Psychological Wellbeing

A professor friend of mine is of the opinion that Social Distancing should not have been used to indicate people staying at a distance from each other in order to avoid the spread of the Corona Virus. He says that the proper work should have been Physical Distancing.

I agree with him.

Self-quarantine does not mean that you are not in contact with people socially in other ways. In fact, understanding that staying at home does not mean cutting yourself away from people is very important. Here I will share a few ways in which you can make the most of your distancing as we all join hands to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

Social Distancing is not Good for you; Physical Distancing is.

We are social beings and not being in a relationship where one feels loved and accepted has serious effects on one’s overall wellbeing and even how long they live. The Harvard Study of Adult Development clearly showed this. It is important that you get in touch with friends and family via phone calls, emails, texts or in some other way available to you.

Speak to Someone

This point is closely connected to the above but it is different in an important way. Just because you are living with people how might be family does not necessarily mean that you feel comfortable being vulnerable to any of them. It is important to share the emotions, both positive and negative, that you might be facing as you stay home.

Look for People who have “tested” Positive

Without ignoring the seriousness of the pandemic, don’t allow yourself to be with apocalyptic people. You know this kind of person because after you speak with them, you end up feeling more fearful, frustrated, upset, anxious and even angry. Look for positive people; those who are aware that the situation is serious but maintain hope and faith.

Understand that it will end – but when it will end is not up to you.

There are many real fears of losing jobs, with people unable to make money and feed themselves and their families. You might or will face the consequences of a slowed-down economy. Other than taking seriously the precautions that the medical professionals have suggested, you cannot do anything else. Accepting this condition is not being powerless but accepting that there are many forces we are subject to and fighting against them blindly is not very smart.

It will hurt. Possibly, it will hurt to death. Prepare.

If you lose your job and are not able to make money for yourself and your family, it is already hurting. But it might hurt even more. You might have a friend or family member who might get sick. You might get sick yourself. You or your loved one might get sick to a point of death. So, prepare and prepare well. Whereas the first level of preparation is to avoid the suffering by taking the precautions seriously, the second level of preparation is to accept the suffering it might bring and be ready to go through that pain and heal so that you might thrive when it is over, or you are ready to meet your maker if you die.

Practice Gratitude.

There are “motivational speakers” who go around saying that this is a chance to start that side hustle or learn a new skill and if you don’t, you are indisciplined. Whereas there is some truth in it, your first goal is to survive this. It is okay to be anxious at times but don’t let it overcome you. So, practice gratitude. Be happy that you are alive and notice those things that you have. Imagine how your life would be if you did not have the things and people who are in your life.

Move!

There is a temptation to sit all day long. To simply sit and watch movies, eat and sleep. This might affect your emotional wellbeing. Take a walk, jump a little or do some stretches even if it is on your bed. Exercise helps you to reduce weight which is associated with depression, send oxygen and nutrition to your brain and extremities and importantly, produce feel-good hormones that lift your mood and reduce anxiety and stress.

Eat Healthily.

There is a very good chance that you will eat a lot of junk food or constantly eat since you have nothing much to do. If you eat a lot of carbohydrates while you are barely moving a lot, you might end up having some blood or heart diseases. Some fruits such as the thorn melon are said to boost your mood in addition to your immune system.

Cut Down on the News.

Too much information is not good especially if it is constantly negative. During a pandemic like this, it is normal for people to look for information and watch all kinds of news from media outlets. Since most of this news is negative, you might end up feeling anxious and depressed. Just know enough and then watch or read something positive or different.

Reduce Social Media Exposure

Have you seen memes of people under their blankets, watching funny videos or pictures on social media at 2 am? Well, whereas social media can help up remain connected and entertained in these uncertain times, too much of it is also related to depression. Psychological studies, before the pandemic, showed that people who spend too much time on social media tend to be more depressed. It is easy to compare one’s life with that of others or with a better past. This comparison leaves many feeling worse.

Sleep Enough.

What happens when you have so much time? Some people will say that they sleep. Sleep is good. It is so good that if you do not sleep enough, you weaken your immune system, can easily get depressed and irritable among other negative repercussions. However, too much sleep is equally harmful! Most sleep psychologists recommend between 7-9 hours for most people. There are few people who need more and others who need less but for you to decide that you need more or less, you might want to visit your sleep psychologist. More on this in another post.

Pray.

Due to ignorance and at times, the arrogance of some religious leaders and their followers, religion is often derided even by people who do so publicly but pray privately. Religion is the expression of the mark of infinity in humans. Talk to God according to your religious tradition. In addition to religion having a protective role to your mental health, prayer has a real impact on the history of individuals who go ahead shape history. Pray, brothers and sisters, pray without ceasing.

Help.

When we help others, we feel good about who we are and often our moods go up. help someone by sending money via online platforms like Mpesa to organizations working to face the pandemic, call someone and listen to them, give food and drinks to your watchman, remember the poor and the organizations that help them and do something, look for that elderly neighbor and see that they are not alone.

Face the darkness and the voices.

Many people will tell you how they fear silence and having nothing to do because it brings up old memories and issues they do not want to deal with. You have heard about going towards the light? I now tell you, go into the darkness and face the monsters lying within. Face that darkness of anger and frustration and weakness that you have suppressed and bring light to it. Otherwise, it will cause so much darkness into your life you will wish for Corona Virus. Listen to those voices that have been trying to catch your attention. Listen to the voices of your wife or husband, brother or sister that you had effectively avoided by always being busy. Talk and reconcile. Repair important relationships of the people who will remember you when you are gone.