Pandemic mental health: the urgency of self-care

_mental health_

(Melanie Wasser, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Leigh Nathalie da Silva and Ms. Maria Catarina de Cassia Quirino, two medical students at the State University of Londrina (UEL), located in Londrina, 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.

A health crisis has never been more globalized than the new coronavirus pandemic. With today’s globalization, Covid-19’s frightening transmission potential is faced. Isolating oneself as a preventive measure, however, influences both the subjective precariousness of life, be it in the increase of fear, anxiety or family interpersonal conflicts, or in the development of existential self-knowledge, namely, in the intimate encounter of the self. Mental health, in this unprecedented case, becomes a potentially reducible burden with self-care strategies.

Many measures to improve the quality of life have been published in different social media, and of these, the need for routine sleep maintenance is highlighted. Deregulation of the circadian cycle can cause episodes of insomnia and drowsiness, both complex and difficult to quantify. Insomnia can cause functional damage and significant suffering, while drowsiness, accidents resulting from naps at inopportune hours. The consequences of lack of sleep act on at least three levels: 1) biological variables (tiredness, memory and attention deficit); 2) medial variables (increased risk of accidents that may be related to naps at the wheel) and 3) extensive variables (loss of employment, sequeals of accidents, worsening health problems) ².

The zeal for quality of sleep, combined with a balanced diet and the practice of physical exercises, corroborate with the Self-Care Theory. This theory, proposed by Nurse Dorothea E. Orem, deals with “[…] the practice of activities that individuals personally initiate and perform for their own benefit to maintain life, health and well-being” ³. All of these behaviors have a significant influence mental and physical health of the individual, and acquire greater relevance in times of pandemic, as they contribute to the willingness to carry out activities and to the construction of a new routine.

Another issue that deserves attention is the excess and inaccuracy of information about the pandemic and its implications. It is a true “infodemia”, as the director-general of the World Health Organization has described: a rapid and numerous dispersion of news and rumors, overloading the mental health of the population and generating anxiety, uncertainty and confusion about what is true or not4. To combat this reality, the main suggestions address the reduction of time devoted to viewing news and the reliability of information sources5. However, even if little time is spent searching for updates on the current situation, social networks do not allow total control over the quantity and quality of information. In order to minimize this misinformation, it is recommended to seek reliable sources, prioritizing newspapers and reference sites and, on social networks, profiles of government and health authorities.

In short, in the context of the pandemic, mental health is severely affected, making it a burden for many. Self-care practices, such as preserving the sleep routine, eating in a balanced way and exercising physically, can minimize the negative effects of this scenario and reduce this burden. Furthermore, maintaining balance in the search for information and valuing reliable information sources are measures recommended by specialists and have a positive impact on the quality of mental health.


[1] Martinez D, Lenz MCS, Menna-Barreto L. Diagnóstico dos transtornos do sono relacionados ao ritmo circadiano. J Bras Pneumol. 2008; 34:173–80. doi: 10.1590/S1806-37132008000300008.

[2] Müller MR, Guimarães SS. Impacto dos transtornos do sono sobre o funcionamento diário e a qualidade de vida. Estud Psicol (Campinas). 2007; 24:519–28. doi: 10.1590/S0103-166X2007000400011.

[3] Remor A, Brito IS, Petters VR, Santos EKA. A teoria do autocuidado e sua aplicabilidade no sistema de alojamento conjunto. Rev Bras Enferm 1986;39:6–11. doi: 10.1590/S0034-71671986000300002.

[4] Moraes RF. Nota Técnica n. 27: Prevenindo conflitos sociais violentos em tempos de pandemia: garantia de renda, manutenção da saúde mental e comunicação efetiva. Diretoria de Estudos e Políticas do Estado, das Instituições e da Democracia, Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada. 2020 apr. [cited 2020 apr 21]. Available from:

[5] Institute for Disaster Mental Health. Tips for Community Members. COVID-19: Managing Stress in this Anxious Time. New York;  2020 [cited 2020 apr 21]. Available from:

About the author

Leigh Nathalie da Silva is a third-time medical student at the State University of
Londrina (UEL), located in Londrina, Paraná, Brazil. She has been a member of IFMSA
Brasil since 2019 and is part of the Standing Committee on Public Health (SCOPH).
Passionate about literature and admirer of medicine, mainly pediatrics and cardiology.

