Covid-19 has overwhelmed us in many ways. It has been more than a year and there are no signs which indicate that we can go back to the normal routine. This has resulted in peopleâ€™s resilience increasingly getting frayed. So, how should we maintain our mental health? Here are few tips which can help you to stay positive as far as you mental health and well-being is concerned:
1. Structure your day
One of the basic things that Covid-19 has disturbed in the majority of homes is daily routine. Working and leisure time now look very different for the majority of us. Nevertheless, our bodies flourish on routine, so maintaining some existing or new habits is advantageous.Â Our brain, for example, forms associations, so if we work or study in our bedrooms, we will associate the bedroom with work. If you can, assist the young person you live with, in distinguishing between study and leisure time. This can be accomplished simply by ensuring that all study materials are removed from the kitchen table at the end of the day, or more strictly by separating study areas in your home from living or sleeping areas.
2. Manage sleeping habits
Another area that greatly benefits from routine is sleep.Â Sleeping patterns and wake times may very well have switched during lockdown, which really is alright. However, try to be consistent with the time your child goes to bed so that their body can support sleep by releasing hormones at the appropriate time. Make sure they set aside time in the evening to unwind and switch off from study and devices. You should also try to keep your bedrooms cool and dark for sleeping, and remember to open the curtains in the morning to let the sunlight in and reset your hormones..
3. Set an example
Young people are constantly bombarded with knowledge and information around them, which can have an impact on how they think and feel.
Be mindful as to how you respond and deal with various situations. It will be especially helpful during the pandemic to demonstrate that it is normal to be worried or sad. Make a note of the emotions you experience.Â It's also a good idea to model healthy habits for others by engaging in them yourself, such as eating nutritious foods, engaging in physical activity, and making time for self-care.
4. Family communication
Family communication can be tricky at the best of times, and this will be more challenging if people are experiencing lots of different emotions.
Often families experience difficulties with miscommunication where what is said is misinterpreted. This is particularly common when young people are feeling low, as they may interpret whatâ€™s being said as more negative. Try to be clear in your communications, and ask questions if you donâ€™t understand a particular response. When problems are identified, it can be helpful to work together as a family to think about lots of different solutions â€“ even the wild and wacky ones.
5. Try to notice the good moments
We will be continuously barraged with negative stories at the moment, and many of our regular outlets for pleasure and entertainment have transformed or disappeared. Making time for fun is essential for lifting our spirits â€“ especially a bit of banter that causes us to laugh aloud. Take note of these silly moments as they occur, and try to create and encourage them wherever you can.
6. Learn how to release negative thoughts
Assist youngsters in your care in resisting negativity. To accomplish this, suggest that they visualise their thoughts as clouds in the sky, leaves in a stream, or cars passing by. These ideas assist us in not â€˜fusing' with our thoughts. Encourage them to acknowledge and then let go of their thoughts. If negative thoughts persist, suggest that they seek an alternative way of thinking. For example, would they say to a friend if they were having the same negative thought?
7. Remember itâ€™s okay to have ups and downs
The COVID-19 siege has caused significant disruption, and both children and adults have to quickly adjust to new ways of life.Â Young people may be especially concerned about schoolwork or family members, and the stress and anxiety that results may leave them feeling depressed. These mood swings and concerns are to be expected. It's critical that the young person you live with understands that it's okay to feel a range of emotions during these trying times.
8. Look after yourself
Some families may find it hard to fathom placing themselves first. However, in order to provide care for others, we must first take care of ourselves. While routine is important and it's great to make plans to keep you busy, it's also important to remember that it's okay to take time for yourself. Every minute does not have to be filled. Though it may appear difficult, we cannot overstate the importance of self-care during this time. Self-care can be anything that nurtures you, from a quiet time of reflection to an online exercise class.
9. Notice coping mechanisms
This is a very stressful time for all of us. You and any young folks in your household could use this time to reflect on what you're learning about yourself. What helps you cope effectively? What triggers have you noticed that cause your mood to drop? How do you approach someone for assistance? What, if anything, do you need to change? What is important to you, and how will you keep it when things return to "normal"?
Dr Siddharth Chowdhury
VIMHANS, New Delhi