Keeping Steady - Dealing with Covid-19 Stress
Keeping Steady - Dealing with Covid-19 Stress

Posted on 21 May 2020

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As the circuit breaker continues, “cabin fever” is settling in for many of us. The usual cafes, bowling alleys and karaoke joints aren’t open, so there’s no place to hang out and relax. And anyone would feel stifled, bored and stressed out at being cooped up at home with a seemingly-constant flow of bad news.

For many of us, the uncertainty surrounding this outbreak is the hardest thing to handle. We don’t know when we will get to go out again, or what we should be doing. With infection numbers rising daily and our worries mounting, we can get easily overwhelmed and find ourselves lost.

That’s why it’s all the more important to keep steady by:

1. Stemming the flow of information

We are more connected than ever before – and in these stressful times, that’s not necessarily a good thing. While it’s important to keep up-to-date on the latest advisories and best practices, there’s also a lot of sensationalist news out there that aims to elicit a shock response.

Keep your daily reading to a scan of credible news sources, such as MOH and the Straits Times. (Or reliable international news websites, if so inclined.) Make sure to step away from the Whatsapp messages and Facebook feeds if it becomes overwhelming, or takes up too much of your day.

Alternatively, you could delegate someone to only share reliable news with you. And of course, make sure you share only verified information yourself – don’t contribute to the whirlpool of poorly-sourced facts and tabloid-style headlines.

2. Keeping yourself balanced

As mentioned, it’s the uncertainty of it all that gets to us. We become mired in questions with no answers like “When will it end?” or “What will happen to my school/friends/family?” and despair at them.

Regain a measure of control and security by focusing on what you can do. For example, you can take care of yourself – eat healthy, exercise, get social interaction through calls or videoconferences or team games. You can practice good hygiene and healthcare by washing your hands regularly and wearing a mask when you go out. You can take time out for yourself as well, and use this ‘holiday’ period as a chance to get a good rest and do some self-reflection.

Caution: don’t get caught up in the productivity myth either. Sometimes, we see our feeds full of people baking bread and learning Python while playing with the kids, and feel ashamed of ourselves for “laying around”. Remember that there’s no shame in resting when you need to. You are using your mental and physical resources to deal with the strain of weathering a huge virus outbreak. Whatever you’re doing is already good enough because you’re staying alive.

3. Helping out

Those who focus on others in need and support their communities, especially during times of crises, tend to be happier and healthier than those who act selfishly. So, helping others not only makes a difference to those you aided, but it helps you stay healthy and balanced as well.

While you can volunteer by making masks for those in need or donating your Solidarity Budget payment, many small things can help us get through these trying days. Being socially responsible, having a smile for your delivery driver or checkout cashier, or helping to calm family members in distress – doing a little can go a long way.

Remember, we’re weathering this storm together! With each of us doing our small part, we can emerge strong and well.

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