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How to Maintain Mental Health During Pandemic

Nadhif Seto Sanubari

03 May 2020

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, including Indonesia, Smartcitizen may already be familiar with bad feelings and thoughts that come to mind. From worrying about health to loss of livelihood, it creates feelings of anxiety, fear and stress in some people. Smartcitizen, there's nothing wrong with negative thoughts appearing during this pandemic. Everyone's reaction to big changes is of course different. However, these feelings of anxiety and stress still need to be managed and handled, so as not to cause more severe and ongoing problems.

How to Maintain Your Mental Health During Pandemic?
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), stress during a pandemic can cause sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, difficulty concentrating, and even deteriorating health conditions. From these facts, it is clear that maintaining mental health during a pandemic is as important as maintaining physical health, because these two aspects are very dependent on one another. If you or someone you know is experiencing excessive anxiety or stress at this time, here are some strategies you can use:

Limit Use of Social Media and News
Keeping up with the latest developments is certainly important, but continuing to read bad news every day is very ineffective in calming negative thoughts. Both reliable news and a few bits of rumor can have a negative impact on mental health. You don't need to uninstall the news app on your smartphone, but don't read news about the pandemic for hours. Limit the use of technology, remembering that sometimes we need to get out of cyberspace and look for other activities that make us feel happy and comfortable.

Busy Yourself with Various Activities
In the midst of implementing the PSBB (Large-Scale Social Restrictions), there will be more time to try new hobbies or do things that you have never done before. Read books you've never read, paint, write, watch TV series that you haven't had the chance to watch so far, or try to learn a new language. The productive things you can do from home are almost limitless. Activities like this are usually effective in diverting your attention from negative thoughts that are popping up to something more positive. Better yet, if you can do these activities with other people in your house.

Stay Social
Being cooped up at home without leaving may be stressful for some. This loneliness has the potential to generate negative thoughts that we want to avoid. Think of this quarantine as an opportunity to strengthen ties with your family or people who live with you. Talk to them, plan fun activities to do together. If you feel that you have excessive anxiety and cannot be dealt with alone, share your problem with someone you trust. They may have a solution you want or be quite willing to listen to you. After sharing your problem with others, you will often feel more relieved. If you are alone at home, reach out to friends or relatives via chat, SMS, email, telephone, or video call. Contact your friends and family regularly, not only for personal peace, but also to check on their condition as well.

Keep Your Body Healthy
As explained above, physical health and mental health are closely related. If your mental health decreases, your immune system will follow, and vice versa. Even if you're at home 24 hours a day, stick to your sleep schedule. Sleep at least 7 hours a day is very important. In addition, diet also needs to be maintained. Avoid caffeine and smoking, which can make anxiety or stress worse. Exercising regularly can also be a positive distraction and help maintain your immune system.

What If I'm Still Stressed?
Sometimes anxiety can become so overwhelming that the methods above are not suitable for dealing with it. If you are under severe stress and feel that you are unable to cope with it, you may need to consult a psychiatrist, psychologist, psychotherapist, or other health professional. In this context, the Jakarta Health Office provides the Sahabat Jiwa service, where you can talk to a personal counselor who is ready to help and listen to all your complaints. Visit the Sahabat Jiwa website at then click the 'Bercerita' button to start.

However you take care of your mental health, always remember that you are not alone. There will always be people willing to help. People all over the world are fighting the same as you, and we must help each other through this difficult time.


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Nadhif Seto Sanubari

Penulis dan penerjemah alumni Universitas Bina Nusantara, dengan pengalaman internasional di University of Bradford, UK dan Deakin University, Australia.

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