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Mental Health 101 Self Help

Mourning in the time of COVID-19

Grief is a normal, sorrowful reaction to losing someone (or something) you love. Grieving practices like funeral rites are important because they allow those left behind to process and handle their grief, allow people from different places to come together to support the grieving and commemorate the life of a person who has died, and form tighter bonds. 

Grieving during a pandemic, however, presents a new set of challenges. With social isolation policies in place, many family members have not been able to visit or take care of loved ones suffering from the disease, or hold a proper funeral when they pass away. 

If you have lost a loved one during the pandemic, know that it is normal to feel uncertain, unprepared, frustrated, or even angry at yourself. Being away from your normal support networks might also make you feel isolated and lost. But there are some things you can do to help cope with grief over the loss of a loved one during this difficult time. 

  1. “Remember that grief is a natural and ongoing response to loss,” assures Dr. Lillian Gui, a psychologist and former Chairwoman of the Counseling Division of the Psychological Association of the Philippines. “It is a healthy process of feeling comforted and coming to terms with the loss,” she adds. Because times today are more scary and uncertain, you might feel as if your sadness is more pronounced. But this does not mean that you should put your feelings off for another time; do not be afraid of any emotion you experience. 
  1. Don’t get caught up in guilt. When you are robbed of the opportunity to properly say good-bye to someone, you might start ruminating about whether your loved one was in pain before dying or feel guilt that you did not say or do something in time. You might also experience survivor guilt, which makes you feel that you should not enjoy things yourself. Know that it’s okay to experience positive feelings. “No one has the right to tell you how to feel,” Dr. Gui reminds. “There is no right or wrong emotion, so you are entitled to your own feelings.” 
  1. Make the most of virtual support. The in-person support systems you would normally turn to after the death of a loved one, like the extended family members who visit you or the friend who hugs you when you cry, are no longer available now. But you can still find comfort by staying digitally connected with others. While “virtual memorial services” fall short of actual graveside mourning surrounded by friends and family, they can still provide an outlet for collective grief. 
  1. Understand that a funeral during COVID-19 will be different. Acknowledge that there will be things you cannot control, such as the ban on social gatherings. Instead of feeling bad about it, focus on the details that you can control, such as enquiring if it would be possible to do a live stream or a recording of the service, arranging a digital guest book, or sharing messages from those not present. 
  1. Create a space for sharing memories. Sharing good memories about the deceased is helpful to bereaved people, so figure out ways to tell the story of the person who died. For example, you can create a Facebook group where people can share their stories, or organize a video chat conference for the same purpose.  
  1. Plan something special for when you and your loved ones can mourn together again. Think of the socially-distanced mourning you are able to do now as temporary measures. Be reassured that there will be a time when you can hold a more formal, in-person memorial. Planning a future service can even function as part of the grieving process. 
  1. Say good-bye in your own way. In your own time, find a quiet place where you can be alone, and say what you want to say to the other person as if they were still there. 
  1. Create rituals to memorialize your loved one. “Healthy grief is about finding ways to remember loved ones and adjust to life without them,” says Dr. Gui. So go ahead and engage in activities that make you feel attached to the deceased or fill you with fond memories of the person. This could be cooking a favorite recipe that you associate with them, making a playlist of songs that you both enjoyed, or writing a letter to them every week at the same time. 
  1. Be prepared. There will be events and moments in the future that will trigger your memories and sadness. When this happens, give yourself permission to express your grief in ways that work for you. To help sort through your feelings, Dr. Gui suggests journaling, using the following prompts:
  • What did the person mean to you?
  • What did you learn from him or her?
  • What good has come from this difficult experience?
  • What have you learned about yourself, other people, or life?
  • Are there things you appreciate more?
  • Who are the people who have been there for you? Were they the people you expected? What have you learned about them?
  • In what ways have you grown or matured based on this experience?
  1. Understand that you will heal. Rest assured that in time you will feel better and move forward in new and different ways.

The death of a loved one can be very stressful and traumatic, especially if regular mourning rituals are unavailable due to the current pandemic. Be gentle and patient with yourself as you go through the grieving process. “It’s okay to feel grief for days, weeks, or even longer,” says Dr. Gui. “Every person’s situation is different.” Slowly pace yourself and reach out for safe and helpful relationships, even if it’s just through virtual means. Lastly, don’t bypass the pain by bottling up your emotions or rejecting your feelings; this might cause you physical problems or lead into depression.

