How to take care of mental health in the time of COVID-19

What comes first to your mind when you hear “covid-19”? To us it is “fear”. Whenever we turn on the TV or open a web browser, we are made to feel that if we are not afraid of coronavirus we do not respect human life.

How to take care of mental health in the time of COVID-19

What comes first to your mind when you hear “covid-19”? To us it is “fear”. Whenever we turn on the TV or open a web browser, we are made to feel that if we are not afraid of coronavirus we do not respect human life.

How do you find your bearings in a world where the rules that gave us a sense of security have stopped working?

Some of us realised that in addition to emotions, we should also engage critical thinking. However the hard data on which our society has built the truth over the last decade are being interpreted differently by everyone.

And so we were left with just opinions. We can think something, think of something, be convinced of something, and yet everything can be completely different.

So how do you find your bearings in a world where the rules that gave us a sense of security, the ability to anticipate and, most importantly, the ability to influence our world, have practically ceased to work overnight?

We would like to share with you what each of us can do for ourselves in this time of uncertainty. This advice comes from professional psychotherapists.

According to the data the pandemic affects the mental health of Czechs

We have been hit hard by published statistics which report a rapid deterioration in the mental health of our population. For example, according to a study by the National Institute of Mental Health, the number of people experiencing depression has tripled since 2017. We sympathize with every single person who is part of this statistic, and with all those who are experiencing any suffering at this time, whether it is the loss of a loved one, the loss of security or the loss of joy in life. That’s why we also started Hedepy, which aims to simplify the way to get therapeutic support and help people feel better mentally better.

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Become an observer

If we were to name a single recommendation that has the potential to help anyone who feels overwhelmed by all the information being broadcast – or by their own thoughts – it would be just that. Become an observer – imagine watching a drama that draws you into the story. You feel tension, you are holding your breath, and at the best moment a simple melody is heard – the advertising is on. And you realize that you are sitting at home and none of this applies to you, the emotions fade and you are able to breathe again.

In this example, we’re showing you three things:

First, emotions are highly contagious. Even if they flow to us only through the screen, we tend to experience them as dramatically as if they were related to ourselves. Suddenly, we are touched by countless destinies and the weight of prognosis is heavy on our shoulders. And our ability to influence the outcome? It is almost approaching zero. Be the spectator again at this moment. Consciously decide to leave the drama. We all have this opportunity.

Second, it is a clear example of a situation that each of us has likely experienced in life – that we are watching a film that completely engulfs us. And then the feeling we experience when we wake up from its story and it is just us again. You already have this experience – use it for yourself whenever you feel that it is simply too much.

Third, it is the realisation that if one is solving the problems of the whole world, whether his or her intentions are well meant, helpful or philanthropic, one is often actually just trying to escape his or her own problems.

An individual cannot save the world.

One can only help by saving himself.

 

So let’s move on – to our inner worlds.

Tame your mind, your thoughts do not equal you.

No thought, not even any emotion, is in a true sense “Us” – we are so much more. We can use the term consciousness, for example. Consciousness is a state into which various thoughts often inadvertently flow – sometimes interesting, sometimes bizarre, some posing as a warning of a real threat. Do you know those compulsive and fierce thoughts that creep into your mind again and again? They are usually the ones that are linked to an emotion – and the emotion that has the most power over us is fear. It’s all the scenarios that start – what if…, What if I get sick? What if I lose my job? What if I’m left alone?

The question is, what good do they bring to our lives? And how do we solve them?

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If you find that these thoughts don’t do you any good, you can work on letting them go. One option is to become an observer again; this time an observer of your own mind and your own thoughts. At the moment, no matter why and where they come from, you don’t have to evaluate them in any way, they won’t endanger you. It takes practice because thoughts like to come back, but the good news is that usually their urgency weakens over time.

 

Pay attention to what you are paying attention to.

We mean at this very moment. Attention is like a window – its view determines the atmosphere of the whole room. What we focus our attention on affects how we perceive the world around us and how we then feel about ourselves. And best of all, if we are aware of this ability, we can start playing with it.

Do you remember last spring? When  medical supplies were desperately lacking in the whole country? A huge number of people began selflessly sewing masks, some sold them, others donated – people made disinfectants, universities contributed innovations, and others devoted themselves to home teaching and baking bread. Some people criticized the government or boycotted the measures. Each of us automatically turned our attention to the direction closest to us.

Our heart’s desire is for everyone to be able to consciously turn their attention in another direction whenever they are not feeling well in the original one. We desire that those who fearlessly help in the crisis find time for themselves. Those who are angry at the limitations, see not only what has failed, but also what we as humans are capable of.

It is important to mention one more thing. Consciously working with attention does not mean avoiding bad thoughts or demanding emotions. On the contrary, they are meant to be understood and experienced. Maybe you can’t handle them right now or you feel like you’re spinning in a circle. Then it’s vital not to face them alone, a psychotherapist can help you. Psychotherapy is now available for everyone, even during time of emergency measures – whether it’s support for free services in cases of acute crisis or online platforms such as Hedepy.

Don’t face it alone

Finally, we would like to tell you the last and most important thing. It is completely natural to experience a wave of emotions in a difficult situation. Every crisis has its beginning, but it also has its end. Yours too. Therefore, if you are at least considering it even a tiny bit, ask for the help of a psychologist, psychiatrist, psychotherapist, or coach. Don’t face it alone; you can find help – At Hedepy.cz, there are more than 30 therapists. You can choose someone who is best suited to your needs, and make an appointment for the next day. You can then connect with the therapist online, from the comfort of your own home.

 

Žaneta Krčilová, Co-founder of Hedepy

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