MIND HEALTH AND COVID-19

The initiative to tackle COVID-19 is both incredibly significant for all of us and poses a set of obstacles for individuals and families as they adapt to the situation which will become the new norm for a while. The situation is stressful to all and feeling nervous and worried is natural. This space is intended to provide information and suggestions on how to go through this difficult time. This is not a resource for individuals who require screening for COVID-19.  

If you are experiencing challenge in addressing what's in your mind, contact us to talk to our Clinical Psychologist.

 

WHAT IS COVID-19?

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is a novel virus which is know as an infectious disease. The disease causes respiratory illness with symptoms ranging from mild to severe, similar to the cold and flu, such as cough, fever and breathing difficulties.. In some cases, those who have COVID-19 may show no symptoms

HOW DOES IT SPREAD?

Coronavirus disease spreads primarily through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. It also spreads when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth.

WHERE CAN I GET RELIABLE AND ACCURATE INFORMATION ON COVID-19?

We understand the spread of rumours and news are faster in social media accounts. However, validate the information first before spreading it further and causing unnecessary worries. Please get the reliable and accurate information only from the platform.

1. Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia (KKM)

2. World Health Organisation (WHO)

HOW CAN I SUPPORT A LOVED ONE WHO IS VERY ANXIOUS ABOUT THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC?

In order to provide support/help to our loved one, we have to equipped ourselves with correct understanding of "anxiety". Anxiety is our body's natural (psychological, physiological, and behavioral state)  response to stress.   Therefore it is normal for us (who are also currently going through the same stress; COVID-19 pendemic) to feel anxious to a certain extend.  


Most of the time, what our loved one are experiencing is an acceptable level of anxiety. Therefore, the right thing to do is to normalize the feeling and take necessary action like limit the social media screening time to avoid overexposure to negative news.

HOW DO I MANAGE MY STRESS AND ANXIETY WHILE I WAIT FOR MY SWAB TEST RESULT?

If you have been tested due to contact with someone or because of your symptoms, waiting for the results can be very anxiety provoking. This may be especially true if you are in self-isolation or quarantine. The results usually are available within a day or two, but this can vary depending on your area. Ask the provider who took the swabs when you should expect the results. 
While waiting for the results, focus on what you can do to manage and monitor your symptoms. Most people with COVID-19 have only mild symptoms. In this case, all you need to do is self-isolate for the amount of time you are told. Follow the advice of your health care provider on how to monitor and manage symptoms. Most importantly, follow their instructions on when to go (and when not to go) to the hospital.

I HAVE TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

It must have been a roller coaster ride before getting the diagnosis. Constant anxiety from before swab test, waiting for the result and then being diagnosed positive for COVID-19.


Some may take the diagnosis as the end of everything but knowing the diagnosis actually make us the upper hand as now we can get the right treatment management.   

Since mental health also contribute to the well-being of our immune system which is crucial in fighting this virus, keeping ourselves calm and grounded is the key to maintain our mental strength. Of course, to also follow the advised given by the healthcare providers to smoothen the recovery journey.

 

STRATEGIES TO MAINTAIN MIND WELLNESS DURING THIS PANDEMIC

Here are some ideas that might be helpful for you or your friends and family. These ideas may suit or may not, however it may be adapted {be creative} to suit your personality, lifestyle or culture. 

Having said these, if you have your coping mechanism which has worked for you before, kindly apply it. 

 

ACCEPT THAT SOME ANXIETY AND FEAR IS NORMAL

COVID-19 is a new infectious disease and there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding it. Many governments have imposed lockdowns and movement restrictions to stop the spread. Naturally this makes people feel a bit anxious and nervous. In these times we can do our best to motivate each other to not just protect ourselves, but to also keep our spirits up.

