“21st May 2020
The numbers of those affected by the virus go up by hundreds every day! At Least I’m safe and comfortable at home, so why do I still feel so scared and upset?”
It has been over a month of students in the UAE being home-bound due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Online school, zoom catchup calls, webinars and Netflix binging are now our new normal. As ‘relaxing’ as this new lifestyle may seem – the truth is, it isn’t too easy on our mental health. We are missing out on significant occasions of our adolescence like graduation, prom and birthdays. We are also combatting the anxiety of an uncertain future with regards to University applications, final exams and financial burdens. Moreover, as we reluctantly embark on the path of adulthood, we realize that we have a responsibility to look after ourselves and others in our families/communities.
Is there ANY silver lining?
As much as this pandemic feels like an unprecedented situation, humankind has successfully emerged from various epidemics in the past. For instance, research on the SARS epidemic in Hongkong shows that the epidemic fostered better family and social support, mental health awareness and healthier lifestyle. This social support helped individuals overcome negative emotions of anxiety, fear and sorrow. Similarly, In the UAE, there are several digital resources from MentalHealthAE, HappyUAE, the ‘Taaluf’ Hotline and telehealth services from various healthcare centres to support us through this tough time of COVID-19.
How can I be resilient in these uncertain times?
A mental strength that can help us adapt to these tough times is emotional resilience, our ability to mentally adapt to stressful situations and ‘roll with the punches.’ We can all build our emotional resilience by harbouring positive emotions of hope, love and gratitude. We must have hope and pray that the world will successfully be able to overcome this pandemic, have gratitude towards our loved ones, country and frontline workers, and show love to all the people who risk their lives every day to support the country.
We can also achieve positivity by curating the information we consume, especially since negative news travels faster and wider on social media. Turn your social media into a safe space, filter the posts you want to see and only believe news updates from reliable and credible sources. Make a conscious effort to read about and remember good news amidst the pandemic, for example: Fifty eateries in the UAE have collectively contributed over 400,000 meals to feed individuals and families financially affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.
How can we adjust to the new normal?
As students adjust to the new reality of online classes, psychologists recommend many strategies to remain productive. Firstly, we should restructure our goals. For example, reframe the vague and daunting goal of, “Complete exam syllabus” to the more specific, “complete chapters 2 and 3 today”. Another technique is giving ourselves actionationables, for example, “If I have lunch today then I must complete 2 Chapters today.” (This only works if your ‘if’ activities are certain or regular).
On a deeper level, adjusting to this new normal requires a shift in our mindset from a fixed mindset, a belief that our abilities are set in stone to a growth mindset, a belief that we can cultivate skills through perseverance. We should inculcate the belief that we, as a nation, can cultivate the ability to get through this challenge. On a personal level, a growth mindset will help us accept our difficulties in tackling the pandemic, and view challenges as opportunities to develop our resilience.
“2nd April 2020
I will continue to develop a growth mindset to understand that my family and I will overcome any obstacles this pandemic puts in our path. After all, tomorrow is another day.”