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 Milestone

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

Refugees in Greece: MEPs demand solidarity, warn about impact of health crisis

European Youth, quo vadis?

The US banks drive the developing world to a catastrophe

Ending use of chemical weapons in Syria: ‘still work to be done’, says UN disarmament chief

An introduction to ‘Eco-Medical Literacy’ and its importance in shaping expert medical professionals

UK economy in dire straits: leading banks now officially plan to Brexit too

Youth employment crisis easing but far from over

These 4 leaders are working to improve integration in Southeast Asia

As Libya talks resume in Geneva, UN negotiator seeks to overcome sticking points

Public Policies for LGBT in Brazil

UN Climate Action Summit concludes with insufficient EU and global pledges

‘Reef cubes’: could these plastic-free blocks help save the ocean?

The EU Parliament slams Commission on economic governance

To rebuild trust in the media, we must empower its consumers

Italy and Greece zeroed their fiscal deficits, expect Germany’s response

Sherpa climbers carried out the highest-ever spring clean. This is what they found

What companies gain by including persons with disabilities

“Be aware where you put your I Agree signature on and something else”; now Facebook by default opts you in an unseen private data bazar

The green hydrogen revolution has started, and it won’t be stopped

The EU resumes budget support assistance to the Republic of Moldova

The US repelled EU proposals on common rules for banks

This Kenyan company makes fuel from human poo

Erdogan vies to become Middle East Sultan over Khashoggi’s killing

Cities are especially vulnerable to COVID-19. These organizations are leading the urban response.

World Wildlife Day: UN chief urges ‘more caring’ relationship with nature

Statement by the Brexit Steering Group on UK paper on EU citizens in the UK

6 ways to ensure AI and new tech works for – not against – humanity

Budget MEPs back €1.6 million to help 400 former workers of Carrefour Belgium

Art, mental health and suicide: different strategies for increasing access to health services

Who may profit from the rise of the extreme right in the West?

Everything you need to know about the coronavirus

Thought AIs could never replace human imagination? Think again

Coronavirus: the truth against the myths

The scheming of Boris: win an election after a no-deal Brexit

The European Sting writes down the history LIVE from G20 Leaders’ Summit in Turkey

With 5 billion set to miss out on health care, UN holds landmark summit to boost coverage

How our food system is eating away at nature, and our future

UN court increases sentence of former Bosnian-Serb leader to life imprisonment

Harmonised Unemployment Rates (HURs), OECD – Updated: February 2020

Europe bows to Turkey’s rulers, sends Syrian refugees back to chaos

Meet the robot fighting back against coral reef destruction

Reimagining the future for skills: What we learned from young people

Brexit talks: Today the world to hear of a predictable failure

Climate Change and Human Health: Two Faces of The Same Coin

This team of Saudi women designed an award-winning app to make the Hajj safer

Leaders need hard data to make the hard decisions about sustainability

UN chief welcomes announcement by Emir of Qatar to allocate $50 million to support Syrian refugees, displaced persons

Brexiteer May gets lip-service from Trump and Turkish promises from Erdogan

Health privatisation: reviving Alma-Ata

‘Make healthy choices’ urges UN agency, to prevent and manage chronic diabetes

Digital distrust: We’re losing faith in technology to solve the world’s problems

Commission notifies the Republic of Panama over the need to step up action to fight against illegal fishing

War of words in Davos over Eurozone’s inflation/deflation

Successful carbon removal depends on these 3 conditions

Here are 5 new green laws coming into force in 2020

Top UN Syria envoy hails ‘impressive’ start to historic talks in Geneva

Inaction on obesity stands in the way of sustainable development

Coronavirus: First case confirmed in Gulf region, more than 6,000 worldwide

Commission caps charges on card and Internet payments and enforces competition

Tech companies could achieve much more by serving the common good. Here’s 3 steps they should take

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