Everyone is under Covid pressure; here are coping mechanisms

A picture of a depressed woman. 

Photo credit: Shutterstock

What you need to know:

  • In place of physical meetings, be creative and innovative
  • Find a reason to be happy.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the impact of Covid-19 on our mental health and gave the example of Michelle Obama, who admitted to “low-grade” depression.

I knew that Covid-19 and mental health was a big issue, but I didn’t quite appreciate the depth of this until last Tuesday, when we hosted my colleague and fellow columnist Prof Lukoye Atwoli, the new Dean of Medical College, Aga Khan University, who gave us some interesting perspectives.

In my previous piece I made it clear that there is no shame in admitting that you are not okay and taking that brave step to seek professional help or speaking to a trusted friend or family member.

Given the interest elicited by the webinar, I thought I should go a step further today and offer some practical tips I found useful in dealing with the stress occasioned by the pandemic.

Level of stress

We all need to learn how to deal with stress, especially at this time. Unless you are out of touch with reality, or you know something the rest of us don’t, what I know for sure is that at one point, during this pandemic, everyone is bound to experience some level of stress, “low-grade” depression or burnout.

Because sharing is caring, today’s piece is your go-to guide on the dos and don’ts of dealing with stress as gleaned from a page torn right out of the good prof’s presentation on Tuesday.

First, you need to be careful about where you are getting your information from and how much of that information you are consuming. Ignore the viral conspiracy theories and if the rising number of infections makes you anxious, I suggest you go easy on the news.

Sometimes you just have to log out, switch off the TV and join us for a walk in Karura.In an era of ‘social distancing”, experts advise you to maintain your social connections with your loved ones.

Creative and innovative

In place of physical meetings, be creative and innovative: you can do video chats, and regular phone calls, as long as you are speaking to someone who makes you feel better.

On the same note, find a reason to be happy. In the midst of everything going wrong, I’m pretty sure you can find something to be grateful about—and that makes a huge difference.

Eat well, sleep well, rest and exercise. Cliché but true. Do not forget to pair up physical with mental exercise, such as reading. Lastly, be kind and helpful to others. We are all going through it, but where you can, be kind to those who are having it rougher than you.

In the don’ts category, for God’s sake, don’t use alcohol, tobacco or drugs as a clutch to cope. Don’t overindulge in work, sleep or food and try not to worry about things you cannot control.

Above all else, keep a positive attitude. I know it is hard—even for relentless optimists like me, but it is the only way to keep your head in these tough times.