6 Ways To Stay Sane During MCO

Staying isolated can prove challenging for even the most introverted of us, but keeping your mental and emotional well-being in check is easier than you might think! Give these a try:

1. Know that your feelings are valid

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Amidst this unprecedented event, you may be facing a massive change in both your living and working situation.

Know that it is completely normal to feel anxious or worried and that whatever negative emotions you are experiencing, whether they are grief, anxiety or anger, are valid.

Keep an eye on how these feelings are manifesting. Are they showing up in the way you speak to others? Or have you been experiencing sleep troubles and body aches?

Once you have identified the signs, it’s time to set your self-care plans in motion! Contrary to what a lot of us believe, self-care or self-compassion goes beyond the cheeky “treat yourself” notion. Low Mi Yen, a clinical psychologist at the InPsych Psychological and Counselling Services urges you to ask yourself: “How would I care for a loved one?” And do exactly that!

This may include making sure you have enough sleep every night, preparing a healthy meal for yourself, or keeping up with your daily exercise. Small, mindful things like these can go a long way at keeping you mentally and emotionally healthy!

2. Too much news is sometimes bad news

With households hunkered down at home, desktop and mobile web traffic showed a mass migration to online services for news, MDA found. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

We are pretty lucky to be born in an era where information is so readily available to us. But surely there is some truth to the saying “ignorance is bliss”?

Mental health experts actually warn us against news overload. Philip George, who leads the International Medical University’s psychiatry department claims that individuals with existing stress and problems are at a higher risk of mental health issues as they are more likely to be affected by negative news.

Apart from receiving incomplete information, rumours, fake news, or social media influence can also cause anxiety and panic symptoms, according to the Health Ministry’s Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services (MHPSS).

So here’s a tip the next time you’re skimming COVID-19 updates: Remember to stay alert, not anxious. Calmly vet the news you receive and make sure they come from a trusted news source.

Dr. Anasuya of the Malaysian Counselling Association (PERKAMA) also advises that on top of getting your information from reliable sources, you should also choose to limit your news consumption as well as the number of times you check for them.

When you catch your favourite Pak Cik (you know the one) forwarding a questionable COVID-19 update to the family group chat, direct them to these reputable resources instead:

  1. MOH/KKM Twitter
  2. MOH/KKM Official Portal for COVID-19 Updates
  3. The WHO dedicated COVID-19 Resource

3. Share your experiences 

People Wearing DIY Masks

With the pandemic affecting people of all walks of life, it is comforting to know that at the very least, you are not in this alone.

Never underestimate the power of  a shared experience.

Knowing that others in the same boat as you are able to understand your struggles can be very comforting and strengthens the sense of community we are so used to. Public forums such as r/Malaysia on Reddit has an ongoing Daily Discussion on COVID-19, where interesting conversations happen as the Rakyat come together to share their “joys, frustrations, random thoughts and questions” on how they are coping with the Movement Control Order. 

If playful anonymous banter isn’t enough, consider taking on the #DudukRumahChallenge on social media like Twitter, Instagram and even TikTok! A tag started by regular Malaysians and was then amplified by local organisations as a way to promote staying home, has turned into a platform for Malaysians to showcase their talents and humour whilst abiding the MCO. Across social media, people are sharing their quarantine activities under the hashtag with posts that are often creative, hilarious and always relatable.

4. Create a routine and stick to it

Man In Yellow Protective Suit Stretching

What was your life like before the pandemic? Did you have a specific set of rituals to make sure you start your day just right? There’s no reason that that routine had to stop just because we have had to self-isolate! If anything, this is a great opportunity to tweak your usual routine to fit the change of scene.

Don’t believe me? Take it from Dr Aida, a University Malaya Specialist Centre consultant psychiatrist, who suggests that we get creative with our new daily routines as we adjust to this situation. Doing tasks as simple as getting up, taking a shower, putting on day clothes and setting aside time for exercise to start your day will do wonders for maintaining your mental and emotional state. 

