Pandemic Alert: Take care of your mental health
In the last week, several people have communicated to me their concerns that they or their children are stressed and anxious about what is happening around the world. It was expected that many of us would be emotionally affected with the media bombardment of the COVID-19 news and the change of routine when having to stay at home.
As a psychologist, and as a person, I feel that I cannot stay quiet in these circumstances. This is why, from my home, I want to share three ideas about how to deal with this situation.
First of all, it is essential to emphasise that we are all different, and we all react to situations in different ways. Do not blame yourself if your friends on Facebook published that they have already exercised and tidied up the house, and you are still in your pyjamas. As active as we are in “normal” circumstances, we are living in a situation that we never imagined would happen. Feeling discouraged or unproductive is normal, little by little, we will find out what works for us, and what doesn’t. Be kind and be patient with yourself.
Secondly, the coverage made by the different media streams of COVID-19 has been excessive. Checking my Facebook today, every two posts were related to the pandemic, and many of that news was either fake or had exaggerated headlines to get attention. With this, I want to recommend that you limit your exposure to this type of communication. Try to select what you consider to be a trusted source of information. In my case, I listen to what the government report and the indications they give. Besides, news blitz occurs because there are people who share it. What we are doing is information prostitution! I always say: if it is not going to add, do not subtract. If you do not know where the news comes from, or if you do not know if it is true, do not share it as it may scare other people. It helps more by sharing photos of your pets, participating in those games or questionnaires that have become more popular in social media lately, than keeping each death or contagion “informed”.
Finally, a piece of advice for families with children is that yes, it is important to make the kids keep their room tidy or follow a home school routine. But more essential than that it is to take time to know what children think and how they feel. With the youngest ones, pay attention and be part of their playtime, you will be surprised how much we can learn and know from children when we play with them. Children perceive our emotions easily, so let’s try not to provide more anguish and tension; let’s give them support and tenderness.
Each person’s coping process is different, and part of taking care of our mental health gives the recognition that we need to rearrange ourselves, pause for a moment to take care of ourselves, listen to each other, or accept that we need support. As well as staying at home you are helping yourselves and the other people in your community. Being empathetic and validating your emotions, and accepting others, also contributes and generates a positive impact.
Stay healthy, stay safe!
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