Note: This article is built on the expertise provided by Apeksha Trivady, a psychologist based in Mumbai. You can learn more about her by scrolling towards the end of the article.
How you can take care of your wellbeing during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis
Lockdowns and the need to distance ourselves socially have forced us into living in a relatively uncomfortable situation. The discomfort is centered around the fact that we did not choose this, yet it affects us so immensely. A sense of having no control, helplessness can be scary and evoke several emotions like anger, anxiety, sadness, boredom, etc. All of these feelings are normal. In new and difficult situations, everyone feels this way and it’s okay to feel this way.
It is important that you acknowledge and give room to yourself to explore these feelings with yourself or someone else (a friend/ a counselor). It is important not to dismiss or invalidate them. Negative feelings grow stronger and bigger if they are ignored.
Actively engaging in self-care
When our external systems are undergoing changes that we must adapt to constantly, we need to make sure our internal structures are reliable. A routine creates stability and safety especially in times of distress and helps reassure us that whatever goes wrong outside, I can trust the inside. To start with, try to write down what aspects of your life you are in control of- when and how you exercise, what you eat, what time you sleep and when you get up, what you watch, who you talk to, when you start and stop working, etc. Using these, create a daily routine for yourself starting when you wake up to when you go to sleep. Try to include getting dressed for the day as part of your daily routine – it is amazing what a few minutes dedicated to grooming and dressing-up can do to your motivation.
Excerpt of what your routine could look like
Another helpful tip would be to separate your area of work from your bed or where you sleep. This will help you take your mind off work when it’s time to relax and get into work mode when you have to. If creating and maintaining a routine seems like a drag, have a friend do it with you and check-in with each other on how it’s working. Try to stick to healthy food, sleep and exercise habits. This will not only give you a sense of control but also release the essential hormones your mind needs for nourishment.
It is great to start learning a new language or instrument, take up a new hobby, start a blog, get through our book and movie list during these times because many of us have time on our hands to do what we didn’t have time for before. But remember, it’s alright to not do any of it and ‘just be’ as well. Setting high expectations for yourself during these uncertain times may increase distress.
Also, try and limit media exposure to a certain amount and designate a certain time of the day to update yourself about the virus. Constantly reading about it can make you wonder about it more.
Sometimes, helping someone else gives us perspective and lowers our distress. If this is true for you, join 7 cups of tea, volunteer online at UN volunteers or at other places.
You’ve got this.
Try to exercise as much self-compassion as you can and try not to completely deny yourself things that make you comfortable or soothe you. It’s okay to be a little self-indulgent during these times. Tell yourself ‘It’s okay’ and that ‘You’ve got this’.
The most important thing to remember with the change is to start small – little victories go a long way.
Tracking self-care through a routine.
Using a digital tool can help you be accountable to your a routine that you may have planned:
Sectograph (Android only): A time planner (time tracker) that visually displays a list of cases, events, and tasks for the day in the form of a twelve-hour circular chart – the dial. The application will help you sharpen the sense of time and visualize the day.
TimeTune (Android only): A time management app that will help you do more things with your time
Habitica (Android & iOS): Motivate yourself to achieve goals through a gamified application.
Edited by Suryakumar Appu