With the many changes going on as a result of the COVID-19 situation, many are starting to experience pandemic fatigue. Here are some common factors contributing to the high levels of burnout, depression and anxiety in recent times:
Financial and/or job insecurity
Heavy workloads that arise from manpower cuts
Work-family conflicts and poorer work-life balance arising from work-from-home arrangements
Loneliness and social isolation arising from travel and group-size restrictions
As such, taking care of our mental health is of utmost importance to ensure that we continue to be able to contribute meaningfully in the long run.
Here are some practical things we can do to guard our mental health:
Make time for reflection and emotional care.
Every now and then, take some time out of your schedule to sit in silence. Close your eyes, focus on your breathing, and be aware of the things that come to mind. This practice of slowing down and reflecting allows us the space to respond tactfully and wisely rather than reacting impulsively. Reflection exercises also keep us growing through our experiences, successes, and failures.
Let yourself sit with your thoughts for a while — what are the key emotions you are experiencing in this moment? How are you feeling about yourself? What triggered these emotions?
Be as honest with yourself as you can, and give yourself the space to feel all that you are feeling. Remember that emotions are just our immediate reactions to the things that are happening to us and around us, and there is nothing wrong with acknowledging how we feel about things. Perhaps we feel angry, hurt, insecure, or disrespected. It is important to acknowledge and be aware of what we are feeling — this is the first step to moving forward.
After you’ve had some time to acknowledge your emotions and release them by crying it out, or journaling down your true thoughts, we can direct our thoughts towards moving forward.
Some things we can reflect on are such as:
1. What are you most inclined to doing with regards to the situation? What are some alternative ways of responding? What would be the consequences of each response?
2. Regarding the goals you have set for the year or season, are you progressing towards them? What are some challenges you are facing? Do some goals need to be tweaked so that they are more realistic and achievable?
Regarding the relationships with people around you — who are your closest friends whom you can draw support from in this season? Is there someone whom you noticed might not be doing well? How would you want to reach out to him/her?
Draw clear boundaries, stick to them, and them.
Drawing boundaries allows us to ensure that we conserve our limited reservoir of time and energy resources. It involves us remembering that we cannot be all things to all people, and we need to prioritize well in order to direct our resources to meaningful places.
Boundaries need to be drawn in two main areas – working hours and relational commitments. With the work-from-home arrangements, the boundaries of work and rest seem to be blurred, as they both occur in the same confines of our homes.
Drawing work boundaries can look like:
1. Ensuring that job distributions and expectations are clearly set, so that each member of the team is responsible for parts of the projects that they are most skilled in
2. Not allowing others push their responsibilities to you
Not replying (or responding only to urgent requests) after office hours
Segregating work and rest spaces especially when working from home, in order facilitate proper rest during rest times, and productive work during working hours
Drawing relational boundaries can look like:
1. Being careful in the level of help you offer to others
2. Saying no to gatherings or meet-ups when you feel physically or mentally tired
3. Communicating your need for time, space, and support to others
4. Having a stress-relief routine (such as journalling, jogging etc) to cut off the negative spillover emotions that might arise from conversations with others or when we empathize with their situations
5. Referring friends or family members to skilled professionals when you suspect mental health disorders
6. Roping in others to journey with those who might need more attention
Beyond drawing boundaries, we need to enforce them and communicate them gently to those around us. This takes self-control and practice, however it can have far-reaching benefits if we learn to prioritize our personal self-care. We will find that we have more energy and capacity left for the things and people that matter to us.
Invest in friendships and relationships.
Relationships are a very strong protective factor against the onset of mental health disorders — friends are more powerful than we think. We guard our mental health by making time to enjoy life with our friends, and allow ourselves to be cared for in our time of need. Identify a few friends whom you feel most comfortable with, and make time to spend with them. In your conversations, challenge yourself to share authentically — talk not just about the good and funny things, but also the less perfect things. You will find that the acceptance and perspectives from a trusted friend makes all the difference.
Find yourself struggling with your mental health?
Yet another way you can care for yourself is to book a counselling session with us. At times, deeply ingrained thought and behaviour patterns can be difficult for us to walk out of on our own. Our trained counsellors are here to support you by providing you with a safe space to talk about what you are going through, and explore options with you to cope better with your life circumstances. Book a session with us at scc.sg/booking , or chat with us to enquire more at +65 63395411 (call/whatsapp). We are here for you!