When the local government implemented the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), getting anxious and paranoid has been our common reaction. The fear brought about by work stoppage, perceived delay of the LGU’s distributions of relief goods, basic subsistence needs of the family, work from home burnout, boredom, etc. is real. The feeling of anxiety is aggravated by browsing the internet which is loaded with information about COVID-19 and its casualties as well as the complaints of others on what they perceived are happening now.
With all these issues, without a doubt, the way we live our lives as well as the way we treat ourselves and others within the confines of our homes has also been affected. A lot of write-ups on positive vibes have been shared, and may somehow help in the process of managing our reactions to the complexities of the current situation.
Despite the odds to maintain our sanity, we need to do something to normalize our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Developing a new habit is painful especially when it is drastic. We may once be an active and dynamic worker, a self-employed individual with a lot of dreams to pursue, a diligent student who looked forward to marching on stage on graduation day, or an ordinary worker whose wife is about to deliver a new member of the family. Everything went smoothly. We were able to manage the challenges along the way. But, this pandemic has shocked not only our nation but also the whole world, especially its worst effect when we do not cooperate with our leaders who asked us to stay at home. The current situation compels us to do something beyond what we can imagine we can do.
Adjusting to staying home and performing our roles the whole day may be challenging for most of us. For parents, it is quite hard to be fully present without telling our children to minimize their screen exposure or gadget use, or to properly do their chores when we see that they are not doing it well. For the children, they felt annoyed to be constantly told (since they lose tract of time due to gadget use) what needs to be done. While others manage to make their home harmonious, some have difficulty establishing a harmonious routine. So what can we do about it to maintain our sanity?
3 Practical Tips to Maintain our Sanity in the Midst of COVID-19:
- Acknowledge our reaction of the current situation. When you feel worried, sad, anxious, panicky, or stressed out, we need to acknowledge that these are our reactions due to the uncertainties of the situation. Let’s give ourselves the permission to feel those emotions and take them one by one. We may start with our worries. In recognizing each emotion, we may do the following:
- What are we worried about?
- For how long will we allow ourselves to be worried?
- On a scale of 0 to 10 where 0-means not worried and 10-extremely worried, where are we on the scale?
- What small steps will we do to eliminate or minimize our worries?
- How will we know that the worries have been eliminated or minimized?
- What else will we do to eliminate or minimize my worries?
In every difficult situation we encounter, it is helpful to be mindful of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, and closely examine them by answering the questions previously enumerated. The moment we ignore them, our feelings will continue to haunt us. When they do, they will disturb our peace of mind which leads to more serious problems like insomnia, paranoia, depression, etc. So, let’s start recognizing them now.
- Take small simple steps each day. As much as possible, we try not to do everything all at once so that we will not be overwhelmed. If we worry about sustaining the needs of our family now that the company where we work stopped its operations, then we examine our talents/skills. Let’s not give in to the idea that we don’t have a talent or a skill because if we do, we immediately shut-off our mind and will become convinced that our case is hopeless. If you have the gift to write then explore the net to find ways on how we can showcase or share our gift. We may start writing an article or researching for alternative ways to generate income in this trying time.
Another way to minimize our worries is to look around the house and see how we can be of help in maintaining an organized home. Let’s tidy our shelves by pulling out those notes or documents we have been keeping since our grade school days, and decide what we will do with them. Gardening, cooking, washing the dishes, and re-arranging our things and furniture at home are few of the alternatives that we can do to feel productive. Remember that the more organized our home environment is, the more they invite positive vibes.
- Re-structure our routine. For most of us who are compelled to stay at home, I believe now is the perfect time to reflect on the kind of life we have been living. We look back. What makes us sad or desperate about when you arrive home? Here are some of the concerns I often heard from my clients:
- Not having a partner despite investing on the products that can make them look good. You may have found someone you desperately want to live with for the rest of your life; sadly, he or she has not found you yet. Ouch!
- Not getting the job or the promotion they think they deserve.
- Not enough income to live a comfortable life.
- Not able to express their thoughts and emotions to any member of the family due to the lack of time to sit down together.
- Not having savings despite working for several years already.
- Not being able to connect with friends due to the frequent overtime work.
If you find the identified items similar to our concerns, how will we address those? Again, now is the perfect time to reflect on what needs to be done to get closer to what we want. Let’s try to re-structure our routines even when we are at home in preparation for the time when we can go out and connect with people, start reporting to work, etc. The routine should include the following on top of our work schedule.
- “Me Time”. Allocating a “Me Time” schedule is beneficial. It is during this time when we can reflect on what we went through during the day or the previous days. We may review our flaws and make necessary plans to improve those and recognize our accomplishments to motivate us to go farther.
- Exercise. This is one of the best antidotes for stress, anxiety, and depression. Most of us, however, could not include this to our routine because we are overly occupied with our jobs, especially when we are often required to render overtime work, or are busy with other activities like drinking alcohol, gambling, playing computer games, or browsing the internet, which may not be very helpful.
- Conversing with family members. Spending time with our parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, and whoever is in the house is rewarding. Observing and listening to the voices and laughters of our family members create a meaningful experience, especially during this time.
If we can commit to include all three of them in our current routine, it will surely prepare us for something better in the future. The ability to commit to ourselves to do what is best for us is already an indication that whatever difficulty we will encounter in the future, we will always have something to look back on (that is, this time) that can make us more confident because we are able to manage the current difficult situation. There will be more reasons to smile because of the meaningful connections we are able to establish at this time when the world is so anxious and fearful of the impact of COVID-19.
To all the front liners, the MindPro Psychological Services Team is one with you in the fight against COVID-19.