Addressing mental health during COVID-19's outbreak

The constant exposure to news about COVID-19 can contribute to a person’s distraction and stress.
by Sandra Abdelbaki

28 March 2020 | 21:43

Source: by Annahar

  • by Sandra Abdelbaki
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 28 March 2020 | 21:43

A man walks at Beirut's seaside corniche along the Mediterranean Sea, which is almost empty of residents and tourists in Beirut, Lebanon. (AP Photo).

BEIRUT: With the global pandemic affecting more than a hundred countries across the globe, it is crucial for individuals to address their mental well-being during these exceptional times.

According to Pia Zeinoun, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at the American University of Beirut and board member at Embrace, feelings of uncertainty, loneliness, boredom, and frustration are very likely to be heightened during such times.

“In our modern history, many people have not yet experienced this type of global pandemic and quarantine, so a lot of the feelings we are experiencing are new,” said Zeinoun.

According to Zeinoun, people deal with their emotions differently and might have different coping styles. Yet, there are some important coping mechanisms Zeinoun highlighted that will help people manage their emotions. These tips are as follows:

1. Keep some structure and routine to the day. Even if things are chaotic in the world, we can control aspects of our lives by establishing a routine. That is, setting a time to wake up, a time for any physical activity (walk alone, jumping rope on the balcony…), a time for relaxing by mediating or doing a slow mindful activity, and a time for work.

2. Keep some routine for the children. Children like to have predictability. We cannot plan their whole day, but some level of structure would be important (e.g., wake up at same time, have lunch, TV time). It is okay to loosen up the rules slightly, because what matters is quality time together that is free from stress.

3. Keep your eating and sleeping healthy. This is easier said than done, but eating good balanced meals and getting enough sleep by going to bed early (ideally no later than 11pm), builds your physical and mental strength.

4. Manage your thoughts. Many of us can have dark thoughts about the future, which increase our anxiety. However, we cannot control what will happen tomorrow in the world. We can only control what we ourselves do. Focusing on things that are within our control, can make us feel much better.

5. Pace yourself. We are in this for the long-haul, and we need to have stamina to sustain our indoor lives for many more weeks to come. Try to think of today only, but stay prepared for the future.

Many people have been concerned with maintaining their productivity at home since home quarantine play a factor in limiting one’s motivation to work.

“Manage the expectations of how much work you will do,” explained Zeinoun. “Those that have to work, are advised to have a space somewhere in the house that is only for work. Do not work from bed, or in front of the TV.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) also stressed the importance of amplifying positive stories and limiting the intake of news about COVID-19 during the day. The constant exposure to news about COVID-19 can contribute to a person’s distraction and stress.

“Minimize watching, reading or listening to news about COVID-19 that causes you to feel anxious or distressed; seek information only from trusted sources so that you can take practical steps to prepare your plans and protect yourself and loved ones. Seek information updates at specific times during the day, once or twice,” WHO stated in a report.

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Embrace continues to raise awareness on coping mechanisms during these times through their social media presence and their emotional support and suicide prevention hotline in Lebanon (1564).

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