With the challenging times due to the COVID-19 outbreak, everyone is facing numerous difficulties - health, financial, personal, etc. which ultimately affects our mental health. Uncertainty about the future is the biggest concern in all our minds. Millions are unemployed, and they don't know when they are going to see their next paycheck. Small businesses forced to close their doors, taking the most substantial hit. Parents are struggling to put food on the tables and children struggling to learn from home. Adding insult to the injury is the fear of contracting this terrible infection and social distancing. Even the most focused mind and most robust heart could crush under these unprecedented circumstances. So it is paramount that we understand the complexities of human emotions and handle it with care.
- Recognize your problem - Often, recognizing the issues is the biggest obstacle. Analyze your state of mind. Are you feeling depressed, lonely, anxious, or afraid? There are also subtle signs of underlying emotional issues, like irritability, excessive anger, inability to concentrate, or even stress eating. Allot a few minutes every day as "Me time" for self-analysis.
- Accept it - The second step is accepting the problem. Many feel very inhibited to talk about their mental health issues, even with their doctors. There is still taboo about getting labeled with psychiatric illness, but thanks to many celebrities who have come out openly about their mental health issues that hopefully, the stigma will slowly fade away. Whatever it is, you are solely in charge of your health, be it physical or mental, and do not be shy to accept the problem. Do not let yourself go down the slippery slope. You will always find a helping hand. And remember that accepting your problem does not make you weak or inferior.
- Seek help - Thirdly, getting timely help is paramount. Confide in someone reliable and empathetic. Join a discussion forum or chat group where you will get an opportunity to meet many others with similar issues. If needed, get professional help from a physician or psychologist.
- Maintenance - After you have identified, accepted, and sought help, it is vital to maintain your emotional well being. The mind is like an animal; you can either tame it or let it transform into a beast. Emotional wellbeing depends on keeping yourself happy and engaged. As we all know, "An idle mind is a devil's workshop." Keeping your mind focused on things that make you happy is one of the few. Surround yourself with positive thoughts and people. When you can't find the sun be the sunshine yourself. Physical exercise can be an anti-depressant/anxiolytic by causing the release of endorphins and serotonin in the brain. Pick a hobby that you enjoy, maintain the right social circle, and always be thankful for the good things in your life.
Mental health is all about nurturing the mind. Just like maintaining a garden with watering, fertilizing, weeding, and pruning, it requires time and commitment. It is a process and not a short term goal. You are in the driver's seat, so steer your life in the right direction, and no matter where your destination is, make your journey an enjoyable one.