CREDIBLE INFORMATION

Keep yourselves updated by checking information provided by experts through credible sources. A lot of information is shared about COVID-19 on a daily basis. Unfortunately, not all of it is accurate. Examples of reliable sources include:

World Health Organization (WHO)

Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia (KKM)

WorldoMeters (Coronavirus Live Cases)

Do ensure that you check the information shared with you, as some may be untrue. Be wary of what is shared on social media and do your part to stop the spread of not just the virus, but also fake news.

MINDFULNESS {RELAXATION & MEDITATION}

One of the best ways to reduce or manage your stress and anxiety levels are through practicing relaxation and mediation. This can be done through;

meditation activities such as yoga or mindfulness meditation

reading self-help books or watching motivational videos online

relaxation through hobbies or relaxting activities

There is no one-size-fits-all solution so choose whatever that works best for you. Start slowly and in time it will become a habit for you.

DIGITAL UNPLUG

That being said, overload of information may be detrimental to oneself. Do try and limit the amount of times you check for information to once a day, or even less if possible. Schedule time to disconnect yourself from all news outlet, including social media.

CHALLENGE YOUR THOUGHTS

Anxiety and stress are usually amplified by oneself. At its worst, these thoughts can be so overwhelming that you perceive it to be true.

SEEK SUPPORT

Whilst many governments have promoted social distancing, it does not mean we have to cut off all ties with our loved ones. Being alone too can result in increased stress and anxiety. Do continue to keep in touch with your loved ones to:

Check up on them to see if they are okay

Look for support from them, especially during these stressful times. (Facetime/Whatsapp Video call)

Avoid people who are negative as they may spread fear or even hate, which defeats the purpose of reaching out to them.

EAT HEALTHILY

Make a conscious effort to eat healthily. This can have a positive impact to one's mindset. Understandably, during stressful times, people tend to reach out to comfort food, which are not good for stress management and overall health. Whenever possible, choose healthier alternatives such as fruits, vegetables and do remember to also keep yourself hydrated.

AVOID SUBSTANCE USE (SMOKING, VAPING, DRINKING)

Similarly, substance such as smoking or vaping are sometimes used as a coping mechanism. While this may appear to help in stress management initially, long-term it can make things worse. This is because the brain and the body be more immune to the numbing effects of these substances, and the users will have to resort to consuming more of it. This, in turn, will add more harm and delay the stress recovery journey. If you are in recovery and experiencing stress, it is advisable for you to reach out to your healthcare provider before relapse occurs.

MODERATE CAFFEINE INTAKE

Some of us may need caffeine to start off the day, as it has been part of the daily routine but too much of it can cause palpitation and disturb your sleeping pattern. This can increase the level of anxiety. What we can do is skip the evening caffeine so you get to sleep soundly at night.

STAY ACTIVE

A perfect way to alleviate stress and anxiety, improving our mood and overall health is through physical activity. If you're self-isolated, be creative in working out at home. Get physical information on reliable and credible website or ask our physiotherapist to advice you on home-based activities.

GET ENOUGH SLEEP 

Did you know sleep can help in reducing weight? Yes! Not only that, it helps in reducing the amount of stress we experience and prepare us to better manage it. How do we get a good night's sleep?

  1. Have a consistent sleeping schedule

  2. Have at least 6-8 hours of sleep 

  3. Practice relaxation and breathing techniques before bedtime

LOVE YOURSELF

We know these strategies may take some time for you to adapt. However, do not be too hard on yourself if you are not able to do something or if you are not feeling better right away.

Pamper yourself at home:

  1. Set the mood with relaxing music

  2. Clean the room and house

  3. ​Cook out & indulge in your home-cooked meals

  4. Spa at home : Facial, Manicure/Pedicure, Hair care,

  5. Netflix & chill

I still can't cope. What should I do?

Often, we can continue to struggle even after attempting to reduce our stress and anxiety. If you are experiencing significant distress, you may need additional support from someone like your family doctor or a clinical psychologist or other health care professional. Talk to us!

 

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