During the current situation, almost all over the world facing the pandemic of Covid-19 which affect the way of living of each people. Some countries has to declared ‘Lock Down’ in order to control the spreading of this contagious diseases. Any individual may be affected emotionally as they will feel overwhelmed by a lockdown as well as they have to follow the order to social distancing. The disruption to usual routines, the need for working from home or self-isolating can have significant impacts on individual wellbeing and mental health.
Therefore, in Malaysia, the Ministry of Health have established initiative to avoid every citizens from being stressed, anxiety or panic during the Covid-19 outbreak. Based on the Guidelines Covid-19 Management No.5 (2020), the initiative known as Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) can be defined as to any type of local or outside support that aims to protect or encourage psychosocial well-being or treat mental disorders. Support may include interventions in health, education, or involvements among community. One of the components of MHPSS is prevention and treatment of psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Let’s focus on how to manage the mental health and well-being during home surveillance as Movement Control Order (MCO) has been enforced in Malaysia currently. Ministry of Health Malaysia recognized several tips to stay safe and healthy at home.
Many people find that life is filled with various demands but there are limits of time and resources during this outbreak. Difficulty concentrating, low motivation and a state of distraction are to be expected. As this new rhythm of remote work and isolation, we need to be realistic in the goals we set and leave behind the issues beyond our control.
Choose non-competitive exercise and set reasonable goals. Regular exercise can help reduce anxiety and improve mood. Clinical studies show exercise has produces chemicals, such as dopamine, endorphin and serotonin, which are as effective as antidepressant or psychotherapy for treating milder depression.
There are variety of techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation / yoga, mental imagery relaxation, listening to music etc. A few minutes of quiet time can be refreshing and help to quiet our mind and reduce anxiety. When we are feeling overwhelmed, remind ourselves of what we do well. Set a positive mind and have a healthy sense of self-esteem.
Consume healthy food that contain anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, includes whole grains, vegetables (particularly green leaves), fruit, berries, almonds, seeds and olive oil to maintain the mental and physical health. Avoid loading up on junk food and refined sugar. Limit caffeine as it can aggravate stress and anxiety.
Smokers are very at high risk as COVID-19 affects the lungs that may lead to death. Moreover, nicotine acts as a stimulant and brings on more stress symptoms. Using alcohol to try to cope can make matters worse and reduce coping skills. Avoid taking drugs as well as emotional eating because it do not reduce stress.
Many medical researches have proven depressed people struggle with sleep especially for those who fear of being placed under home surveillance because of the disease. Good quality sleep is a form of overnight therapy and assist in handling strong emotions effectively. Practice good sleep hygiene such as taking a hot bath, get 8 hours of sleep, avoid blue lights before bed etc.
Spend more time physically with family members such as helping them with their tasks, eating together, for Muslims perform ‘Solat Jemaah’ with family members or creating new hobbies for examples playing carom, chess, board games etc. can help to manage anxiety, and able to adapt more quickly to this current reality.
It involves setting priorities, pacing ourselves, taking time out for ourselves and asking for help when appropriate. Doing something positive to manage anxiety is a healthy coping strategy. Maintain a sense of hope, work to accept changes as they occur and try to keep problems in perspective. Sometimes we need to be assertive that allow us to stand up for our rights and beliefs while respecting those of others.