taking care of your mental health during a pandemic.

With the escalating number of COVID-19 cases, everyone - from students to chief executives - is required to stay at home to effectively practise social distancing.

Our daily routines have changed. We no longer hang out with our colleagues and friends to share a meal and have a laugh together like we used to. Many of us find ourselves being and feeling alone due to the lack of social interactions.

The way we consume information has also changed. Many people have reported feeling overwhelmed by anxiety, grief and fear of the unknown just from reading negative news about the pandemic.

It is important to acknowledge that there is nothing wrong with feeling unsettled and a little uneasy during this time. After all, the scale of this pandemic is unprecedented. However, it has never been more important to maintain a balanced and positive mental health while working from home.

how to cope during stressful times
how to cope during stressful times

how to have a good mental health

1. create a routine and stick to it

Your regular routine changes when you are working from home. If you do not live with children, you tend to wake up later, which also means that you’re likely to go to bed later than usual the night before. Instead of spending time catching up on emails and messages, you’re reading the news about the rising number of cases around the world and shortage of healthcare equipment. You’re supposed to feel energised and motivated. But now you’re dejected and somber.

Create a routine that works for you and stick to it. For example, wake up and go to bed as usual. Spend your morning cleaning your desk, making a hearty breakfast or meditating. Unless your job requires you to monitor the news or social media, try not to log on to the media sites while you’re working. Not only is browsing media and social media sites distracting, you may end up feeling upset after reading news about the pandemic, which would impact your mental health.

Make sure that you log off from work on time and not too late into the evening. You should continue with your evening activities such as preparing dinner, catching up on your favourite television shows or exercise.

2. take care of your body

When you eat fresh and healthy foods and get a good amount of sleep every night, you’ll feel better both physically and mentally.

Just because you don’t need your body to be beach-ready, doesn’t mean that you should become a couch potato! Use the time you would usually take to commute to work to exercise. There are a variety of workout routines to follow on YouTube and Instagram. You can also get creative by using things you can find around the house.. For example, you can use a chair for tricep dips or a jug of water as weights.

Working out a sweat in the morning also forces you to clean up and change into something more appropriate for work. When you change out of your pyjamas into a polo shirt or a simple blouse, you’ll naturally feel motivated to get things done.

It’s easy to log additional hours when you work from home, especially when you’re waiting for dinner. Rather than work until dinner is ready, log off when it’s time to end work. You could refresh your to-do list for tomorrow, squeeze in another workout or take a relaxing shower just before bed.

3. get creative

Before the pandemic, we’d gather in groups to watch a movie, celebrate birthdays or dine at the newest restaurant. Social interactions with diverse groups of people and discussion topics help us gain more insights and be more creative.

However, due to this COVID-19 pandemic, people may feel unsafe gathering in big groups now. This means that we have to find other ways to stay creative.

You may start a book list on Goodreads and purchase the hardcopy book from BookDepository or digital copies via Amazon. There are also free virtual museum tours, where you can learn more about the history, culture and background of the artists and their art pieces. If you’re more of a hands-on person, you could try to garden or build a piece of furniture.

4. keep the conversation going

Teleconferencing tools such as Google Hangouts or Skype are not just for work. You can sign up for a free account using your personal email address to connect with your friends outside of work too. Connect with them after work for a virtual dinner or drink session, or arrange for a workout.

During such stressful times, it is even more important for you to connect with your colleagues and friends. Call and text them regularly and take the initiative to share feel-good news, funny videos or pictures of cute animals that you’ve come across.

surround yourself with positive energy

If you are feeling overwhelmed from reading all the negative news about COVID-19, take a break from it. Switch off the push notifications from news and social media applications and your television. Instead of monitoring COVID-19 on the news every other minute, put aside an hour every day just to catch up on all the news you need.

Proactively put in effort to participate in activities that you enjoy. For example, if you enjoy catching up with your friends, be the one to take initiative rather than wait for someone to set up a video call. Finish the television series or book that you’ve been meaning to get to but just “couldn’t find the time”. If you’re one of those who are working overtime because of COVID-19, make sure that you’re getting adequate sleep.

Most importantly, be kind, empathetic and support each other. As the High School Musical song goes, “we’re all in this together.”

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