Mental health and wellbeing during the Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak Author Paul Mugambi

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The outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19 has impacted people in varying ways on global scale. It is understandable that during times like this,

people may be feeling afraid, worried, anxious and overwhelmed by the constantly changing alerts and media coverage regarding the spread of the virus.

Disabled persons have lived experience on this and with the additional Corona concerns its even worse.

While it is important to stay informed, the following are some mental health and wellbeing tips and strategies to continue looking after ourselves and

each other during these difficult times.

The tips are based on  experiences and great lessons as a  global citizen. 

Manage your exposure to media coverage as this can increase feelings of fear and anxiety. Be mindful of sources of information and ensure you are accessing

good quality and accurate information. Follow a “calm yet cautious” approach – do you best to remain calm and be mindful not to contribute to the widespread panic that can hinder efforts to

positively manage the outbreak. Ensure you are following directives issued by the government and WHO  medical advice and observe good hygiene habits.

 

Show compassion and kindness to one another – these times of fear, isolation (both physical and social) and uncertainty are when it is most important that

we strengthen our sense of community by connecting with and supporting each other. Remind ourselves that we can manage this much better together in solidarity,

and that COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate – it can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, disability, nationality, or ethnicity.

 

Actively manage your wellbeing by maintaining routines where possible, connect with family and friends (even if not in person), staying physically active,

eating nutritious foods and seeking additional support by contacting government or further professional support as required.  

 

Strategies to cope with social distancing, self-isolation or quarantine

 

Going into a period of social distancing, self-isolation or quarantine may feel daunting or overwhelming, and can contribute to feelings of helplessness

and fear. In addition to the above, I  encourage the following.

 

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  • Perspective – try to see this time as unique and different, not necessarily bad, even if it something you didn’t necessarily choose
  • Connection – think of creative ways to stay connected with others, including social media, email and phone
  • Be generous to others – giving to others in times of need not only helps the recipient, it enhances your wellbeing too. Is there a way to help others?

around you?

Thanks to those who have supported in kind the cases I presented to them.

  • Stay connected with your values. Don’t let fear or anxiety drive your interactions with others. I am also in this together!
  • Daily routine – create a routine that prioritises things you enjoy and even things you have been meaning to do but haven’t had enough time. Read that

book, watch that show, take up that new hobby.

  • Try to see this as a new and unusual period that might even have some benefits.
  • Limit your exposure to news and media. Perhaps choose specific times of day when you will get updates, and ensure they are from reputable and reliable

sources.

In my case I don’t own a TV.

Staying connected through the COVID-19 crisis

 

Research after the sierra Leone Ebola shows evidence of the significance of connection through epidemics.  It found that residents

in Sierra Leone experienced increased social connectedness, which offset the negative mental health impacts of the pandemic.

 

As connection is so important during this time, here are some tips on staying connected to others during this time. Remember – we are all in this together.

 

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  •  If there is someone you think may struggle through social isolation, it is important to reach out to them and let them know you care:

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◦ Call them to check on their welfare

◦ Send an email

◦ Leave a note under their door

◦ Don’t underestimate the power you have to offer hope to another person.

I have evidently seen work miracle around my self-Isolation tunnel.

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  • I encourage people to get creative with how they interact, here are some ways to stay connected if self-isolating:

I have greatly borrowed from the recent interaction in the social media.

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◦ Set up a gratitude tree – where every member posts a message or sends a text to other members to share something, they are grateful for.

◦ Find a buddy, or group of, to set daily challenges with. These could include a healthy habit, a mindful practice, a creative pursuit. Be sure to encourage

and check in daily to stay motivated.

 

◦ Set dates and times to watch the same TV shows/movies with someone and message each other your thoughts along the way… kind of like Goggle Box but you’re

not sharing the couch!

Ask random questions in the social media to make guys think!

◦ If your local community has one, join its social media group! This will keep you up to date with what’s going on directly around you. It may also include

ways you can perhaps reach out and connect with someone less fortunate than you and ways to assist them.

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Helping children cope through COVID-19

 

This is an uncertain time for everyone, and children may be impacted by fear and anxiety. Here are some tips on how to ensure your children are supported;

 

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  • Give your children extra attention and reassurance. Where possible, minimise their exposure to media and social media that may heighten anxiety
  • Acknowledge your own feelings about the situation and let children know it’s okay to share their own feelings
  • Include your children in plans and activities around the house
  • If you don’t see an improvement in 4 weeks, or if you’re concerned, seek professional help (earlier if needed)

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Reputable sources of information

 

  • World Health Organisation –

http://www.who.int

Where to go for support?

 

 

It is extremely important to seek out help if you feel you need it. I want to remind everyone that counselling services are readily available.

 

The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.

 Mugambi Paul is a public policy,  diversity,  inclusion and sustainability expert.

2018  Chief minister award winner

“making inclusion happen”