Mental health in times of a pandemic: What can each individual do to lessen the burden?

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(Nik Shuliahin, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Angela Josifoska, a 3rd year medical student at the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje, North Macedonia. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


We stay home every day to protect ourselves and our loved ones, to eat healthy food, consume more vitamins – all of this improves our immune system. But is it enough? How can we deal with the burden that is being caused by the many days passed in quarantine?

The changes that we experience during this period may bring us to our greatest challenge yet, a moment in which we will have to disinfect our minds, a time when we will acquire new habits, new views on life, to take a moment to deal with our feelings and emotions. Potential symptoms of quarantine time are:

Anxiety can be felt by any of us, in this situation we can recognize the fear that comes from a possible coronavirus pandemic, the economic consequences of the pandemic, the risk of infection in the workplace. When conducting an anonymous survey in the Republic of Northern Macedonia, which covered over 150 people, a large percentage (57%) of them feel fear of contracting this virus, many of the respondents (76%) are afraid of the consequences for the economy, and some of them (15%) are exposed to possible infection when performing their work duties.

Social distance is considered key to slowing the spread of coronavirus. However, it can lead to loneliness. In recent years, loneliness has been linked to health problems such as hypertension and sleep disorders. Much of the aforementioned survey. 44% feel lonely during a pandemic.

What can each individual do to lessen the burden? – Take care of yourself!

It’s essential to make your health a priority during this time. The critical self-care activities are sleep, physical exercise and a healthy diet. Find ways to address forms of stress, such as journaling. Be creative, let curiosity make you discover some talents in yourself that you didn’t know about until now and would reduce your stress, such as drawing, writing, playing chess, etc.

Educate yourself, a number of online courses have been made free by top organizations from around the globe. Example: https://www.edx.org/course.

Meditation and yoga are of great help when dealing with stress, a large amount of content on these activities can be found for free on websites such as www.youtube.com.

Don’t let yourself be lonely, make a phone or video call every day with your parents, friends, people who mean a lot to you.

We usually replace cooking with delicious food from the outside, but now in our quarantine time you are allowed to try to make food to your liking that will make you feel satisfied.

Today is a day when we need to start helping ourselves. To overcome the social distancing and get rid of the burden on ourselves, to do what we have failed in the fast-paced everyday life, to stay positive with pure thoughts.

About the author 

Angela Josifoska is a a 3rd year medical student at the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje, North Macedonia.

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