And if you really cannot contain or handle the pain anymore, seek professional help. MindNation connects individuals with counselors for emotional support and other services via web chat, 24/7, anytime, anywhere. The service is completely confidential and the staff is trained to help you ease your anxieties. Start chatting here: http://m.me/themindnation

Written by Jac of MindNation

Categories
Featured Self Help

7 ways to take care of your Mental Health during the Coronavirus Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has cost millions of people their lives, jobs, and a sense of security and stability. Fear and uncertainty continue to lead to anxiety and depression for many of us. If you are one of those people whose mental well-being has taken a hit during the pandemic, below are some things you can practice to build your mental resilience, feel more optimistic, and boost your emotional wellness:

1. Focus on what you can control

Fear and negative feelings can make you replay in your mind all the ways the virus has upended your life: “No more going to the movies/concerts/malls/restaurants,” “No more gatherings with friends/family,” “Your choice, at work is either to resign or take a pay cut.” Because all these are beyond your control, thinking about them will only worsen your anxieties. So, shift your focus to parts of your life that you can manage: your daily routine, the meals you will prepare for yourself or your family, and new goals you want to achieve now that you have extra time to spare. Take this time to practice mindfulness and putting more effort into your mental well-being as well.

2. Avoid information overload

More often than not, you want to stay on top of the latest developments about the pandemic; but when you stay glued to your phone, TV, or computer, you will most likely get inundated with bad news like increasing mortality rates, overwhelmed health care workers, or other upsetting and depressing stories. To ease this toll on your mental health, studies suggest that you set boundaries by learning to limit the time you spend watching the news or reading the news on your social media feed.

3. Seek out ways to help

News might get a little negative but there are also pandemic-related news that are uplifting from people donating to the less fortunate, new businesses thriving, and other stories of generosity and compassion. Look for these human-interest bits when you scroll through your newsfeeds to minimize your anxiety and depression. Hopefully, those stories will inspire you so that you can also shine your own light and be the positivity you want to see in your community!

4. Take brain breaks and entertain yourself

Do activities that can take your mind off stress, such as rewatching your favorite sitcom on Netflix or Youtube, doing jigsaw puzzles/cross-stitch patters/paint-by-numbers, and engaging in activities that will allow you to move your body which is proven to help boost endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine, all of the feel-good chemicals in your brain. They make you feel more energized and happier. Another activity you can do to cope with the Coronavirus anxiety is video chatting with friends and family. Studies show that a lack of social connection can not only hurt our mental health, but also, ultimately, our physical health. Being isolated can also result in more anxiety and depression.

MindNation has a 24/7 Friend you can chat with for FREE via Facebook Messenger, too! It’s completely confidential and they’re trained to help you ease your anxieties. Start chatting here: http://m.me/themindnation 

5. Set Goals

When there is nothing much to do, resist the temptation to fall into a state of idleness, which will only make your life seem more lost and hopeless. Challenge yourself by taking up new hobbies or projects. It can be as simple as redecorating your room, learning how to bake, learning how to play a musical instrument, or decluttering the different spaces in your house. When you have accomplished something, you will not feel as aimless.

6. Practice kindness with others

Just because you’re not a frontliner does not mean you can’t do your part in helping ease the anxiety. Cook food and share it with those whom you think are in need; donate personal protective equipment to hospitals and other frontliners; order baked goods from your neighbor who was furloughed or laid off from his/her work; get takeout from your favorite restaurant to support small business. There are many ways we can practice kindness to others. We can also do this by checking in with our friends and loved ones and ask how they’re doing. You’ll never know who needs it!

7. End every day with gratitude


Every night before going to bed, think of all that you have accomplished, learned or were blessed with during the day. Research shows that cultivating gratitude will help alleviate any negativity you might be feeling, and reminds you that not everything that’s happening right now is bad or depressing.

Doing any of the above does not mean that you should ignore the dangers of COVID-19. But if you keep a positive outlook and help those whom you can – all while practicing minimum health standards – you can reduce your stress and better manage your anxiety during these uncertain times.

