“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”— Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter)
It is only natural for we humans to love certainty. We want to be able to be in control. Only this time we cannot, with so much that is still unknown in the wake of COVID-19 that has plunged the world into uncertainty. The outbreak has induced so much fear across the world and has negatively impacted most of us if not all in one way or another. Many are overwhelmed with fear and anxiety, feeling of helplessness, not knowing what will happen next, wondering how long our lives will be at a standstill, not to mention immense worry over family and friends.
In times like this, we become vulnerable. Mental health could be compromised due to frustration, worry, waiting for something positive to happen – could someone come up with a vaccine, a cure maybe? Well, COVID-19 has put us in this space of precariousness.
But in these tough moments, good mental health remains critical, how do we ensure our mental health is well guarded? How do we protect our body, mind, soul and spirit?
Here are a few tips that you can try to ensure stability in mental health amidst the COVID-19 crisis:
- Control what you can
In this case wash your hands, SANITIZE, take your vitamins, practice social distancing, HYDRATE!
2. Be mindful of your sources of information
Limit your news intake especially from unverified outlets. Use reliable sources like: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
3. Social media mute
Mute! Mute! Mute! unnecessary WhatsApp groups, Facebook, Instagram posts and tweets that may be triggering negative emotions or are overwhelming.
4. Be productive
Write that report, try that new recipe, read that book, do your house chores, watch that movie. Just do something that generates positive energy! This will especially help in avoiding boredom which often leads to self- pity.
5. Stay connected
During this self-isolation period, reach out to your colleagues, school mates, friends and loved ones. Support each other, let us remind ourselves that we will manage and come out of COVID 19 together in solidarity.
6. Take care of YOU!
Managing your wellbeing is the most important and valuable thing ever. Only you can care for you. Focus on you. This is the time to practice mindfulness and to reconnect with yourself, feel your feelings and do what you have always wanted to do (of course keeping in mind social distancing). Try out that online course, eat right, sleep well, subscribe to Netflix, be physically active, do that work- out, keep up with podcasts, vlogs and blogs. Try out self-meditation activities like yoga, connecting with nature, subscribing to virtual religious communities that will help you maintain your spiritual connections. The list is endless on how we can engage in mindfulness deeds which is one significant way to help us stay grounded when things feel beyond our control.
“I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.”– Audre Lorde
7. Be kind to yourself and to others
It costs absolutely nothing!
During this unprecedented times, let us all remember that we are all in this together. After all is said and done, I hope we will emerge from this crisis more appreciative of life and all that it has to offer. Till then let us live by Maya Angelou’s great words, “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
Sending all my prayers, love and light to all my YWCA family around the world.
By Jill Anami
SRHR and Mental Health Regional Coordinator for Africa
Jill Anami is a gender specialist working on human rights advocacy in particular on the access to Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights information and services in Kenya. Jill has been a member of the YWCA of Kenya and is now the World YWCA regional coordinator of the “Young Women Changing Narratives on SRHR & Mental Health” initiative in Africa. The initiative is supported by the Government of Finland and aims to mobilise and engage young women leaders across 3 regions to advocate and campaign on SRHR & Mental Health.
She has a good understanding of the principles of humanitarian development, advocacy and gender equality related to the empowerment and development of young women and girls regionally and globally. Jill is has been actively involved with the UN Women CSW Youth Dialogue Task force for the past couple of years.