Seven ways to take care of your mental health during the circuit breaker
Asher Low from Limitless shares simple tips that can benefit your mental health during COVID-19.
It’s been over a month since we started staying home for the circuit breaker and these challenging times have led to more youths seeking help regarding mental health issues.
This is a trend noticed by Asher Low of Limitless, a non-profit organisation set up in 2016 to help youths suffering from mental health issues.
Since the second week of the circuit breaker, the 33-year-old has noticed an increase in calls to their helpline. Even more calls came in when the extension of the circuit breaker was announced.
With another two weeks till the end of the circuit breaker, Asher Low shared with Youth.SG, in his own words, some steps youths can take to safeguard their mental health while at home.
1. Maintain normalcy as much as possible
If you can, keep your day as close to what it was before the circuit breaker. If you are used to waking up and going to bed at a certain time, try to keep to it.
Maintain your after school/work schedule if you can as well. If you are used to exercising, journaling or watching television at a certain time of the day, keep to it as best you can.
This can allow us to feel like life is going on as per normal, which is good for our mental health.
2. Create a routine to follow
Understandably, it’s not possible to maintain normalcy all the time as the circuit breaker has changed many aspects of our lives. Travel times are shorter, and we spend more time indoors with the people we live with.
Routines help in such circumstances. A routine isn’t a timetable, but a set of things done in an order that eventually becomes a habit. Routines are comforting as they give us a sense of control in an uncontrollable situation.
For example, after being done with school or work, you can choose to watch two episodes of your favourite show on Netflix, then exercise, have dinner, call a friend, and watch some YouTube videos before bed.
Maintaining this cycle daily will create a routine that gives you a sense of control over your days.
3. Own your personal workspace
Create a space where you can work, aside from your bed, where no one else can intrude. Keep this space separate from spaces that provide you comfort, like your bed.
Having that sense of control over your own space helps create a sense that you are owning the work that you are doing, even in an uncertain time.
4. Keep in contact with others
Humans are social creatures, and it is important even in a time of safe distancing that we do not literally isolate ourselves from everyone around us.
If possible, use this time to deepen bonds with family members, and keep up regular contact with your friends and loved ones.
We can have random video chats with friends, exercise together over a call, watch a show with someone else on screen (like through Netflix Party) or play games online together.
Even if it is not through a video chat, keeping in touch through text also helps – as it reminds you that you are not alone in this situation.
5. Keep up healthy habits
Think about all the healthy things that you used to do to cope with the day-to-day stressors of life: exercise, journaling, painting, music, cooking, meditating, or keeping up your spiritual life and faith.
Don’t stop these habits just because you are at home now. Even if it’s an activity that requires equipment or going outdoors, find ways to adapt that hobby for home.
Do things that are relevant to that hobby, such as home workouts instead of going to a gym, or honing your solo music skills instead of practising with your band.
6. Pick up new hobbies or skills
The circuit breaker gives us a lot of time to try and pick up new skills and hobbies. These include things we have always wanted to do but never had the time for, or something we did not have the motivation to do.
You could learn a new language or pick up an interesting skill, such as knitting or juggling.
There are many resources and tutorials out there on the internet to help you get started.
7. Practise gratefulness
It can be difficult to be grateful, especially in these times. Nonetheless, practising gratefulness will help keep us grounded.
Stop and think – what are three things that you are grateful for right now? How about three things that you are grateful for that happened today?
When you are appreciating the little things in life, difficult times become way easier to handle.
This period is only temporary
If you’re feeling trapped right now, or you’re uncertain about the future, know that this is only temporary and that IT WILL PASS.
The day will come where safe distancing will end, the economy will bounce back, and you will get to see daylight without having to look out of your window. In the meanwhile, stay strong, and stay resilient.
If you are facing mental health issues during this time, the simplest resource to turn to for help would be your friends and family. Keep in contact, have heart-to-heart talks if needed, and spend time with one another.
If you need more help, there are plenty of resources available:
– Limitless: www.limitless.sg/talk
– Community Health Assessment Team (CHAT): www.chat.mentalhealth.sg
– TOUCHline (Counselling): 1800 377 2252 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm)
– The National CARE Hotline: 6202 6868 (24 Hours)
– Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH): 1800 283 7019 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm)
In a crisis, contact Samaritans Of Singapore (SOS) at 1800 221 4444 (24 Hours)
If you’re looking for more mental well-being resources and things to do this circuit breaker, do visit mehgowhere.sg.
This is part two of a two-part series exploring mental health issues among youth during the circuit breaker. Also in this series: How the circuit breaker may be worsening mental health issues in youths