The goal here is to maintain a sense of normalcy to our day to day lives as much as possible.

Make time for routines that add value to different aspects of your life, such as your personal interests, relationships and your ambition throughout your day.

A consistent routine is not only great for reducing anxiety, stress and insomnia but also helps with your creativity and productivity, which brings me to my next point…

5. Set realistic goals

This to do 1. Own today printed frame beside teal headset

One of the easiest things to happen while being in lockdown is to suddenly find yourself feeling stuck in a rut. That, coupled with posts after posts of your friends’ quarantine activities on Instagram, it’s starting to seem like everyone has been productive but you!

But what does productivity mean to YOU?

Think back at all the times you wished you had the time to do certain things. Take this chance to focus on either personal development goals that will help your career, or hobbies you’ve left in the back burner for too long.

Whatever your choice of productivity is, make sure the goals you set for yourself are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound. Not only will they bring you pleasure, but because they are attainable, you’ll feel that sense of achievement in no time!

If you’re working from home this quarantine season and want to find ways to up your productivity, we’ve got you covered with our article here.

As the world moves into a new version of “normal”, maybe you’d like to get ahead of the game by levelling up in the tech sector this quarantine season. If that’s the case, be sure to look up MDEC for upskilling opportunities, where they offer courses and tools to expand your knowledge on the various major sectors such as e-commerce, data analytics, artificial intelligence and even cybersecurity.

Aching to learn new things but want something a little more light-hearted?

Many content creators have took to social media to live stream events, discussions and even fitness classes for their followers to join in. One of them being Jenn Chia (@soimjenn on Instagram), who has started a live stream program on Mondays through Saturdays cleverly named #LIVEsTooShort. According to Jenn, “life’s too short to feel bored at home” and we concur! Interact with Jenn and her star-studded influencer guests as they tackle beauty tips, art challenges, fitness routines, home decor and even cooking – there’s something for everyone!

Missed out on her past live streams? Don’t fret. They are all uploaded on to her IGTV channel so you can binge-watch while waiting for her latest one.

Whatever activity you may choose for yourself, what matters is that you stay motivated, occupied and accomplished.

6. Stay connected and kind

woman in purple V-neck top smiling while taking picture

At a time where physical contact is limited and even discouraged, it is vital that we do what we can to stay connected to our friends, family and community. Being the social creatures that we are, staying isolated can make us feel lonely. Loneliness can be linked to both physical and mental health problems, especially to those who already have pre-existing issues.

With that said, isolation may prove harder for others, so don’t forget to check up on those who may need support during this time!

If you or someone you know need support or someone to talk to, ReachIn has a compilation of helplines and free counselling services from different local organisations to reach out to.

In an effort to make mental health support more accessible to Malaysians, ReachIn was formed in collaboration between SOLS Health and MY Psychology with the support of CIMB Islamic Bank Berhad to provide a platform for free online mental health screening. The mental health screening comes in a form of a quick quiz that tells you your mental health tendencies. The results you get from the quiz, however, is not a diagnosis. They still recommend seeking professional help (reachable through their website), but it still gives you a good look into the state of your mental health for free!

If you’d like to extend a helping hand instead, check out the #KitaJagaKita grassroots initiative by Malaysians for Malaysians, that pools a collection of local initiatives you can donate to or volunteer for. Alternatively, they also offer the option to request for assistance from these local initiatives if you need any help with food, money, accommodation or counselling services during the MCO.

Similarly, you may also choose to contribute to humanitarian organisation Mercy Malaysia’s effort in assisting those affected by COVID-19. Keep track of their efforts through their website, where they update everything they have managed to deliver as a result of contributions from Malaysians across the country.

These efforts include essential goods delivered to front-liners, help in the form of psycho-social hotline calls made, areas disinfected and many more.

It is uplifting to see how much we can get done when all of us come together!

While we all go through these rocky times, remember to never undermine your struggles and practise care and compassion for yourself and those around you.

Take comfort in knowing that this too, shall pass and #WeWillWin!

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