We are all so used to certainty and things going according to our plans. When things start to feel uncertain or unsafe, it is normal for us to feel stressed and anxious about the things we feel we should be able to control but are unable to. We are also aware that social distancing is the main way to suppress and stop the spread of this virus. Therefore, many countries have gone into lockdown and long-term quarantine. In these difficult and unpredictable situations, it is possible for our mental health to suffer. It is normal for you to feel angry, helpless, sad, and more frustrated. But, it is important to tell yourself that you can respond to it positively and that you have the ability to cope with it. Here are some things you can do to protect your mental health during this period:
Focus on your well-being
As I’ve learned in my recovery, thinness is NOT equal to being healthy; in fact, I was in the worst possible health when I was at my lowest weight. This difficult time is a time to focus on your well-being and not on making sure you get “some exercise” done every day. You may be stress eating at times and that’s okay. If you don’t feel like doing Yoga or “being productive,” that’s okay too; really, whatever floats your boat.
Stay away from the goddamn scale
If you have a tenuous relationship with the weighing scale, you may be sorely tempted to weigh yourself more often now that you are at home the whole day. It’s not a good idea; what is a good idea is to keep your scale in a place where you can’t access it easily, or best, smash it. The number on the scale is not reflective of your health or well-being and your toxic relationship with your scale is not worth it.
Maintain a schedule
Try to maintain a schedule for waking up, working, showering, combing your hair, and eating your meals on time. The bare minimum you should do before you sit down to work is a shower and change of clothes; it’s possible to get lost in work and not remember to shower. It’s possible to get lost in work and not remember to eat. Your hunger cues may be all over the place as you’re stressed and are at your wit’s end, but try scheduled eating. People experience a spike in their hunger when they are going through difficult times; so it’s okay if you’re hungrier than usual. Your body knows what it’s doing..
Try to stock up
I know your food anxiety is building up; if possible, stock up on some ready-to-eat meals and dry food items like rice, lentils, and legumes. These items will last you for a long time and will reassure you about having enough food to eat when you’re hungry. It’s not selfish to stock up on some food if it brings you peace of mind. You need not eat a perfectly healthy meal all the time nor does your meal always have to be nutritionally balanced. Stop counting calories, stop worrying about whether or not your meal has enough protein or is too high in carbs, or whatever it is that you think about your food all the time. The point is to just eat.
Give yourself some extra love
Schedule time every single day to do things that you love or to nurture your body. This could be practicing a song or dance, cooking your favourite food, or having a hot bath. It’s also important to keep your body moving, get enough sleep, and eat nourishing food. This will help you be relaxed and positive, giving you the strength to cope with the difficulties that the day may bring.
Confide in your fears
Talk to someone you trust about all your rising fears. It may be your parents, siblings, friends, or colleagues. Really, anyone who is able to empathize with you. Tell them your insecurities, your feelings, your turbulent emotions, and your fears; let someone know that you’re experiencing such anxiety.
And lastly, don’t give in to the diet mentality even though the times are difficult; this is not what you recovered for, struggling through tins of Ensure and strips of Gelusil. It’s time to stay safe, stay positive, and stay well.