Maria Catarina de Cassia Quirino is a student in the 5th period of Medicine at the State
University of Londrina (UEL). Member of IFMSA Brazil UEL since 2018, she has been
the local director of communication and media (LCMD) and is currently the Local
Financial Director (LDF) of the UEL committee. She is studying medicine for the sake
of her future profession, especially in the field of pediatrics and hopes that one day she
will be able to collaborate with her community.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Here’s how tech can help governments fight corruption

Khashoggi trial in Saudi Arabia falls short of independent, international probe needed: UN rights chief

Mobile technology saving lives: Changing healthcare systems with simple technology solutions

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: Venezuela-Colombia baby breakthrough, Italy piles on rescue boat pressure, States must combat hate, Kashmir rights latest and a musical plea to combat CAR hunger

Climate change will force us to redefine economic growth

This AI can predict your personality just by looking at your eyes

Northern Ireland: Parliament wants to secure post-Brexit regional funding

UN launches Facebook Messenger-powered bot to take on climate change

Keeping cool in the face of climate change

‘Favour dialogue’ over violence, UN chief urges all parties following clashes in Mali’s capital

Building climate resilience and peace, go hand in hand for Africa’s Sahel – UN forum

Being blinded by labels stops social change. Art helps us see a better future

Here’s why upskilling is crucial to drive the post-COVID recovery

UN, African Union make significant joint commitment to global health

Protecting refugees in Europe: UNHCR calls for a ‘year of change’

Yemen: UN envoy asks Security Council for more support ‘to move back’ to the negotiating table

Is the EU denying its social character favouring a banking conglomerate?

UN rights chief Bachelet appeals for dialogue in Sudan amid reports ‘70 killed’ in demonstrations

How the US should react to the pandemic, according to Bill Gates

One million facing food shortages, nutrition crisis after Mozambique cyclones: UNICEF

4 ways Africa can prepare its youth for the digital economy

UN agencies launch emergency plan for millions of Venezuelan refugees and migrants

Do doctors need to know their patients’ sexual orientation and gender identity?

The next 48 hours may change the European Union

The UK referendum has already damaged Europe: even a ‘remain’ result is not without cost to Britain and the EU

Mali facing ‘alarming’ rise in rights violations, warns UN expert

A European Discovers China: 3 First Impressions

5 things to know about African migration

MWC 2016 LIVE: GTI shifts to phase two – 5G – after hitting milestones

If we want to solve climate change, water governance is our blueprint

Minsk “ceasefire” leaves more doubts than safety, with EU already planning steps further

Trade: First year of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement shows growth in EU exports

Electronic Cigarettes: Are they really as safe as we think?

UN and African Union in ‘common battle’ for development and climate change financing

Parallel downfalls of Merkel and Deutsche Bank threaten Germany and Europe

For video game addiction, now read official ‘gaming disorder’: World Health Organization

A new proposal breaks the stalemate over the Banking Union

To Brexit, or not to Brexit…rather not: 10 Downing Street, London

AI can be a game-changer for the world’s forests. Here’s how

What young people can teach world leaders about mental health in 2020

How can you or your organization support the Hour of Pride initiative?

Why do humanitarian crises disproportionately affect women?

Russia and the West to partition Ukraine?

Uzbekistan wins its long fight against malaria, as global rates continue to rise

Clean air is good for business

These are the world’s 20 most dynamic cities

Making the most of the Sustainable Development Goal 3: its overlooked role in medical education

Capital transaction tax on Ecofin table

International Women’s Day 2019: more equality, but change is too slow

An all-out fight for the EU budget

World Digital Media Awards winners announced at WNMC.19 in Glasgow, in association with The European Sting

Millennials (and Gen X) – Here are the steps you should take to secure your financial future

Forget GDP – for the 21st century we need a modern growth measure

David Attenborough’s worried about this ocean threat – and it’s not plastic

Is this the way to finally beat corruption?

80 adolescents a day will still die of AIDS by 2030, despite slowdown in epidemic

UN ceasefire monitoring chief tours Yemeni port of Hudaydah

DR Congo elections: ‘historic opportunity’ for ‘peaceful transfer of power’ says Security Council

Consumers’ rights against defective digital content agreed by EU lawmakers

Parliament mobilised to channel EU funds to those affected by Coronavirus pandemic

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s