People all over the world are in pretty much the same boat: self-isolation. You’ve got your food stocked up, studies on hold, maybe you’re working from home. You’re ready to hunker down with the roomies or solo. Two weeks – that’s nothing, right? But the truth is, this is a pandemic. Two weeks, on repeat, may be your new normal. To survive and thrive through it, you’ll need to feed your mental health, too. As you enter times of self-isolation, taking care of your mental health is more important than ever. Truly preparing for a pandemic means preparing for long-term changes, which might include how you access therapy or if you access it at all. But, in this case, instead of batch-prepping as you would for meals, you have to learn how to take it day by day. That doesn’t mean resigning to hopelessness, however. As Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk and peace activist, once said, “Humankind’s survival depends on our ability to stop rushing.” It means we owe it to ourselves to be patient – with ourselves and each other. Here are six ways to care for your mental health in these confusing times. 1. Ground your anxiety Practising mindfulness and grounding techniques is useful to help us be present in this way, says Sierra Frederick, a social worker. It doesn’t help to be overly panicked about the future, which we can’t really control. “This pandemic takes our personal anxieties and makes them universal,” Frederick says. “We are going to start to see the toll on those who are not diagnosed already, have not actively treated symptoms, or are unaware that this is causing them mental stress. There will be trauma diagnoses that occur as a result of Covid-19 as well.” You can take back control when anxiety threatens your physical and mental health The truth is that it’s totally appropriate to feel everything you might be feeling right now. Let your most fearful, anxious self’s voice speak, and respond kindly to it. Don’t let it control or determine your next steps. 2. Avoid positive productivity This is not the time to be hard on yourself for lack of productivity, executive functioning or simply Being Human™. In fact, it’s not the time to suddenly try to fulfil your dreams and cross every big thing you’ve ever wanted to do off your mental to-do list. Just because you have more “free time” doesn’t mean you have to accomplish anything at all. Grind culture or positive productivity might actually be toxic right now. Take breaks. 3. Lean into compassion for others “People will have to let this time radicalise them to get through it,” says Araya Baker, a psychotherapist and former crisis counsellor. “This means not waiting to be impacted personally to realise that our fates are interconnected right now.” Yes, self-care is more important now than ever, but recognise that the way we choose to live now will directly impact how another may have to live forever. Practise prevention, folks! “The lesson in this pandemic should be that there’s a price to pay for forgetting and neglecting the vulnerable,” says Baker. “We’re all vulnerable right now, regardless of borders, class, or whatever other divisions and hierarchical identities we like to pretend are cellular-deep in order to ignore inequity and justify privilege.” 4. Set boundaries and hotlines for yourself There are plenty of ways we can take care of ourselves individually so that we can maintain morale to continue taking care of each other. One way we can help ourselves and our mental health is by setting boundaries, which might look like setting your phone aside so you’re not available for texts 24/7. It might mean introducing a routine with intentionally scheduled video chats and phone calls with friends and family. A useful source for global hotlines and websites for a range of mental health issues and emergencies It might also mean having the number of crisis hotlines to call when you’re experiencing intense thoughts and emotions. 5. Prioritise self-care Between staying updated with the world and taking care of ourselves, it’s also important to give space to ourselves, to breathe deeply and exist. “Doing activities that you haven’t had time for before is great. Catching up on tasks is great. Taking breaks is also great and necessary! With that being said, staying connected in a way that honours your own personal boundaries is important,” says Frederick. Take the time to pause. Make playlists to help you cope with specific moods and feelings. Make sure to get dressed every day. Create a routine that helps you. Make sure you get enough sleep. Stay hydrated. Keep up with personal hygiene. Open a window to breathe once in a while, if you can’t go out on a walk. Consider online therapy. Reflexology can help with stress relief – and you can do it yourself This is all very important for surviving these times. 6. Focus on your connection to others Like Frederick says, constantly worrying about the future won’t actually do us any good. There’s only so much we can control right now. We cannot control the virus or physically stop those we know and love from getting it. Everything may collapse, but that’s not what we are in control of. What we are in control of is our connection to others, that we are all responsible for each other. That’s what we can control: how we treat each other, if we’re kind to each other through prevention tactics or through the ways we shop. Take it day by day, but not alone. More than ever, we have to learn how to take life on day at a time with others in mind. Don’t forget there are other people in isolation, too. “Even amidst social distancing, now is the moment for people to embrace community care and interdependence,” says Baker. “See preventative measures ... both [as] a form of self-preservation and an ethical and moral obligation to be socially responsible.” Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re in this alone. Instead, slow down and think about the long lasting effects of our actions, which we can control. When all this is over, you may find comfort in how you took a stand to make the world a better place for both yourself and others. Purchase the China AI Report 2020 brought to you by SCMP Research and enjoy a 20% discount (original price US$400). This 60-page all new intelligence report gives you first-hand insights and analysis into the latest industry developments and intelligence about China AI. Get exclusive access to our webinars for continuous learning, and interact with China AI executives in live Q&A. Offer valid until 31 March 2020. This article was curated by Young Post . Better Life is the ultimate resource for enhancing your personal and professional life.