Written by Jacq of Mindnation

Categories
Featured Mental Health 101 Self Help

Coping with Coronavirus Anxiety

2020 is the year of COVID-19 and the virus shows no signs of slowing down. It has claimed lives, closed down businesses, and upended our daily routines. Everyday we watch the news in the hopes that a vaccine has already been developed, but until that happens many of us are left in a state of perpetual helplessness and anxiety. These feelings are understandable as they help keep us mindful and safe, but they also need to be managed so that they do not keep us from enjoying our lives. Here are six suggestions:

1 Limit your exposure to information about the pandemic. Incessantly consuming news about the virus outbreak heightens and perpetuates anxiety. Rather than looking at the news channel all day, define specific times of day to watch the news or read updates. 

2. Do things to lessen anxiety. Exercising, meditating and journaling are all good strategies for managing your anxiety levels.

3. Indulge in distractions. Reading a book, doing a puzzle, watching a movie, or playing a board game can help take your mind off the pandemic, even for just a little while. 

4. Maintain a daily routine. If you live in a country that still has quarantine policies in place, odds are your typical daily regimen has been disrupted. Even if you are isolating at home, try to develop and keep to a revised routine. Predictable schedules provide a semblance of control and can ease anxiety. 

5. Drink moderately. While consuming alcohol may relax you, it’s not a good long-term strategy. Many anxiety-sufferers report surges in anxiety the day following consumption of alcohol. 

6. Consider professional counseling. Psychotherapy can be very helpful during times of extraordinary stress. Having a trained third party who can help you develop goals and support you as you learn to manage your struggle is highly important. Many mental health professionals and organizations have moved their operations to a telehealth format, which means you can seek help while practicing social distancing. 

MINDNATION IS HERE

Need a friend to speak to? Feel free to message our Facebook Page for 24/7 Social Conversations with friends that are available for you anytime. We’re here to listen! It’s completely free and absolutely confidential. http://facebook.com/themindnation

Categories
Employee Wellness Mental Health 101

10 Tips to Manage Stress when you Work From Home (WFH)

Working from home (WFH) may seem like a dream come true in the beginning, but when you also have to manage the kids’ needs, home chores, and/or have to deal with co-workers who think being home means they can call you 24/7, the situation can quickly turn into a nightmare.

Here are some ways you can put in some order (and sanity) in your WFH set-up:

1. Set office hours and make sure everyone knows it

When you are working from your living room or bedroom, it’s easy for family members (especially kids) to assume that you are not working at all and just badger you for attention any time. The same is true for colleagues who think that there is nothing inappropriate with calling you up at midnight for a work-related query. Make it clear to workmates that you are only available during certain hours of the day, and that you will respect their time as well.

2. Establish your territory

Whether your workspace is a small table or a whole room (lucky you!), make sure it is used exclusively for work. This way, you can still separate “work life” from your “personal life.” In addition, furnish your space with pens, papers, and other materials that will be used solely for the “office.” This saves you the time (and stress) from constantly carrying materials back and forth, or misplacing them.

For your kids and other household members, instruct them that your working hours are sacred and you absolutely cannot be disturbed. Or if they do need to talk to you, they should knock first instead of barging in.

3. Discuss and delegate

If your spouse has free time to take over babysitting duties, perfect (don’t forget to return the favor when it’s his or her turn to be busy). If there are no other responsible adults around, have a serious discussion with your children beforehand about the importance of your “work hours”. This gives you peace and quiet to focus on your work but also the assurance that your children are safe and productive.  

4. Manage your deadlines by breaking them into chewable amounts

It is easy to procrastinate when you are working from home, so resist the temptation. Break down large projects into smaller steps, and set deadlines to complete each stage; this will make the overall output less overwhelming to do.

5. Make a to-do list

This might sound pretty basic, but it works! Start each day with a list of the tasks you need to accomplish at home and for work. Rank them according to importance, and organize your day so that you finish these to-do’s as soon as possible. Should you run out of time to do the less urgent tasks, don’t stress! You can always do them tomorrow.

