Wellbeing and Mental Health During Covid-19
Safeguarding our physical health is of utmost importance these days, but what about our mental health and wellbeing?
We interviewed mental health experts, Safe Space, who put together a toolbox of coping strategies and resources to help us through this trying time. Whether it’s quelling fear, managing stress, or making the best use of our time as many of us are forced to slow down and stay put – they weigh in on how to best approach this new reality and put our wellbeing first.
They were kind enough to send out our questions to their team of counsellors and the answers were compiled collectively for your reference. We hope this can be a useful tool and reassuring resource!
How can we as companies best support the mental health of our colleagues and staff during this time?
Have a good work from home plan, regular communication with your employees and look for mental health solutions that can support your employees remotely. Examples of these would be:
● Tele-therapy apps (online counselling) e.g. Safe Space
● Meditation Apps e.g. MindFi
In times of crisis, these direct services could be more effective at getting people immediate help compared to traditional health care providers.
What are some skills we can practice to help keep our own anxiety and stress under check during these uncertain times?
The first would be to be kind to yourself. We’re going through a global pandemic and it makes sense for those of us with pre-existing mental health challenges like anxiety and depression (and those of us who love them!) to anticipate a worsening of symptoms during this time. Knowing this might happen can go a long way toward helping us cope if it does.
You can use these prompts to develop an emotional first aid plan:
● When my symptoms worsen, something my partner can do to support me is…
● When my partner’s symptoms worsen, something that helps me feel more patient is…
Don’t forget to validate your suffering, remember that you’ve gotten through mental health challenges before. Offering yourself some compassion can help you tap into your resilience.
How can we gauge what is a healthy level of concern vs paranoia or excessive situational stress, worry or panic?
Everyone gets a little anxious sometimes e.g. rushing a sales proposal with a tight deadline.
Paranoia is focused on a specific source of anxiety and it is persistent about a specific fear e.g being constantly watched. It is rooted in a false belief and people experiencing paranoid thoughts are often preoccupied by these thoughts.
Therapy can help a person understand their anxiety, confront false beliefs, and assess the effects that false beliefs have on their life.
What is a healthy way to engage with others when we are not meant to be social?
Just because there’s social distancing does not mean we have to be socially isolated. Arrange with your friends and family to have an online:
● Netflix Party
● Virtual Book Club
● Virtual Dance Parties
● Game Night (try FB live or Instagram Live)
If you do meet a person in real life, follow WHO recommendations and avoid handshakes.
For expat members in our space who are worried about loved ones at home – what are some ways to cope with feelings of homesickness, concern or distance?
This is normal and their feelings are valid. Try to find ways to connect online and have a schedule with loved ones on when to connect. If communication is limited, we recommend engaging a therapist to talk to about their concerns.
Talking to a therapist does not mean they are mentally ill but the conversation with your therapist can help to give you sound advice and a fresh perspective on how to cope with your current situation.
Are there other resources we should be aware of that can help us monitor our own wellbeing?
There are a number of ways to support your mental health during periods of self-isolation or quarantine.
● Remind yourself that this is a temporary period of isolation to slow the spread of the virus.
● Remember that your effort is helping others in the community to avoid contracting the virus.
● Stay connected with friends, family and colleagues via email, social media, video conferencing or telephone.
● Connect with others via Mental Wellness Singapore Facebook group
● Engage in healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing.
● Keep regular sleep routines and eat healthy foods.
● Try to maintain physical activity e.g Youtube exercise videos
As some of us have more time to practice self-care and personal growth/development. Are there any suggested online courses, practices or books you would recommend?
During this time of crisis, get back to the basics in looking after your overall health (not just mental health).
● Choose nourishing foods
● Move your body each day
● Get the amount of sleep that works best for you
● Limit alcohol and drugs
For online learning, we recommend utilising your SkillsFuture credit if you haven’t already. If you’re looking for free courses, there are 450 free online courses by Ivy league schools HERE.
Some classes we recommend are:
● Health & Society – Harvard
● Buddhism & Modern Psychology – Princeton
Are there any other tips your counsellors can share with us?
We now have time to really focus on ourselves when we’re not busy with having a social life. Read that book, play that video game and exercise while watching a youtube video for example. So many things we may have put off and now maybe the right time to start doing (at home). Stay safe everyone 🙂– Safe Space’s Jasmine Yeo (clinical psychologist)