When coronavirus passes, your mental health will be the best, most important factor in bouncing back. We’re all eagerly awaiting the end of the health crisis and lockdown. We also know that economic recovery is likely to be slow and not necessarily smooth. Surviving coronavirus day-to-day is stressful. Post coronavirus is likely to be as well. If you’re on furlough, have lost your employment, or had your income cut down, fear of the unknown is very real. How do we stay on top of our mental health under such circumstances?
Remember, this is a new experience and one that very few of us are perfectly-equipped to deal with. Let’s not presume that we’ll simply walk back into our former pre-lockdown environments. Right now, many of us are stressed, anxious, bored, depressed, lonely, and scared about our families and finances. Everyone reacts differently to crisis and staying on top of your mental health will prepare you for the aftermath of this lockdown.
Officially, mental health refers to cognitive, behavioural, and emotional well- being. In layman’s terms, it is all about how people think, feel, and behave. Mental health affects daily living, relationships, and physical health. Think “mental health” is just moodiness? Here are some arguments for taking a closer look at your mental wellbeing.
Crisis makes people think and behave differently. Conditions like stress, anxiety and depression are known to short circuit the decision-making process, affecting key reasoning functions like long-term planning, calculating the consequences of risk and reward, keeping emotions in control, and problem-solving. In short, if your mental health is going haywire – even a little bit – your ability to make good, logical decisions for yourself and those around you is diminished.
As difficult as this crisis is for us, individually, some of the most upsetting aspects to manage have to do with how our loved ones, neighbours and friends are coping. By its very nature, Covid-19 has demonstrated just how connected humankind really is. Ensure that you’re in a place to be able to do good for those you care about. Helping other people has been known to improve one’s own overall mental health. But remember that there is a reason why you first put on your own oxygen face mask before assisting others!
If you’re out of work right now, you’re probably super keen to get back to it! Even being stuck working from home is taking a huge toll on our levels of stress and anxiety. Once the lockdown is lifted, people will start trickling back into places of work and the job market will hopefully start picking up. Make sure you’re in the best possible position to take full advantage when the time comes (remember that poor mental health impacts decision-making).
Work-related mental health issues result in absenteeism and general feelings of being overwhelmed. There are several job-related stressors happening all at the same time: job uncertainties, managing change, lack of control. Your mental wellness deserves some TLC right about now…
We know that children learn by doing what we do. They mimic and copy how they see their parents and other adults acting. In crisis, our scope narrows to concentrate on essentials and priorities – rent, food, housing, for example. This doesn’t leave a lot of energy left over for practicing self-care and focussing on mental health. We’ve now survived the first two months of coronavirus and have taken the initiative to organise ourselves around a new coronavirus budget. For parents, if you haven’t been, now is a good time to examine both how you manage your mental health and how to teach kids of all ages to be aware of their own mental health.
This covid-19 situation is stressful and confusing for children as well as adults. They, too, have lost their routines, have been pulled out of school, likely haven’t played with or seen a lot of friends recently, and are experiencing the same powerful emotions that adults are. For children struggling with stress, anxiety, depression or other issues, an early diagnosis and fast access to support helps the long-term management, benefitting the entire family.
In our next article we will discuss ways to leverage the coronavirus lockdown to upskill for a rapidly changing world. Stay tuned!