Trigger warning: the first half of the post is talking about the situation at present and how direly it is affecting us. If you are not in the mental state to read that. Please skip to the second heading on tips.
Pandemic or Pandemics?
We are living in historically relevant times. A period which will be remembered. There is no saying how it will be remembered but it will. Sickness and death is all around. Added to that sickness and death, we have rising poverty, falling economy, dying democracy and rising hate for one and other.
A hidden pandemic is also abound. A pandemic which is building in us (maybe with good reason) an acute mistrust of that which is supposed to be human superpower: social support. We don't know who to trust and how much to do that. Whether it is about following health guidelines like wearing a mask, or not going to religious public gatherings in the middle of a pandemic, or understanding and respecting each other's basic rights (especially in the times of pandemic), there is little trust left in us for each other. We've lost faith too. Not the religious faith, that is probably the strongest, but faith in medicine, in vaccine, in health systems, in political systems. In other words, faith in our own capacities to tackle the issue. The virus is smart. It attacked not health but systems which is maybe why it is winning at the moment. Collective trauma with different shades has reared it's head. And the worst hit is probably our hope. The more waves come, the more hope goes. And the more anxiety of what will happen next increases. In other words it is a mental health pandemic. Now before we move on to the section of what can be done for our own health, I would like to mention: these feelings are absolutely fine. You are not alone. And not for a single second must you feel that they are not real, or something too much, or it is only you who is feeling that way. From young children to old people, these feelings are something everyone is going through. Even if it seems like it at times, you are not alone!
Some Tips to keep your Mental Health Safe
The following tips are not very specific. They require some reflection on your end and a bit of self-talk to make them work. They are also difficult. You won't be able to follow them all the time, but they are helpful for sure.
1) Staying present and trusting that you will be fine: as cliche as it sounds, it is probably essential. We don't know what the next news is going to be. It can be that lockdown happened. It can be that they found a home remedy for COVID. Either way, you cannot know for sure. Even if you do know, you cannot control it. The mental work involved here is to begin building a trust in your own self and maybe in your immediate environment that whatever happens, you will be fine. You do have the capacity to eventually face the thing that is happening.
The next thing is, to remind oneself to let go of future thinking and just see what can be done (or is there) right now. One day at a time does makes stuff more survivable. 2) Finding how you can contribute: there are multiple pandemics happening at the moment. You cannot remove that. But you can do something to improve the situation around you, even if it is little. Maybe it is to just ensure your mental health is safe. Maybe it is to do a new course. Maybe it is to read and learn more on what is happening. Or start a support group. Or a reading group. Help someone in need. Start a fundraiser for your house help. Or just sleep. Anything. Think what you can do, and try to do it. Without pressure. Feelings of helplessness may arise when you face something as big as the pandemic. But then knowing what you can do to contribute is often helpful. 3) Do possibility thinking for self: while the above point is social, you can also do something similar for yourself. We are surrounded with news and information of all that which is not possible right now. This is in direct opposition of that. The task is to think about all the things you can do in this situation. A word of caution though, don't think of these as expectations from self. Just possibilities. This is not to add to the stress rather to add to hope which has been lost. Further, this step will require an additional step of accepting the current situation. So do note, you cannot think about possibilities till you stop resisting what is there.
4) Take it easy: it is very easy to forget that all this is difficult and thus you don't necessarily need to push too hard. Take it easy. Take some time off. One hour without gadgets and work but full of rest is a great thing to add in your schedule to make sure rest vs work balance remains intact.
We will hopefully survive this wave. Till then, take care. Stay safe. Stay indoors!