

Talking to people is key in times like this.

Now is the time to pick up the phone, to

FaceTime, to play Houseparty or to set up another type of online meeting and see your friends the digital way. Play games like the online version of Cards Against Humanity. Watch something together through Netflix Party. 

It will relieve your own thoughts and feelings and you feel immediately better and beside that, it's also so much fun!

Helping others to deal with this situation and to open yourself up to hear about their stress can help to make you & your surrounding people stronger in these times.

I think it's time to start caring and supporting each other and pulling everyone around you through.

Don't forget: it's a worldwide problem and everyone is feeling it somehow.

What can you do in these times?

Stay informed but know your boundaries.

Try not to read every news website. Some are spreading fake news or not confirmed research material.

Speculation and misinformation can fuel anxiety and cause fear and even more panic. Limit yourself to search for information only from official and credible sources. Try to pick one moment at the day to read or watch the latest info on Corona, otherwise your brain will be overflowing in information and news which is an unwanted trigger for your mental state.

Remember to take a break or even cut it out when you feel overwhelmed. Also limit your exposure to social media. Constant scrolling through social media feeds can only intensify feelings.

Focus on the things that you have under control.

By focusing on your life and actions over which you have control, instead of thinking and wondering ‘What if?’, you will feel more confident about the current situation and it will help you to stay calm.

Think about all the actions you can take to look after yourself. Such as: hygiene; cooking; enough sleep; physical activity; finding your time to relax, rest and unwind; activities that make you feel happy.

Self-care is so important right now and it is really wise to focus on prioritising your well-being and building up your positive mindset. Taking care of yourself will allow you to also support others.

Make a to-do plan with things that have a positive influence on your life.

Write down a schedule for every week. Having a clear to-do plan will help you to stay focused and will keep you busy and active without feeling bored.

Express what you are feeling through talking to others, writing your thoughts down in a journal or by doing something creative. Think about painting, drawing, singing, making music, making a puzzle, or gaming.

Physical activity is also a great way of clearing your body and mind. Take a walk, dance around in your room, go out for a run or find yourself some good workout videos on YouTube.

You can also get back to the book that you put on the shelf because you didn’t have time to read it before! Or sort out your closet and bring it to the Salvation Army.

Find opportunities to do something that feels good for yourself while thinking about other human beings.

Stay connected, reach out to others and support people around you.

Focus on maintaining healthy relationships and building a strong support system. Keeping in touch with your friends and family may ease the stress caused by COVID-19. Send a message, make a phone call, do online gatherings with your friendship group as I mentioned above. Let people know that they are not alone and that you care. Talking through your concerns and feelings may help you find ways of dealing with challenges together.

Accept how you're feeling.

It is human to feel and express your emotions. It is normal that many of us are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, anxious or even upset. Take your time and allow yourself to notice what is happening and how you are feeling.

Ask for professional help if needed.

Look after yourself and your loved ones. However, if you or someone you care about are having emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, consider reaching out for support by a professional when you cannot deal with it alone.

A lot can be done with video calling these days. Remember that professional help is only one call and step away. Sometimes you need help from others in order to start finding yourself.

There is a lot that we can do to cope with stress and anxiety in order to protect our mental health during this time of uncertainty.

You are not alone - I care and I hope that everyone does in these times.

Take care and stay safe you all.

Until next blog!



©2020 by Jacobine van den Berg.