How to keep a healthy mind in times of social isolation

depressed denmark

(Krists Luhaers

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Heloisa Picolotto Oliveira, 21 and Stephany Paola de Souza, 24, two fourth-year medical student at Unicesumar, Paraná, Brazil. They are 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 writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

In January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of a respiratory illness caused by a new Coronavirus – COVID-19, which emerged in Wuhan, China and spread quickly to others cities and countries.  In March 2020, WHO assessed the COVID-19 characterizing it as a pandemic as the spread affected more than 200 countries around the world.

Along with the quickly spread of the disease, the insecurity and concern about the unknown exacerbated other feelings such as fear, worry and anxiety in the general population, especially in certain risk groups, such as older adults and people with underlying health condition.

At the beginning, the main psychological impact comprised of high rates of stress and anxiety. However, with social isolation, many habitual activities and routines were affected, increasing levels of loneliness, depression, insomnia, disability and unproductivity. Harmful conditions as alcohol and drug use, self-harm and suicidal behavior are also expected to increase. Along with that, people are daily bubbled by utopian incentives to produce and be mentally and physically active all the time, which can also be a problem. As we know, every individual is unique, with personal faults and qualities, so that each one must evaluate and develop yourself according to your limitations.

Therefore, to minimize mental injury, avoid reading or listening to news about COVID-19 that can make you feel anxious or distresses, and seek information  from trusted sources to protect yourself and your family. The stream of fake news about an outbreak can lead to excessive worry and anxiety. Avoid spreading fear and misinformation.

At this moment of uncertainty, we must take care of our well-being and those around us. That said, share positive and hopeful news, assist neighbors and older adults who may need some extra assistance with supermarket. Try to be supportive other people who are going through a time of need. Help people with financial problems, with basic baskets for example, and listen to a friend who needs to talk and give words of comfort and hope. Keep regular sleep and routines whit physical activities, meditation and yoga. Eat healthy food and stay connected with friends and family, in video calls, social media and cellphone. And especially, it’s very important to relax and practice activities that you enjoy.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO): “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” So, keeping mental health is as important as physical health, as both are connected. In conclusion, the human body is a large machine, made by several gears and one of them is mental health, therefore, all components must be functioning in order to developing individual.

About the authors

Heloisa Picolotto Oliveira, 21, fourth-year medical student at Unicesumar, Paraná, Brazil. Affiliated, local marketing director (LCM-D) and local coordinator at the International Federation of Medical Students Association (IFMSA).

Stephany Paola de Souza, 24, fourth-year medical student at Unicesumar, Paraná Brazil. Member of the Gynecology-Obstetrics and Vascular Surgery and Angiology academic leagues.

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