6. Dress the part (even if it’s just the top-half!)

Unless you are mandated to dress up (i.e. you need to do a video-chat with upper management), you can pretty much wear whatever you want at your home office. But while there is no law against wearing pajamas all day, it might be the very thing making you feel sluggish and unmotivated. Better to slip into something that’s comfortable but at the same time semi-professional, comb your hair, put on some makeup – you’ll end up feeling more inspired to work.

7. Keep the Water Cooler Breaks

Don’t you just miss that walk to the water cooler and the talks with your office buddies? Take virtual lunch or coffee breaks together, and chat about non-work related matters. This helps ease the feeling of isolation, and will make you look forward to “going to work.”

8. Actually, just take breaks in general!

You do not have to be chained at your desk the whole time. Take a snack break or do some stretches every now and then. Come back to work when you are feeling more relaxed and refreshed.

9. Clock out and “go home”

Because the office desk is just a few steps away from the bedroom, it’s tempting to just keep working because your think you can stop anytime (which is actually counterproductive). Ignore the urge to work overtime! When office hours are over, shut down your laptop, keep it away, and ready yourself for home duties so you can properly rest. Your mind and body will thank you for it.

10. Practice gratitude

At the end of the day, the an attitude of gratitude will set you up to a calmer and more positive mood. While our situations vary greatly at home, we must always focus on the now, everything that went right, and how we can be better and do better tomorrow!

With the COVID-19 pandemic showing no signs of letting up, working from home is now becoming the norm for many. The set-up will take some getting used to, but by prioritizing your needs and building your mental resilience, you can settle into a comfortable routine in no time.

How do you practice calmness and routines when working from home?

Written by Jacq of MindNation

Categories
Mental Health 101 Self Help

Making meaningful connections in the time of social distancing

While having alone time is a great way to recharge, extended periods of isolation can be detrimental to your health. In the past, many of us may have felt lonely from time to time. These feelings are usually short-term and don’t usually harm our mental health. However, the longer the quarantine goes on, these feelings turn long-term and can be associated with increased risk of mental health problems including depression, anxiety, and increased stress.

While it is imperative that everyone isolate at home during this time, social isolation or social distancing does not mean that we no longer have opportunities to connect with those we love. Thanks to technology and social media, there are many unique ways we can maintain ties and strengthen relationships while respecting social distancing rules. Here are some ways:

Create online gatherings to celebrate special occasions. If you typically celebrate birthdays by eating out as a group, you can still do that in the virtual world. Download video conferencing apps like Zoom or RingCentral, then spread the word that everyone has to be online at a specified time with their own meals at the ready. When everyone has logged on, dine together! And even if there are no occasions to celebrate, it will still be fun to make video chats with friends and family a regular thing.

Make new rituals. Miss your teachers and classmates at the yoga studio or the Zumba class? Has Sunday mass been part of your weekly ritual? You can still do all these through social media tools like Facebook Live or Instagram Stories. Muster up the discipline/motivation to make worship or working out part of your lockdown routine, as if it were the pre-pandemic days, just so you still have a semblance of connection and normalcy.

Tired of video calls? Try playlist collaborations or watch parties. Sure, video calls can get quite tiring. We can connect with those we love by sharing music and flicks we’ve been hooked on. (It’s also a great way to find new songs and titles to love!) Spotify has a feature where you and your friends can collaborate on Playlists, and Netflix Parties enable you to watch new movies or series simultaneously with cool chat features!

Help however you can. If you are in a position to give assistance to those who are in seemingly tougher situations (i.e. senior citizens living alone, front liners), you can do so safely, perhaps by having food delivered to them, or contributing money to fundraising activities. Volunteerism has been proven to have a positive effect on one’s emotional well-being, as well as make you feel that you are part of the community.

While it is for our absolute safety and the safety of those we love to keep physical distance, it does not translate to being emotionally distant as well. Now more than ever, we should find cooler and creative ways to show love and support especially to those who need it most!

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Need a friend to speak to? Feel free to message our Facebook Page for 24/7 Social Conversations with friends that are available for you anytime. We’re here to listen! It’s completely free and absolutely confidential. http://facebook.com/themindnation

#EasetheAnxiety

Written by Jacq Chua of MindNation