The luxuries of telecommuting may not be apparent right now. Everyone is home, and pretty much the entire world is on a COVID-19 prevention lockdown. We’ve spoken about the challenges you could face and how to tackle them. We’ve also looked at how to balance your work and family needs at this time. But there is one key aspect that we wanted to shine some extra light upon, and that is our mental health.

Many of us could be going through a range of emotional responses now, with fear and anxiety topping the charts. The risk of experiencing high stress is real for all of us. Here are a few practices you can adopt, to take care of your mental/ emotional health:

  1. Set boundaries with the updates to curb anxiety. An evolutionary way in which we deal with danger or threat, is by being hyper-tuned into it. Many of us might be consuming endless information about COVID-19 – cases, cure, resources – and doing so 24×7. It also seems to be the only topic of conversation. Take a break and disengage from the anxiety or fear. Intake of so much data isn’t going to help you tackle the pandemic. Taking care of yourself will. So set some boundaries, like watching the news only twice a day for 15-mins each. Or not reading all the articles your friends send you. You already know what you need to know. Do something else that makes you feel good.

Another reason to stop looking for updates round the clock – it prevents the fear or anxiety from spreading. If you can manage to stay calm, others around you will too. And if you panic, others will follow. This is called ‘social contagion’.

  1. Control what you can, leave the rest. The pace and magnitude of events create a feeling of things being out of control. But there are some things you can do for your well-being. For example, making sure you take the right steps to avoid infection, like social distancing and washing your hands. Or connecting with a friend over a video call daily to reduce loneliness. Even taking breaks where you stand in your balcony or at a window to get some sun/ fresh air, can go a long way to cheer you up.

So, make two lists – one for what you can control in this situation, and one for what you cannot. Get real and detailed. Look at the first list of what is in your influence. What can you impact and change? Do that. Whatever it be – helping someone with supplies, pursuing a hobby, checking in on people who live alone, donating money, etc. This will give you purpose and calm down the panic you’re feeling. For what is out of your control, accept it. Let it be.

Feeling stressed and afraid right now is inevitable. But we can manage it or curb it before it derails us. Do your bit. And on good days, find something to be grateful for.

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