“Hey Salmah, I think you have a better understanding of mental health, I need to understand how to help a friend who I think might be going through a decline in mental health”.-excerpt of my conversation with a colleague
(Picture credit: pixabay)
It’s been more than four months since the course of our lives has changed globally. Who would have expected that we would have to wear face masks on all social gatherings and interactions at the beginning of the year? These unprecedented times have come with great surprises as a lot of people have lost jobs, lost months of schooling, missed out on so many social gatherings, become addicted to social media, cancelled travel plans, separation from significant other, family and colleagues. Even simple acts like regular hand washing has had great effect on our sanity (I get pissed sometimes on days when I have multiple errands to run and have to wash my hands at each destination).
It’s hard for everyone and maybe twice as hard for people dealing with mental illnesses. (Picture credit: pixabay ).
When a colleague contacted me to inquire about helping people with mental health struggles, I felt it would be beneficial to share tips on the blog. As someone who has had close contact and relationship with mental health professionals whilst also doing a lot of research myself on mental health, I have some hacks that have helped me in this period.
I try to build a stronger connection with the absolute Being and it has helped me stay grounded even with the struggles. On a typical day, I pray 5 times daily as a Muslim, read at least one page of the Quran, read the translation of a verse on the Muslim pro app on my phone and reflect on it, listen to an Islamic podcast and also find some minutes to talk to God. I find that talking to the One I believe in about all my problems and struggles helps me to calm down, a sort of connection beyond physical.
Sometimes my escape route or leisure spot is social media. I regularly enjoy watching YouTube videos, connecting with strangers on twitter, getting gists and viewing status updates on WhatsApp. Social media can also get overwhelming especially with a lot of sensitive news flying around so I make sure I take media breaks. I take an entire day off my phone every month, it’s very important and helpful. I also filter the news I see on social media, sometimes, I deliberately avoid watching some videos because they might affect my mental health.
I designed a glass jar and filled it with notes where I wrote things I loved about myself or positive things I want to come to existence. Every day (not regular about it though), I pick a note and repeat the affirmation to myself in front of my mirror. It helps my esteem a lot
CONNECT WITH LOVED ONES
This has perhaps been the hardest for me as I find that my withdrawal from personal connections has increased daily. I talked to my healthcare professionals about it but I still try to deliberately bond with family especially, have conversations with my mum, play with my siblings, show them interesting stuffs from my social media and prepare new meals I learnt off YouTube for the family. I also try to schedule group video calls with my friends and we gist, laugh and banter. Trying to check on acquaintances occasionally also helps in keeping sane.
Take a drive or a walk while following guidelines, wear your mask, keep a distance and use your alcohol based hand sanitizer. Sometimes staying in enclosed spaces over a long period of time can cause low moods. I like going for grocery shopping at the mall once in a while to keep some sense of relationship with the society.
Buy a chocolate bar for yourself, order some cake or bake, buy pizza or shawarma, have some ice cream. Enjoy! The world is quite intense right now so looking after ourselves is the most important thing. What makes you happy? Dress up, skincare date, cleaning your space or ordering food (what I love!). Just do it, spoil yourself, you deserve a treat and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Enjoy, this life is short.
Is there any tip that has worked well for you in this period to keep sane? Please share in the comments.