A Reflection on Mental Health During COVID-19

There seems to be an almost universal sense of disquiet, a deeply seeded restlessness clouding over us, an unsettledness permeating our once unquestionably optimistic future. A future where opportunities and meaningful change were once considered inevitable, only for it to come crashing down, like dominos, one after the other, a slow cascading change. Our world today is that of a dystopian reality, one we, as a people, are very ill-equipped to deal with.

We are constantly bombarded with stressors living through a pandemic. A pandemic that is of itself a traumatic experience. Many people have experienced sudden and drastic changes to their daily routines, routines that were once considered to be grounding, the mundanity of the everyday a comfort now lost. We all handle stress differently, I can only speak for myself as I reflect on how stress is so deeply internalized that I often don’t realize it until my jaw starts to ache or a pimple pops up out of nowhere. I’ve personally felt a sense of regression in being confined to my home for over four months; indignant at having an exciting project I’d spent months preparing for be put aside.

Though weekly meditation insta-lives are always appreciated, it’s not enough. Here are a few things I have been doing that have helped me throughout this pandemic:

  1. Exercise, and not necessarily for the reason you may think. Though I am not an active person by any feat of the imagination, it does provide one thing I had been missing: structure. It’s a routine I’ve stuck to, because on exercise days I know what I’ll be doing, when I’ll be eating, showering, what masks and scrubs I’m going to use that week; it all centers around 30 minutes of physical exertion. 
  2. Journaling. I’ve kept up a public ‘daily log’ on instagram that has served as a tool for me to reflect on my days and/or explore certain ideas that have crossed my mind. I find that just the act of reflecting allows for catharsis and eases my mind before bed.
  3. Distraction. Delving into mind numbing interests like rewatching Gilmore Girls. Though my favorite way to quiet my mind is to turn on a podcast, prepare my paint supplies and see where the mood takes me.
  4. Reaching out. Having a close-knit friend group is the biggest blessing a girl can have. We’ve been through a lot together, each of us taking turns being the strong one while the other experiences a breakdown. There’s something to be said about feeling comfortable with showing vulnerability around people you trust.
  5. Switching off. Social media is a cess pool of constant badgering of breaking news, each more horrifying than the next. Taking a day off once a week has been key in maintaining my anxiety levels.

I would like to iterate that I am not an expert on mental health, but the above are what I have found to be essential. Though, even now, as we return to our offices and slowly reintegrating back into society, I find myself nervous to return to life as it was, the unease still lingering. Anxiety fills my lungs just thinking about potentially putting someone else in danger because of my own individual wants and desires. It’s something I’m struggling with, and I know I’m not alone.

I hope you are exercising the appropriate amount of caution and above all I hope you are being kind to yourself.  You deserve kindness and gentleness; maybe even give yourself a little cheeky kiss on the shoulder, you deserve it.

 

 

About the Author
Nauf Alfahad is a Digital Editor at a leading publishing company with a background in Applied Linguistics. Her interests range a wide expanse driven by her need to understand the human condition, her appreciation for well curated aesthetics, and achieving that inner glow.  
For more on this beauty and brains, follow her at @riyadhblogs
illustration by the ever so talented @_frdesign