Covid-19 Lockdown and Mental Health: It’s OK Not to Be OK
For some, lockdown has provided more time in which to work on projects and self-development that has otherwise been pushed aside
However, it's important to remember that if you don't feel able to use this time 'productively', that's OK too, says therapist Chnanis Kongsuwan Ladha
If you are struggling to cope with Covid-19, you don't have to do it alone – find a therapist here
Let’s make the most of it! Let’s be creative and stay positive! Let’s spend this time to improve yourself! I’m inspired to see an abundance of positive and constructive posts through social media during this past week. It is good to see that people are handling this situation so well.
While there are positive posts and advice everywhere, there is another perspective that I would like to bring up. As we are scrolling through the social media, some may feel that there is something wrong with them that they can’t cope positively, that they are feeling overwhelmed, emotional, and that it's impossible to be that productive and creative.
Being positive is not that you need to be jolly, happy, creative, and productive all the time. It is not that you can’t feel anything negative about the situation that is happening. It is not that you must ‘make the most of it’ in every case. But, being positive can be just a simple acceptance of what it is with understanding and calmness.
If we really look at the situation, this global pandemic, the lockdown of numerous countries and what the world is going through, it is truly unusual. The majority of us have never experienced any circumstance like this before in our lives. Many of us need to be away from our loved ones, scared of losing them, worried about our own health, daunted by all the news and information that we constantly receive.
What I would like to say is it is OK if you are feeling overwhelmed, fearful, emotional, and freaking out. These are normal reactions of our brain that is trying to find solutions for us in this atypical time. You don’t need to force yourself to be ‘positive’ if you can’t. On the other hand, acceptance is what I would like us all to practise and here are some ideas that you can do:
1) Let go of the pressure of ‘making the most of it’
Yes, it is a good opportunity to learn new skills, improve your knowledge, reflect on yourself, be creative, and making your in-door life fun. There is nothing wrong with that, and they are constructive ways to cope with what is happening. But, there is also absolutely nothing wrong with allowing yourself to slow down, be emotional, lying down as long as you want to, or crying it out if you need to. As I mentioned, it is an unusual time, where the majority of us have never experienced anything like this in our lives. It is totally appropriate ‘not to be OK’.
2) Know that fear is a normal reaction
If you are scared, anxious, worried, and don’t know what to do. This is normal. These feelings are the body’s natural response to danger, which occurs when we feel threatened, under pressure or in a stressful situation. Accept your feelings as they are, there is no right or wrong, there is no need to put on a brave hat. You only need to know that these feelings are normal and they tend to calm down once you accept them instead of suppressing them.
3) Allow yourself to be imperfect
No matter what you have seen on your social media, you don’t need to be like any of that. There is no need to create a perfect artwork for Instagram, cook a perfect meal for one to post on Facebook, set a perfect quarantine routine with your family, capture a perfect isolation yoga pose, record perfect funny group quarantine dance moves, or make a perfect silliest meme. Instead of trying to do things perfectly for the moment, allow yourself to just do things as you can, imperfectly. Allow yourself time and space not to be ‘ideal’, not for any particular reason, but just because you don’t need to be, it is what it is.
4) Accept your thoughts and your feelings
Yes, it is a lot to take in, a lot to process and to cope. I totally agree. If you feel that this is too much, it’s because it is, and denial will not help. The current situation is the reality we all need to face. All the worrying thoughts and feelings that occur are bound to happen. But if you feel that it is too difficult to get through this on your own, reach out, talk to someone that you trust, stay connected with your loved ones, ask for help from your community.
5) Remember, one day at a time
This situation will pass. We will eventually get through this. Just remember to take it one day at a time. You, everyone and the world don’t need to try to find the solution and see the way out all at once. Take each moment as it comes, one minute at a time, one day at a time.
If you are feeling that the negative feelings have become too overwhelming and threatening, reach out for help. Find a professional therapist who can work with you by phone or online. Talking it out and having someone helps to put your thoughts in different perspectives will ease off your emotional burden.
All in all, I would like to say again that it is OK not to be OK and we will get through this together.