Stay positive

The National Mental Health Response Team with the Ministry of Health responds to questions on stress management and shares tips on staying positive during the pandemic

10 November 2020

Disclaimer: The answers are for simple everyday concerns, not chronic conditions that require much effort.

With COVID-19, the online classes were quite challenging with constant assignments and group works. It was very new to me and I was worried at first. Now I am quite adjusted to the new system but at times I still feel stressed about how my performance would be. How can I help myself feel less stressed and focused?

Female, 21, First Year College Student

Most first year college students experience something called performance anxiety whether the class is taken online or in person and this experience is absolutely normal. “Performance anxiety is unwanted performance pressures that are generated when new students frame what they don’t know or can’t do yet as a “deficit” or as evidence of their inadequacy rather than more realistically regarding it as just their own inexperience”

Here are some tips to distress and stay focused:

  • Focus more on what you are learning rather than on how you are performing.
  • Eat on time and stay hydrated. You need energy to stay focused.
  • Time management and efficiency: Remember everyone has 24 hours a day. Reflect! Are you busy or are you productive? Do first things first such as your assignments that is most urgent and important.
  • Avoid distractions such as social media /video games, visiting roommates/ social gatherings, which can be attended after the group work or assignments. Social media can wait but not your assignment deadlines.
  • Take a break: Your mind and body cannot study 24hrs. Six to eight hours of sleep is a must.
  • Exercise: Physical exercise not only makes you physically fit but also improves sleep, concentration and mood.

I miss going to school and hanging out with my friends. I try engaging myself at home with new learning habits but I end up getting bored and sad. Why am I feeling this way? Is this a mental health issue?

Female, 18, Class 9

We have never experienced a year without going to school (a physical building structure) and solely relying on online learning without physical presence of teacher and school friends. Humans are all social creatures; we are socially wired and schools are usually the place where students experience feeling of belongingness and connectedness. When students are deprived of it, there is a possibility that they may feel bored and sad, hence the feelings that you are feeling is unquestionably typical and common among school goers. Getting bored or sad is neither a mental health issue nor a problem.

Students of Mongar HSS outside their classroom. (File photo)

As expected, the country went into a lockdown but under the leadership of His Majesty, everything was possible. I was mentally prepared for that but I still fear for its unknown waves and repercussions. How can I feel better and not stress about the unknown? 24, Male, Unemployed.

Everything around us is changing at a rapid rate and it's hard to expect the new things and the new normal. How can we prepare ourselves to be emotionally prepared and strong? Female, 24, Unemployed.

My plan to work overseas got canceled. With unpredictable situations, I’m doing duty as a desuup and engaging in youth programs. How can I make myself mentally strong and engaged? Male, 22, Unemployed.

Yes, COVID 19 has changed a lot of people life in every possible way. While we are facing hardship and fear of unknown, it’s important to focus on positivity, growth and resiliency.

  1. Make gratitude a daily habit. The benefits of gratitude can reach mental wellbeing instead of mental illness. What are you grateful for? Food on table, family/friends, free COVID 19 test, quarantine facilities etc.
  2. Think about it as a Challenge rather than a paralyzing event. We cannot control the situation but we can control how we react to it.
  3. Put your efforts on what you can control rather than what you cannot such as washing hands, giving correct information while travelling, complying to national rules.

I lost my job because of COVID-19. At first, I was really sad, confused, and worried. I felt lost but recent engagements (Dessup) helped me to stay positive but at times, I worry more about my future? How can I make myself stronger, both physically and mentally? Female, 23, unemployed.

I had to leave my job in. I got depressed and faced financial crises. I am just keeping up the faith that everything is going to be alright, seeking emotional support from family and friends and keeping busy by doing household works. What other ways would help me feel better and calm? Male, 22, Unemployed.

Many job opportunities were limited with the virus and many opportunities were lost. Being unemployed in such situation is very stressful and challenging. How can I help myself to have a calm and positive mind and be mentally strong? Female, 24, Unemployed.

I am a tailor in one of the shops at Paro and it's been difficult to manage the cost of living. I would like to know how we can cope with a situation like this and with stress, anxiety and depressions. Male, 24, An employee.

I work in a cafe in Thimphu and my salary isn't good enough. I have been working here for almost nine years as it is now difficult to get a job for those who just completed class 10. The pandemic has hiked up vegetable prices and it is difficult for me to buy rations weekly. It is difficult for a lone person to pay rent and manage living at this time. What would be some mental health tips to help me relax so that I can concentrate on my work. What should I do so that I don’t stress myself more? Female, 23, An employee.

Unemployment can be the most humbling experience. Job hunting is always hard and frustrating. Being unemployed can be challenging for many reasons and the main reason being lack of income. Unemployment has not only become an individual’s concern but a national as well as global concern, more so during the pandemic.

The following tips will not help you get employment or a job but will help you cope during times of unemployment until you get employed or help you de-stress during stressful times.

  1. Reminder: Remember that your self-worth does not depend on what you do (your job), your identity is NOT exclusively equivalent to having a job or not.
  2. Keep a journal: Write in a diary and dig deeper into yourself. Now that you have got time, know what thoughts are going on, what you are feeling, what your dreams are for the future and get to know who you truly are.
  3. Reconnect and socialize with your friends and family you haven’t met in a while. When you talk to somebody it helps you realize you are part of something greater than your stress of being unemployed.
  4. Read: Keep yourself intellectually stimulated in different areas. That way you are giving your mind a chance to think about different things, allowing yourself to be creative and imaginative rather than disturbing yourself with negative thoughts of employment.
  5. Exercise: It is a natural way of taking antidepressants. When you exercise, your body produces good feel hormones/ neurotransmitters, which automatically help you feel good.

 Photos used in the article are file photos and used only for illustration purposes.

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