The outbreak of infectious diseases such as COVID-19 can affect the psychological health and mental wellbeing of people. Anxiety over contracting and spreading the virus, fear of self-isolation and increased stress due to canceled hospital appointments are some of the causes of mental distress during this period. Some people may find the outbreak more worrying than others. Also, some might experience increased anxiety, heightened stress, excessively checking self-examination for coronavirus symptoms, irritability, difficulty sleeping and many more. It is a common knowledge that managing psychological well being is important for physical health.
These are tips or strategies to maintaining good mental health during this coronavirus pandemic:
- Look out for a reputable and trustworthy source of information: There are lots of rumors and other baseless information that can disturb one’s emotional well being. One should avoid watching, listening and reading the numerous fallacies of social media platforms, instead one should seek for factual information to protect love ones. Reliable sources include the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), etc.
- Stay connected: Staying in touch with family and friends may serve as emotional support during this period.
- Educate young children: Ask the younger ones in your family or community on what they have heard or know about the outbreak. You should try to clarify their doubts and debunk myths and fallacies. You can also reach out to friends or contacts in the health profession to help out.
- Try to anticipate distress: It is understandable when you feel at risk or overwhelmed reading or hearing about the outbreak. Therefore plan for this; this would make you calmer and mentally stable.
- Keep up your healthy lifestyle: The virus outbreak should not affect healthy practices such as regular sleep, a balanced diet, exercise, etc. You can perform some of these activities in the comfort of your home. Also avoid, unhealthy coping strategies such as abuse of tobacco, alcohol or other substances.
- Make no assumptions: Avoid formulating unfounded hypotheses about the virus and spreading them around. This is most likely how the fallacy that COVID-19 is a bio-weapon, was created and this has destabilized some individuals’ mental wellbeing.
- For health care providers you are at the forefront of this pandemic, the buddy system can be utilized. This system involves attaching a less experienced person to a more experienced person and rotating from high to low-risk environment while caring for the isolated patients.
- For quarantined individuals, staying online can be helpful in reducing the feeling of loneliness. Also, regular adequate sleeping, exercise and a healthy balanced diet are also helpful.
- Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and controlled breathing can be used in managing stress from various issues relating to the coronavirus outbreak.
**Co-authored with Daha Muhammed, A Physical Therapist, and Mental Health Advocate at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Teaching Hospital, Bauchi, Nigeria