Mental health: simple ideas that can make a difference

Mental Health_2020

(United Nations COVID-19 Response: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Mariana Bezerra Teles, a third year medial student at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte in Natal, Brazil. 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.

In the last months, with the appearance of the Coronavirus, humanity is living a time of big questions. Regardless of religion, social status, career or political opinions, it all came together in a single thought: waiting for the day when this virus will only be a reminder of a very difficult period. We, common people, take shelter in our homes and live a daily battle to guarantee our physical and mental health. The anxiety caused by isolation, the fear of being contaminated when going to the supermarket, the doubts about the information concerning the virus, the many uncertainties about the future and when we will be able to embrace again – these are some thoughts that can take us into an ocean of fears that can ruin our mental health.

Regarding this matter, I, a simple student, am going to talk a little about myself. More than 1 month ago, when my classes at the university were canceled, I left the city of Natal and returned to Fortaleza, where I was born, to be with my family. After 2 years of living alone, I would never have imagined returning home in the middle of the semester while facing a pandemic. A few days after returning home, I found myself crying in the bedroom and I didn’t fully understand the reason. I was distressed, I wanted to be able to go out, to see my boyfriend and, simply, to go to the condominium’s leisure area so I could, instead of concrete, have the sky over my head.

Talking to my mother, who saw how anxious I was, I realized how selfish I had been. At that very moment, many health professionals were helping to save lives, many patients were fighting against the virus and many less fortunate people did not have a concrete roof to protect them. On that same day, I realized that, sometimes, instead of going deeper into our fears, we need to take a pen and paper and make a list of what is within our reach to face the difficult moment.

  • Talk to someone: sometimes a simple conversation with whom you trust can soften many of your fears and concerns;
  • Select activities you like to do: read, watch a tv show or movie, sing, chat with your friend, or maybe, even study. Make a schedule with these pleasurable activities that can fill your days;
  • Practice self-care: simple attitudes, such as waking up in the morning, showering, tidying your room, exercising and having a good breakfast can bring great well-being;
  • Discover new opportunities: this can be a time to talk with people you haven’t talked to in a long time, to having family meals, take a board game out of the closet, collect supplies for the ones in need or help an elderly who cannot leave the house;
  • Be careful with the amount of new information: we need to be critical of whatever we read or see and look for reliable information vehicles.

About the author

Mariana Bezerra Teles is a third year medial student at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte in Natal, Brazil. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA, BRAZIL), working as local coordinator of the Publication and Research Committee. Also integrates the team of monitors of the disciplines of Operative Technique and Basic Pathology. Former member of the Academic League on Sexuality and Gender and participant in the “Third Week of Collective Health”, in 2018, at Natal, with the work "Developing care in different life cycles".


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