MENTAL HEALTH IN THE PANDEMIC

We have heard so much about this topic, but what exactly does it mean? What can we still learn from it?

Specialist Glaucia Rosana Guerra Benute, Post Doctorate in Clinical Psychology with focus on Depression and Anxiety, shares her knowledge and experience with us today.

Life went on normally when the world suddenly seemed to “turn upside down” and our lives were conditioned by a series of limitations. In order to take care of our health and those we love, social isolation, distance from loved ones and protection within the home have been imposed. As a result, the current pandemic has caused our routines and priorities to be completely readjusted. Before, it would be unimaginable to think that we were so exposed to a danger that “lives everywhere” and, even worse, it is invisible, we cannot know exactly where it is and, therefore, it does not give us security for the defense, for the removal, for protection. Thus, life has brought us into contact with what is perhaps the greatest fear we have, that of dying or of losing those we love. 

Impotently, we look at what is happening asking for everything to pass quickly. Hoping to resume our routines and meet the people we love, if possible, without any major losses along the way! 

All of this puts our mental health at risk. However, each of us will have different emotional reactions, as everything will depend on our history of past life, personal characteristics, family relationships and what we feel we are losing or that we may lose: people, income, work, among others. 

With so many sudden changes coupled with the uncertainty that this pandemic has brought about our future, we may have exacerbated feelings of fear, stress, sleep disorders, difficulty concentrating, irritability due to loss of autonomy and personal freedom, impotence to protect loved ones, depression, anxiety. 

It is time to learn to take care of our mental health that has been neglected or forgotten so many times. The question is: what can I do to somehow take care of my mental health? 

The pandemic, which has taken so much away from us, should also enable us to make some assessments in search of positivity. Of course, depending on the experience you had, it will be more or less easy to do this exercise. The loss of a loved one and the pain of grief will make this exercise more difficult to do right now. 

However, here are some guidelines to minimize the risks of developing mental health problems: 

– It is healthy to be aware of the events arising from the pandemic in Brazil and in the world, but too much information during most of the day can be considered a source of stress. Select specific times of the day to update yourself, always from reliable and official sources, but do not expose yourself to constant information; 

– Try to keep in touch with loved ones by getting involved and learning to use technology in a playful way; 

– Do not mirror what other people say they are doing. We need to focus on our possibilities. Try to find small pleasures during the day; 

– Try to focus on the benefits of isolation. It is about personal protection and loved ones. You are the centerpiece in stopping the pandemic. It is an opportunity to learn to live with you and to be fulfilled with it. It is for a determined time, soon we will be able to resume our family/social reunions; 

– If you find that your mental health is not well, feeling exaggerated fear, irritation, depression, anxiety, do not be ashamed to seek professional help. Many professionals are conducting distance service. The sooner you get help, the faster you can recover; 

– If you are working remotely, take short breaks. If you have children who are at home and need attention, whether for help at school or to get affection, establish a certain routine, with schedules dedicated to these moments. If you are calm about this need, you will not be irritated or feel guilty for having paused for other, previously unimaginable needs. 

The pandemic situation that we are experiencing is a major challenge to our psychological resilience. Let’s face these challenges and bear in mind that our mental health is just as important as our physical health.

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