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A 3-step plan to stay mentally healthy

The moment when the announcement was made that schools will close and that we will get into the lockdown, I remember exactly where I was and what I did after that. It’s like these memories that people share about where they were when 9/11 happened.

It just gets to be a moment suspended in time.

 

The first days you keep on joking about it and take it as it is not a big thing. So what? You just have to sit around, do all work remotely and catch up on your favorite show.
Well, if you have a family you skip the favorite show and use the time to search the web for all possible ideas on how you can keep your kids busy.
As the days turn to weeks and the end is not in sight, you start to lose your confidence.

 

Change your thoughts and you change your world. – Norman Vincent Peale

 

You are the only one that can initiate the change. It is like trying to push a fly-wheel that was not oiled for a very long time. It will be very difficult at the beginning, and you know it will get easier the longer you do it.

 

To keep our mental health during the current uncertain and volatile environment is the main challenge that unites all of us. World Economic Forum writes that “currently, an estimated 2.6 billion people – one-third of the world’s population – is living under some kind of lockdown or quarantine. This is arguably the largest psychological experiment ever conducted.”
I do agree, we are all faced with a situation that we are not prepared to handle. At a global level is actually like a storm mixing loneliness, home office, taking care of family and kids, securing the next days, worrying for family and friends, digitalization, etc,

 

Put it on pause!

 

Consider the following 3 solution-focused questions, they will give you a simple and efficient tool for every day:

 

  1. What is the small success of today?

Set up a daily objective. It can be something like clean up a corner in the closet, do something with your hands, finally sort out that pile of papers that you keep on pushing on your desk, try the recipe that you took a photo of thinking you would love to do it once, read a chapter from that book you always wanted to read, etc.
It can be anything as long as it is doable in a day, measurable, clearly defined and it requires action. It should be something that will make you feel like you are looking forward to it, to the change it will bring and get you a tiny step further.
To increase your commitment to take action, imagine what will be better once you achieve it, what will you notice, what others will notice about you or about your mood.

 

  1. What resources do you have available?

Set up a routine to keep you grounded and in control, a framework that will allow you to put it on repeat every day “with your eyes closed”. Start with simple things like having an alarm clock, showering, make your bed, breakfast, set a goal for the day, get changed for the day (Yes, maybe no one will notice during the next zoom call, but you will notice that your mood changed)…
The framework will provide a tangible structure for your day and give you a sense of control. Plus, you can regain the joy of planning something in your day as you have to plan when will you take the action that leads to accomplishing the goal set for the day.

 

  1. Celebrate!

Give yourself credit for your achievements. They might look small but you are running a marathon here and not a sprint.
Use a couple of minutes to talk about it over dinner with the family and kids, or call a friend and talk about it, write it down, or just simply speak out loud about it.
It will reinforce your commitment to starting all over again the next day.

 

If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking. —Joseph Goldstein

 

Each day a small step, one in front of the other.

 

 

PS: Please keep in mind that once you start experiencing dissociative symptoms, psychosis, substance abuse or suicidal thoughts, or if you have been personally affected by the coronavirus, you need to reach out immediately to professional support. Call your general practitioner and get help. Thank you!

 

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