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7 tips to boost mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

It’s 2022 and there is still no end in sight to the pandemic. Whether it’s yet another wave or a new variant, many of us are tired of an uncertain future that changes at the drop of a hat. Straight from the Hong Kong government’s Mental Health Relief Scheme Self Help Guide, safeguard your mental health with these 7 mental health tips during the COVID-19 pandemic in this Pacific Prime Hong Kong article.

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How to boost mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

It’s no surprise that quarantine and prolonged periods of isolation and uncertainty can wreak havoc on your mental health. That’s why you should look after both your mental and physical health as they drop off easily. It’s also important to note that emotional fluctuations are a normal part of life. Here are our tips:

1. Be mindful of your thoughts and feelings

Have you noticed that when you’re stressed, your thoughts tend to spiral? You might have been caught in the following thinking traps:

  • Catastrophizing is a tendency to see the worst possible outcome of any given situation.
  • A mental filter or a ‘tunnel vision’ where you over-focus on one aspect (usually negative) of a situation and overlook the rest.
  • Black and white/all-or-nothing thinking is to see only one extreme or the other. For example, you think in absolutes, such as “always”, “never”, or “every” and do not allow shades of grey.
  • Having high standards and believing that things “should” or “must” be done a certain way
  • …and more.

What you can do:

Understand that it’s perfectly normal for you to experience negative feelings sometimes like fear, anger, worry, shame, etc. You should tune into your thoughts and feelings by asking yourself questions like: “Is there any evidence behind what I am thinking?”, “Is there another way of looking at this?”, or “What would be a more helpful way of thinking about this?”.

A mood journal is also a good place to note down the times when you were experiencing strong emotions. It’s important to understand them so you know which actions to take to help you feel better.

Grounding or self-soothing exercises
  • 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 grounding technique redirects your attention away from negative thoughts and feelings and towards the present moment.

In a nutshell, this is how it works:

Name 4 things that you can SEE.

Name 3 things that you can HEAR.

Name 2 things that you can SMELL.

Name 1 thing that you can TASTE.

  • Box breathing slows down your breathing and calms your nervous system. Breathe in counting slowly to 4. Hold your breath for 4 seconds. Slowly exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds. Repeat until you feel re-centered.

2. Monitor how often you are checking the news to protect your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

Every day, many of you are constantly bombarded with news updates. These can be detrimental to your mental health, as you are made highly aware of threats that exist in the world.

What you can do:

Limit your time spent checking the news to once or twice per day. The key is to stay updated with important news while also engaging with tasks that truly help you move forward in life. In addition, only pay attention to reliable news sources. Fake news and its tendency to fearmonger is stress-inducing.

3. Stay socially connected

Stay socially connected and physically distanced. Throughout the past few years, you may have come to realize that social connection is a huge factor in stress management and maintaining wellbeing. Quarantine, isolation, and remote working all make us lonely.

What you can do:

Technology has rewarded us with a wide spectrum of tools to stay connected. If you’re feeling lonely, feel free to hop on a video call with a loved one or check in with them through a text message. Alternatively, write longer emails for a deeper sense of connection. Or, even better, if possible, catch up with them in person. Most people’s mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic suffers and keeping in touch might be just the mutual support you both need.

4. Look after your physical health

Physical and mental health are closely linked. That’s why it can be easy for your physical health to deteriorate while you’re in quarantine or otherwise socially isolated. On the flip side, working on your physical health will also boost your mental health. Here are six areas you could work on right now:

  • Healthy eating
  • Staying active
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Practice good hygiene
  • Avoid alcohol/smoking
  • Looking after medical needs

What you can do:

Follow along to online equipment-free workouts. This way, even if you are socially isolated at home, you can still maintain and boost your mood and health. It’s also a good idea to partake in relaxation techniques to relieve stress.

5. Find effective ways to spend your time

Sometimes, when you’re experiencing high levels of stress, it’s easy to find yourself spending many hours doing mindless things that drive up your worry and stress levels even more. One example would be doomscrolling, or endlessly scrolling through your newsfeed regardless of how bad the news is. Needless to say, this does a number on your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What you can do:

Ask yourself what activities or tasks tend to help you feel like you’re being productive. Working, planning for the future, researching hobbies, and speaking to loved ones are just a few examples. Remember: there is more than one way to be productive with your time– it doesn’t have to be work-related.

6. Identify your own resources

In the face of uncertainty and high stress, you may lose confidence in your own abilities. Unfortunately, they are usually the tools you could use to navigate through difficult times.

What you can do:

Think of someone who really cares for you. What would they say your greatest strengths are? If you aren’t sure what they would say, now would be a good time to ask them. In times of need, you can turn to these resources to help you out.

7. Practice self-compassion for your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

We are our own worst critic. You might find that your inner critic is more prevalent in this turbulent time. However, being repeatedly told that you are ‘useless’ or ‘dumb’, for example, impacts your self-esteem.

What you can do:

Ask yourself what you would say to a friend who was in this situation. Oftentimes, you’ll find that you wouldn’t say half the things your inner critic would say to your loved ones. By distancing yourself from the situation, it’s easier to offer yourself self-compassion.

Put your health first with Pacific Prime Hong Kong

If none of these tips work for you, you might want to check out these mental health resources in Hong Kong. Alternatively, check out these tips to prioritize your mental health at work. Therapy and alternative wellness treatments can be expensive in Hong Kong. That’s why it’s a good idea to secure international health insurance in Hong Kong.

With over two decades of experience in the insurance brokerage industry, we work with top insurers to provide you with the best plans. Get a free quote now with our online comparison tool! Alternatively, contact our team of expert advisors for a free plan comparison and impartial advice.

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Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime Hong Kong
Serena Fung is a Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime, a global insurance brokerage and employee specialist serving over 1.5 million clients in 15 offices across the world. With 2+ years of experience writing about the subject, she aims to demystify the world of insurance for readers with the latest updates, guides and articles on the blog.

Serena earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of British Columbia, Canada. As such, she is an avid advocate of mental health and is fascinated by all things psychology (especially if it’s cognitive psychology!).

Her previous work experience includes teaching toddlers to read, writing for a travel/wellness online magazine, and then a business news blog. These combined experiences give her the skills and insights she needs to explain complex ideas in a succinct way. Being the daughter of an immigrant and a traveler herself, she is passionate about educating expats and digital nomads on travel and international health insurance.
Serena Fung