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  • Writer's pictureDennis Toh

5 ways to look after your mental health

5 ways to look after your mental health while social distancing alone

Social distancing is a different experience for everyone. While some of us may be able to social distance together with our family and loved ones, there are some people who have to go through this difficult time alone. Spending a significant amount of time cooped up at home can take a toll on our mental health, especially when it’s done in solitary. Here are 5 ways to ensure that your mental health is well taken care of during this Circuit Breaker when the only company you have is me, myself, and I. 1. Maintain relationships with family and friends

Distance is inconvenient, but it won’t jeopardise the bond between us and those who truly matter.

If you find yourself craving human connection or just need someone to talk to, give someone a call or send them a text. You’ll never know how a simple “How are you?” can brighten up someone’s day, especially in today’s climate. Keeping in touch with those you love can lessen the feeling of being alone, and you can be assured that someone is there to provide emotional support whenever needed. You can also set up a “buddy group” (or in layman terms, a “group chat”) with family and friends for regular checking in. This way, you can lend your support to anyone in your circle who is struggling. Something as simple as sending daily updates and news can help everyone feel more connected as well. 2. Engage in a hobby or pick up a new skill to promote self-growth

Remember that new year resolution from 5 years ago that you never got to accomplish, or that foreign language you always wanted to pick up but never had the time to learn? With the Circuit Breaker in place, there really isn’t a proper excuse for you to skip doing the things you’ve always wanted to do. Of course, I’m not talking about bucket-lists like climbing mount Everest or visiting Niagara Falls; take this chance to pick up new skills and fulfil realistic new year resolutions, whether it’s staying fit or learning how to make Dalgona Coffee. Engaging in a hobby will take your mind off the stress and boredom of being alone, and you get to work on your own self-growth. You will also learn to be comfortable being on your own and start appreciating this “me-time” that you never had the luxury to do before. 3. Do simple exercises to keep your mind and body healthy

There is a famous Chinese proverb that says, “when the body is healthy, the mind is healthy too”, and there’s definitely some truth to that.

Physical exercise is an essential component of improving physical and mental health and exercising regularly has been shown to increase brain connectivity and growth. It goes to say that our brains and immune system are deeply linked to one another, so we should always prioritise the health of both mind and body.

One silver lining in this Circuit Breaker is that we are still allowed to leave our homes to exercise, though it should be done alone. Regardless, exercising outdoors is a great mood-elevator, and being surrounded by people – even if it’s those you don’t know – can be reassuring and make you feel connected to the rest of the world.

4. Surround yourself with positive things

When alone, it’s easy to fall into a spiral of negativity, and being bombarded constantly with news of Covid-19, the economic crash, or racist riots may trigger negative emotions in us. The media may seem like a cesspool of negativity nowadays, but we can choose to consume content that bring us positivity and joy. Watch some cooking videos, a TED Talk, or a funny show on Netflix. I recommend sit-coms and feel-good shows such as Kim’s Convenience and Brooklyn Nine-Nine!

Of course, I’m not asking you to turn off your TV every time there’s an update on Covid-19 – ignorance is not a good thing and you should stay updated with current events. Just make sure that you also actively search for media content (whether online or offline) that elevate your mood and can remind you that there are still good things in life to be appreciated.

5. If necessary, reach out to a professional for mental health support

If you’ve been feeling very down for extended periods of time and suspect that your mental health may be in need of professional support, don’t be reluctant to seek professional help. In Singapore, at least 2 charities have started offering online counselling services for free, such as Fei Yue Community Services and Silver Ribbon (Singapore).

There are also numerous psychologists who are providing their services pro bono or at reduced rates for those who are anxious and fearful about the Covid-19 pandemic, such as Andy Sim of Hanns Counselling. Most importantly, remember that you are not alone in this fight, and there are people who are willing to help

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