Do we have the vaccine to boost our mental strength that can be weakening with MCO and various versions of COs .
Two MCOs; then there is also CMCO, RMCO and the harsher EMCO. Been there, done that. But how did we fare and come out of it?
Some quick to answer would say – Confused (given the gripe over the unclear SOP and shifting goalposts). But, in all seriousness, did the various versions of lockdown protect our health – not just from Covid-19 infection but our mental well-being?
Remember MCO 1.0 when it came about on March 18 last year? While the fear of the unseen, unknown lurking virus loomed, there was at the same time some air of excitement over something new -- the never-experienced mandatory stay-home order.
That quickly spawned a knee-jerk pre-occupation with how to fill the time of being locked-in at home. From social media posts, it could be seen that many got on to Dalgona coffee making or taking to the kitchen and recording whipping up mouth-watering-looking dishes or baking sourdough bread and what have you or Zoom-everything, from personal training to meetings, talks and social session via Zoom.
But as the lockdown and movement restrictions dragged on, those novelty time-fillers were replaced with worries and anxieties as reality of thinning wallets and holes in pockets hit.
Pay cuts and uncertainties of holding on to employment coupled with prolonged social distancing took a toll on many. People were not only just grappling with staying safe from Covid-19 but were becoming increasingly stressed, affecting their mental well being.
Observing, as I researched to pen something on the pandemic fallout, two casual factors stand out:
Social animals that we are find it difficult to cope with the dictated distancing to stay safe over a prolonged period of time. Used to herding together at work and in social setting and locked out of face-to-face interactions, the laughter and fun, the loneliness that creeped in understandably can be overbearing.
As reality hit home over the prolonged various versions of COs, uncertainties like
is there an end in sight
will we survive
will my job be there
will we be able to put food on the table for the family
what will happen to our children’s continued education
add up to introduce all forms on insecurity and mount untold pressures that start to form cracks that threaten mental wellness.
While I’m no expert nor trained to counsel on mental well-being, the interest prompted me to scour the world wide web (www) of information, sieve it and put together what I reckon would be essential tips that will help us to clear the hurdles of the new norm by ourselves for a start.
Explore purpose and meaning of life
It is the ‘chance’ with time on our side to reflect and find the meaning of life. What we want for our life. What we want to achieve. How to achieve it. And importantly, how to accomplish all this happily.
Loneliness is, but, a state of mind. If we dwell on such positives, loneliness has no place in the mind as afterall, the mind’s RAM (random access memory) allows space for just ONE thing at a time.
Develop personal growth
Start to learn something new to challenge oneself. Just like what we did during MCO 1.0, preoccupy ourselves with doing or learning new things like a new language for example. The www makes it easy for online DIY
This is the great time to be one own Master. The satisfaction of accomplishment and achievement is priceless! We have the achievement and we are happy with it. That’s the basics – continuous growth ourselves -- to keep our mental health.
Invest in positive relationships
Online or virtual meeting with friends or loved ones may not be same as face-to-face interactions but if this is to be new norm of socialising, it is good to learn to accept it and keep the relationships building up from that.
We may have been shaped in this era to communicate via texting. This may be a good time to get back to the Alexander Graham Bell-induced way of communicating – old fashioned way of speaking on the phone! That too may be another instance of developing personal growth of acquiring of lost skill of speaking on the phone (which many of my generation fight shy of)
An article ‘Six evidenced-based ways to look after your mental health during a second lockdown’ suggested being active in volunteering as one positive relationship development. The feel-good feeling of being a helping hand to the disadvantaged and vulnerable may be happy hormones to lift oneself out of the doldrums.
Now that we are out of MCO but still in the sequential Cos, we may still be trying to cope with juggling too many things that the new norm impose upon us. This may not be easy for everyone. Importantly, we need to understand ourselves well, to keep our mental health well all the time.
We will not know when we will get back to our normal life or will it going to be THAT normal pre-pandemic. Uncertainties of how our future will still play on our minds. No matter what, we need to stay strong and be grateful at least we are come this far since March last year.
Stay Safe. Stay Well.
1. Impacts of lockdown on the mental health of children and young people https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/impacts-lockdown-mental-health-children-and-young-people (Mental Health Foundation)
2. Six evidenced-based ways to look after your mental health during a second lockdown https://theconversation.com/six-evidenced-based-ways-to-look-after-your-mental-health-during-a-second-lockdown-149256 (Misha Ketchell)