How to protect your mental health during this crisis time

SALALAH:  People are restrained in their houses to block the spread of coronavirus chain and those who are out as part of necessary works, are living under the fear of getting caught by the deadly virus. Generally people are undergoing some kind of mental pressure or the other.

There are people who are able to manage the situation through their own skills and understanding, but there are many others who are not able to take things in right stride.

Psychiatrists are of the view that it is natural to feel stress, anxiety, fear and loneliness at this time. It is important to be keep connected with family and friends, be kind to others and yourself, use skills to deal with stress, do some physical exercise even in home and maintain routine that gives sense of purpose to everyone.

Dr Khalid Mahmood Rao, HoD Psychiatry at Sultan Qaboos Hospital, gave some important tips to overcome this situation:

  1. Focus on what you can control and manage

Since you cannot control virus or what’s happening outside. It might be hard to control your thoughts and emotions when you hear the upsetting developments of outbreak, but you can control how to respond. Go for bath, read positive books, play with your children, do some gardening, tidy up your room, just focus on present moments.

  1. Set up shared goals for the family

May be you and your family all share the anxiety, set up goal you can manage now and not after the outbreak.

  1. Keep yourself active physically and mentally

Restrictions means you cannot swim or go to gym but you can do pushups, yoga, dance, tai chi, setup regular exercise routine suitable to your physical capabilities. Exercise your mind, reading books, watching intellectually stimulating movies, inspiring talks, and relaxing music helps.

  1. Organise your feelings and thoughts

It is ok to feel sad, angry and anxious, try to summarise into short statement, I am anxious because of my job, I am sad because of the news, acknowledge your feelings and emotions helps you externalise your stress and anxiety in to clearer thoughts rather than bottling up this emotional distress in your mind and storing it. Focus what you can control and manage.

  1. Identify your triggers and signs for possible mental health issues

It is important noticing signs like tightness of chest, shortness of breath, being unable to sleep or sleeping too much, eating too little or eating too much, headaches, passing suicidal thoughts or impulses for hurting someone else.

  1. Express your emotions in a healthy way

Everyone has his own way of coping up with emotional distress. Some ways are more damaging than being helpful like turning to alcohol, gambling games, arguing and violence also create more problems than solutions. So you can think about what you enjoy most and develop them into coping methods.

  1. Feelings and cocers to friend and family

Setting up support system for each other is beneficial to get through this time together. Talking to others might help you to understand your situation, talk to your friends and family if you feel emotional distress, sharing will help externalise your emotions and feelings. If you feel you have desperate thoughts or at risk of harming others please tell your family or friends, workout safety plan for yourself and family, talking to a professional will be of help.

  1. Seek help through helpline available in your area

Many centers, psychiatrists, psychologists, health care workers (trained for the job) and hospitals offer this service.

  1. Give others love and care

Be kind and caring as giving help to others makes up feel happier too. Do call your neighbors and friends who need more social connections, especially vulnerable elderly or someone who lives alone. Sometimes a warm greeting like “how are you doing” is very helpful for people who need more social support.

  1. Remember five key words: connected, creative, giving, learning and active

These five factors contribute to wellbeing both physical and mental health, belief in ourselves, we can go through this great social trauma together by caring for ourselves and each other.