- Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of all that is going on in our mind and around us without explicitly reacting to anything. We live each moment as full and rich. To practice mindfulness, bring all your attention to the “now” and “present”. Be aware of each passing thought or feeling without judgement. Evidence shows that practicing mindfulness in our day to day lives can significantly increase our capacity to cope with traumatic events, improve control over our emotional states and reduce anxiety and stress related symptoms.
- Learn Breathing Exercises
Whenever in stress, take a long and deep breath! “Mindful Breathing” can be learnt by being conscious of each passing breath and simply observing the physical sensation involved in the process of breathing. Research on “Mindful Breathing” and Pranayam may help us regulate emotions and manage stress. An important pathway for mindful breathing is “decentering” learning where we learn to view negative thoughts in our mind without judging thus de-linking self with depressive emotions.
- Try Meditation
Meditation is simple, free, and only takes a few minutes! It can promote relaxation, decrease negative emotions, build skills to manage stress, and increase tolerance. Mindful meditation involves being aware of your body, breath, and thoughts, but letting go of any negative thoughts and emotions without judging yourself for having them. There are a number of resources online and offline that will guide you on meditation. Please consult some of these sources at the end of this section.
- Limit News Consumption to Trusted Sources
It is important to obtain accurate and timely public health information regarding COVID-19 from such trusted sources as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and the official advisory by the respective Ministries of Health. But too much exposure to media coverage of the virus can lead to increased feelings of fear and anxiety. Most coverage, especially on latest scientific developments is not relevant to your day to day practice. Balance the time spent on news and social media with other activities such as reading, listening to music, talking to others or some other activity.
- Mindful Use of Social Media
Most of us are anxious to share information on social media, but false and misleading information may have serious consequences for our lives. Think twice before posting or sharing on social media. Ask yourself if the content is truthful, helpful, inspiring, necessary or kind? For more tips on mindful use of social media during COVID-19, click here.
- Be Generous and Kind to Others
It is tempting under the current conditions to think only of ourselves and our family. We worry about shortages and hoard essential items like food and medicines which may end up causing shortages. While it is important to stock up on food and other essentials, please think of others too who may need these items. Generosity can help us develop a sense of community and ensure that everyone has equal access to resources.
- Don’t Stigmatize and Practice Empathy
Viruses don’t discriminate and neither should we! The panic and chaos caused by the spread of COVID-19 can lead to stigma against people, places and communities. Stigma can have negative consequences on the mental health of the affected individuals, generate an environment of mistrust and also discourage stigmatized individuals from reporting or testing for the disease. We should combat stigma by understanding that the virus does not acknowledge social class, race, ethnicity or nationality. We should try to put ourselves in their shoes and show kindness towards people and communities and prevent information that will promote discrimination and bigotry.
Some Useful Resources
- Center for Disease Control: Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19
- World Health Organization: Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak
- NIMHANS with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India:
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: Tips for Coping with Stress
- Harvard University Health Services: Managing Fear and Anxiety Around Corona Virus
- Center for Health & Happiness: Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health
- Thrive Global: 5 Ways to Manage Your Coronavirus Stress
- STARTS (Strategic Toolkit Advising Return To School)– Resources for Student Wellbeing
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