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How to maintain mental health during lock-down.

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Breaking news! The Federal government encourages all citizens to continue to stay at home as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increases to….

Kunle switched off the television in irritation, cutting off the news broadcast. “I’m sick and tired of being shut in. They keep saying stay at home… stay at home… stay at home… and do what?” he said out loud despite being all alone at home. He was so drained and felt like he couldn’t take it anymore. His sanity was at stake. ‘But how can I maintain my mental health in this lock-down?’ he wondered. He picked his phone and sent a text message to his accountability partner.

‘This lockdown is driving me bonkers. Please help!’

Lara was lounging on the couch when her phone beeped, signalling a text message. She glanced at the screen and quickly opened the message when she saw it was from Kunle. After reading his text, she first laughed out loud because she was also in the same boat. She was usually the life of the party and this lock-down was hitting her hard. Also, she knew she wasn’t the only one. Nina was lamenting the other day and Aisha was complaining about the same thing last week.

That gave her an idea. Since they all had the same challenge, they could as well give each other moral support. So she sent a reply to Kunle.

‘Hang in there buddy. I’ll be with you in a virtual minute.’

Then she made a group video call connecting all four of them.

AISHA: Hey! Good to see you guys.

KUNLE: See fresh faces! Seems I’m the only one this lockdown is devastating.

LARA: For where! It’s been something else o and it’s not just here. Someone sent a joke from Reddit. Let me read to you guys.

‘Just be careful because people are going crazy from being in lockdown! Actually I’ve just been talking about this with the microwave and toaster while drinking coffee and all of us agreed that things are getting bad. I didn’t mention anything to the washing machine as she puts a different spin on everything. Certainly not to the fridge as he’s acting cold and distant. In the end the iron calmed me down as she said everything will be fine, no situation is too pressing.

The vacuum was very unsympathetic… told me to just suck it up, but the fan was more optimistic and hoped it would all soon blow over! The toilet looked a bit flushed when I asked its opinion and didn’t say anything but the door knob told me to get a grip. The front door said I was unhinged and so the curtains told me to… yes, you guessed it… pull myself together.’

NINA: Wow! So creative. But it’s really tough being in lock down mode with kids. You guys are lucky.

LARA: The sea weed is always greener in somebody else’s lake. You think it’s easier on us?

NINA: Well, yeah!

LARA: No. It’s not. I even think it’s easier on you because you have people to keep you busy.

NINA: I hear you. I can barely get five minutes to just breathe with three children under five, so doing something for myself is tough.

KUNLE: Wait! Does it really make any difference who has it easier or harder? You all know my struggle with bipolar affective disorder and I’ve come this close to losing it. The issue is we all are stuck at home, feeling stuck and it’s affecting us one way or another.

LARA: Yeah, actually. So what do we do? How do we keep our sanity in the midst of this because we don’t know how long this lockdown will continue… Hey! Why is Aisha not saying anything?

AISHA: Lol. I was waiting for you guys to land. You know I was complaining about the same thing last week so I’m with you but I spoke to Doctor Toba and he gave me three tips that have helped me maintain my sanity.

KUNLE: Spill o.

AISHA: Well, he said to maintain mental health in the lock-down, you need to:

“Decide, Determine and Do.”

So let me break it down.

Decide.

The first step is to make a conscious decision to have a positive mind-set irrespective of what happens. This involves focusing only (or at least mainly) on positive, happy things and being productive such that your brain enjoys the satisfaction of being engaged. You know why this works? Because human beings were designed to be productive. So, when you decide, it means there’s no room for complaining about the situation or lamenting about how bad things are. Instead we must consciously tell our minds to see the good stuff. It’s hard at first, but just like with any training process it gets easier the more we engage it.

NINA: Hmmmm. Ok. Go on.

AISHA: Moving on to the next tip.

Determine

We each need to determine what would help us keep a positive outlook to all that is going on. It’s a personal thing because my positive nuggets would likely be different from yours. For me instance, I realized that watching the news constantly only made me feel depressed and worried while some people need to keep up-to-date to feel alright. So I figured I need to cut off and only check the news every few days. I also realized that since I’ve always been an outdoors person, I need to find a way to keep touch with the outside world.

LARA: And how exactly are you able to do that in lock-down mode?

AISHA: By going for an early morning jog on my street before most people are up, spending more time on my balcony and watching more documentaries on the great outdoors.

LARA: And it works?

AISHA: Yup!

NINA: That cannot work for me o.

AISHA: Exactly. You need to find what works. For example, determining that you need to reach out and call someone daily, or a video call like this could be your own thing. It could be a determination to read, take a course online or perfect a skill.

LARA: Wow. I should give you a virtual high-five but there’s still social distancing.

AISHA: Ah ah! Even online? Anyways, that leads to the final piece of the puzzle:

DO!

After determining what you need to stay sane and positive during this COVID-19 lockdown…

KUNLE: Actually, nobody wants to be positive for COVID-19….

AISHA: Silly you, you know I mean keeping a positive frame of mind not testing positive for COVID 19. So as I was saying, after determining what would help your mind stay positive, you need to go ahead and just do it. For me, I found out that it’s crucial to have a schedule to do all the things I determined were important. So I still ensure my morning routine continues; I take a bath and get dressed and sit at my table. That way I’m not just lazing around all day.

LARA: Don’t you sometimes feel as though you’re deceiving yourself? Don’t you get bored?

AISHA: Yeah. I do sometimes and I feel like quitting but I remind myself why I’m doing it in the first place; which is to remain positive and productive. So whatever it takes…even if it means deceiving myself, I do!

KUNLE: That’s deep! I think I’m joining you on this train. Decide, Determine and Do.

NINA: Yeah! Let’s do it!

Let's do it
Image by S K from Pixabay

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10 thoughts on “How to maintain mental health during lock-down.”

  1. TOLULOPE EYITAYO ASALA

    Decide, Determine and Do. I’ll keep this for application. Nice work Mercy. Keep it going. I like the creative angle to it. Thank you.

  2. MICHAEL A. ADEYEMI

    This story on how to maintain mental health during lockdown is quite interesting. Your beautiful narration of the behaviours and reactions of the characters in the story is highly commendable. More grace.

  3. Opeyemi Babalola

    Mercy us good at what she does!
    Thank you for sharing with us. The “Decide” part reminds me of that part of scripture that says to think about things that are of only good reports.
    Well done!!!

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