Uncertainty about coronavirus is an increasing issue that can have serious consequences for your mental health.
Let’s be honest: the pandemic has hit Taiwan, and we are all feeling a little unsettled!
The word uncertainty has chiseled its way into every aspect of our daily lives. Not just the worry of being exposed to Coronavirus (COVID-19), but also every other aspect the pandemic touches upon, including concerns about work and finances, the availability of food and supplies, mental health, homeschooling, socializing, holidays, and your family in home countries.
We are required to change our behavior continually in order to meet government guidelines, and then to adjust it again and again as those requirements evolve.
Now, more than ever, it is crucial to remember to give yourself credit as you navigate through this tough time, and recognize that although it is a challenge, dealing with the situation can make you more resilient. To follow are some strategies to consider as you learn to live with uncertainty during the pandemic.
Make new routines to deal with uncertainty about coronavirus
So you’ve lost your usual routine of going to the office; no kids in school or nursery; no yoga classes, and you are advised to stay home and have little or no social contact.
It would be so easy to just let go of all the routines and spend day after day on the couch in your pj’s-after all, these are unprecedented times! However, while a little indulgence every now and then can be great as self-care, a total lack of routine can make you feel like you are losing control of your life. Making simple, flexible, new routines, like getting up and going to bed at a certain time, exercising for a set amount of time each day, and sticking to good eating habits and regular eating times will go a long way toward creating comfortable stability in your day to day life
We need to ground ourselves when life takes a turn, like in these pandemic times, and by making routines and sticking to them, you can help yourself stay in the driver’s seat of life when so much is beyond your control.
Examples of grounding routines
Wake up at the same time every day
Eat regular healthy meals
Go to bed at the same time
Do some exercise every day
Talk or write to a friend every day
Step away from that device!
Normally, we do not have the time or the desire to be online all the time. Things to do, people to see! Now, however, we suddenly have a vast amount of free time, and it can be very tempting to stay glued to your device in order to stay updated every single second or be absorbed in a game that helps while away the hours.
It is far too easy to become overwhelmed by the repeated refresh button, and endless scrolling can leave you in a constant state of alert hypervigilance. In the long run, this will negatively affect your mental health, so take regular breaks from your screen, phone, iPad, or computer
Do something without a screen that takes your mind off the uncertainties we are facing right now in Taiwan. It can be anything you enjoy or just something that needs to be done around the house. No need for it to be Instagrammable or Facebook-worthy — social media posts may or may not accurately reflect the complete truth anyway. Choose something that allows you to feel completely authentic, and as normal as possible for a while, or go for productive instead
Stay up to date with the facts, not the rumors
We did say to get off the screen, however, to be prepared, and to support yourself mentally, it is also necessary to stay up to date with the facts. That said, facts can be obscured or distorted by rumors or other agendas, therefore remember to get your information from reliable sources, and to fact check anything that seems unlikely or suspicious.
Some good online resources include:
- Taiwan Centers for Disease Control
- CDC Butler on Line (CDC service on Line with daily information (in Chinese) from the press conferences. It also has the QR code scanner that makes checking in at stores easier.)
Taiwan Centers for Disease Control have a press conference in Chinese every day at 2:00 pm. If you do not speak Chinese, the website is updated to include English later on in the day. Alternatively, choose one of the local international news media outlets to help you stay updated. If you feel anxious or overly concerned, it can help to limit yourself to one media source for information, and restrict your media intake to a few times a day at certain times of the day, so you don’t become overwhelmed. You’ll also do yourself a favor by not reading the comments section in online articles — these are a source of opinion, not of fact.
Don’t go through this alone
At the time of writing, government regulations throughout the country require that we practice physical distancing, and limit the number of people who can gather inside to 5, and outside to 10. But what helps many of us when we feel concerned, is to seek social support and to talk to someone about it. Not that the other person necessarily has the answers, but just sharing our thoughts with someone else often helps, and makes our thoughts less scary. Here is a time where electronic devices can be a good thing. When you can’t get together in person, you can still share what is stressing you out with your friends or family through digital devices.
Even though it may be an unfamiliar way for you and your friends to get together, there are heaps of solutions available, it just takes a little time to agree on the service method and organize a time for your chat or call. WhatsApp, Line, Skype, Zoom, Messenger, Google Hangouts, and many more can help you virtually maintain face to face contact
Revitalize an old hobby
Maybe it sounds too simple but set aside 30 minutes every day to pick up an old, or new, hobby or pastime. Since you probably do not need to spend time commuting at the moment, you could choose to use that time on a hobby. It could be something as simple as a project around the house, or an activity you enjoy, or something more creative.
- Read a feelgood book
- Make a playlist with happy summer music
- Try out a new recipe
- Do sports
- Practice mindfulness or meditation
- Start doing embroidery
- Start painting
- Declutter your closet and home
Bake a cake and bring it to a friend’s doorstep, take time to talk to your stressed colleague, or send flowers to your best friend. It may sound like strange timing to be asked to do small gestures or support others when you feel anxious yourself, but helping others often makes you feel better.
Moreover, it provides you with a sense of control of your own life and time. There’s so much during this pandemic that you cannot control – there is no magic wand that whisks away COVID-19 – but taking action to improve things for the people surrounding you, being family, friends, or colleagues will help others and remind you that you can make a difference in meaningful ways.
If you’re in a position to help financially, make a donation to a cause you care about. Read more about how to donate to the Community Services Center.
If you feel overwhelmed, reach out for additional support
Sometimes life strategies are just not enough. Even if you have tried all kinds of preventive measures and coping strategies, things can still become too much. If you feel sad, anxious, or hopeless most of the time, if you feel unable to do anything or interact with anyone, if you develop an unhealthy relationship with food, alcohol, or drugs, or if you simply need someone to listen, there are services available, even, and especially in a pandemic, to help you.
If you are interested in exploring the counseling services available at the Community Services Center, give us a call at (02) 2836-8134 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also consider seeing your GP or psychiatrist for help. During mandated social distancing or required self-isolation, certain services may be available online and through video chat.
For crises, the Community Services Center crisis line is available after office hours between 5.00 pm. and 9.00 am., and can be reached at 0932-594-578.
Be patient and stay safe!
Clinician review by: Michael Mullahy