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Proceeding with the previous topic,  this article elaborates some more on what we can do to protect our mental health during this challenging time.

Q: How do you create experiences when you’re locked in?

A: You can use this time to form new habits for yourself or for/with your own family like new game night; new movie night; new dinner night, etc. This is a new situation to everyone so we can be as creative as possible. 

On a personal note; I have always loved baking so I spent almost every weekend baking something tasty. One of my ‘projects’  was to make the perfect chocolate chip cookies. Then I have found a recipe and tried to make it for about 4-5 weeks and now I have the perfect cookies to present! Yummie. The problem with it is they are actually pretty easy to make and too delicious so they are kind of dangerous!

Q:  How can frontline workers (like nurses for instance) take care of their mental health?

A: Pay attention to their anxiety level. When in the middle of a busy period, it’s extra important to be mindful about one’s current emotions. Their sympathetic nervous system (which prepares the body for dangerous situations, a.k.a. the fight or flight response) is very active and it can be kicked off just by stopping for a moment, taking three deep breaths and then proceeding again.

However, it is essential to frontline workers to realize; what they’re doing is pretty amazing and brave! Acknowledge it. And have some self-compassion. Noone can perform above average after a longer period of time. However, if you have to, still, be mindful about it. 

In this case METTA meditations can also help (loving kindness meditation). It teaches compassion to help others without getting involved emotionally. This can help them prevent burnout as well. 

Q: How can you help your children in this situation and when they’re missing their friends?

A: We, human beings, are creatures of habits. Even more true for children, so make sure they have a routine! A schedule, that they can also stick to when not having the daily routine of waking up; eating breakfast, going to school, coming from school, going to practice, having dinner, taking a showever and going to bed. 

Engage them in social connections digitally. There are so many games kids can play with each other on the computer – even when separated physically. This will help them staying in thouch with their peers.

Do expose them to good things that are still happening so they still can enjoy the little things.

Q: How can you reduce sleep problems during a crisis?

A: Try to create a ritual before going to bed, to prepare the mind for sleeping. This also helps to promote being in control, while everything else is out of control. 

Regulate how much anxiety promoting material you are looking at before going to bed. Make an agreement with yourself for instance that you leave your phone in another room when going to bed. Or read a nice book or a novel. 

Q: How do you deal with not being able to help your loved ones who are far away?

A: Try to find someone nearby that you can help. Research shows that this rests the sympathetic nervous system in a similar way as if you had helped loved ones nearby. 

For instance; do you have an older neighbour or co-worker who cannot go to the grocery store? Make sure to bring some groceries for them!

Q: How can you do some random acts of kindness?

A: Get engaged in informal social interactions. If you live in a neighbourhood with older citizens, have a (distanced) chat with them so they feel less lonely. 

Spontaneously but consciously involve others in your actions. Such as, when you’re preparing to do some yoga, ask a fellow single friend whether they want to do it with you (digitally). 

This way you can also create a habbit to stick to when there’s not much to do and be in contact with your friends.

My overall conclusion from the Q&A is: have some self-compassion. Acknowledge that the situation we are all in, is not ‘normal’  and at some point in the future it will get back to normal. Nothing lasts forever, so neither will this pandemic. Until then, be kind to yourself. 

Credits: Prof. Laura Santos, professor of Yale Univerisity. Thank you for this above information!

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