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Since the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic, many of us, even those who have not been infected by the virus, will choose to quarantine in our homes for the upcoming weeks. Fear and anxiety about the disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions. The situation might be even more challenging to those people who were suffering from mental health issues before the pandemic. The commonly used coping strategies like going out and meeting people are not recommended right now but there are still things you can do to support your mental and physical well-being.  Here are a few pointers that could help you survive spiralling negative thoughts about this uncertain time.

Stay close to your normal routine

The importance of daily routine is even more important right now. Regular sleep routine keeps up the mood and helps to adjust to changes in daily routine. Get up from the bed every day and dress up. It might be that your appetite is either smaller or bigger than normally but try to take care of regular eating hours as well.

Do things that make you feel good

Try to do things that make you feel good. This can mean anything from reading a book to physical exercise or whatever works for you. Even though you can´t go for a walk outside, you can still do other type of exercise inside. Youtube is full of free yoga classes and other work-outs as well as relaxation and mindfulness exercises.  Avoid news and social media if you find it distressing.

Stay connected

Even though meeting people face-to-face is not possible there are still other ways to reach out to your friends and family. Stay connected with friends, family and colleagues via email, social media, video conferencing or telephone. Isolation is also a symptom on depression but staying long time isolated from other people will only make you feel worse. If you are having troubles getting in touch with friends and family you can ask them to check up on you regularly. 

Remember, you are not alone

Seek help from a professional: Talk to your doctor or a mental health professional if you feel like you need more support. Look into services offering online therapy. For example Willingness is offering free support on their Facebook chat to everyone during this pandemic. Also, online therapy sessions are offered. It’s okay to need support, especially so during this time.

Practise self-compassion

Be kind to yourself: these are challenging times, it’s normal to feel depressed in this scenario even if you don’t have depression. Be understanding with yourself, what’s happening is not your fault. 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 avoid contracting the virus.

Vilhelmiina Välimäki is a Clinical Psychologist at Willingness Clinic. She works both with children and adults. You can contact her on vilhelmiina@willingness.com.mt or on 79291817