In the wake of COVID-19 being declared a pandemic by World Health Organisation, we as a community need to do all we can by following instructions that have been put in place to protect us and our loved ones while looking after our mental health and well-being and maintaining a positive outlook in the midst of social distancing.
“This is not something we have experienced before so it can take some time for the brain to accept and adjust to the new situation we all face globally as a community,” said Dr Khawla Ahmed Al Mir, Consultant Psychiatrist at Rashid Hospital.
The first thing I would say is to stay informed by trusted and official sources. Get advice and information from official sources and limit the consumption of information, particularly as there can be information overload.
“The first thing I would say is to stay informed by trusted and official sources. Get advice and information from official sources and limit the consumption of information, particularly as there can be information overload. You can restrict consumption of information to certain times in the day and ensure you browse official sites before scrolling through your socials.
“Those who suffer from anxiety and panic disorders in particular might witness flare-ups and the best way to avoid it is to minimise information overload and stick to official sources of information at specific times during the day. Keeping a daily routine or a habit journal and filling it with a specific schedule will help bring calm, as the power of routines is often underestimated.
A structured routine
“It is the one fundamental thing I would like to emphasise. At such times, falling into unhealthy patterns of behaviour is easy and that will make you feel worse not better. Therefore, it is important to build a routine that works for you and your family. Kids also thrive in a structured environment. It doesn’t need to be very specific but a broadly structured environment will help you and your family.
“Build a routine that works for you and stick to it as much as possible, additionally develop a habit journal and focus on activities that you enjoy or create goals that will make you achieve a sense of fulfilment.”
The power of exercise
Do not underestimate the power of exercise, says Dr Mir. “Make sure you do some home workouts to avoid slacking on your daily dose of exercise. Make sure your children get some form of exercise at home and making it fun helps the family unwind together. There have been several studies that have proven the positive power of exercise on both mental and physical well-being.
“This could be a time to read more books, spend more time with your family, learn a new language, or garden. It’s the time to reflect and then weave the things you want to do into your daily routine.”
Tips for a positive mindset:
● Look for ideas of exercises you can do at home
● Seek credible information at specific times of the day
● Reflect on activities that you enjoy and put them into your routine
● Those working from home should make a routine that supports their work
● In your spare time, things you can do at home: reading, cooking (learning a new dish or baking), playing board games with the family, cooking with children, enjoying your favourite radio or TV programmes and distance learning any language or skill
● Drink enough water
● Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals and stay away from the temptation to eat junk food or excessive eating. Home exercising will also motivate you to follow a healthier diet.
● Stay virtually connected with friends and family. Stay in touch with your loved ones all over the world and build that into your routine
● Use technology such as helpful apps — learning apps, home workout apps and mindfulness apps