Another Mental Health Awareness Week Singapore went by with the population still facing strict COVID-19 gathering restrictions, back to working from home as default, and an increasing number of COVID-19 positive cases published in the news daily despite the high vaccination rates.
I recall for World Mental Health Day 2020, we were looking forward to our staff wellness treat of a complimentary head and shoulder massage but that was cancelled when restrictions were re-announced and offices closed down yet again. Needless to say, none of such mental health wellness activities were scheduled for this year under the restrictions.
In the meantime, we are being inundated with all sorts of distressing and dramatic news on our local media, without much else to distract us since most of us are done churning out burnt basque cheesecakes or whipping up some dalgona coffees this year.
With the flurry of excitement over the recent Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTLs) and promise of travel ahead, this could ease some of our low spirits. However, it is still seen as a luxury by people who just cannot afford the time off work, the costs of COVID-19 travel and associated tests, or any possibility of getting COVID-19 overseas, amongst other considerations.
That being said, it is now more crucial than ever to refresh and recall some mental health tips to tide us through yet another slump. If you find yourself spiralling out from the compounded effects of burnout and fatigue due to the continued re-opening and re-closing of the city, focus on achieving the following immediate goals to get through the rest of the year:
1. Set clear boundaries between work and leisure
After months of lockdowns, it is very tempting to start neglecting boundaries between work and rest, especially when we are bored out of our minds with nothing else to do at home, assuming a small email here or small work text there won’t hurt.
However, such habits take a huge strain on our mental health in the long run without us even realising. Always make an effort to “leave” your work desk on time for regular meals and take a proper break in the evening. If you eat at the same table you use for your work station, try to keep away your laptop, books, files and notes before your meals so that your mind is removed from work for a while.
2. Disconnect and re-connect with family and friends
Forgetting how to interact with people in real life versus over virtual calls is a real phenomenon. We have perfected conducting virtual meetings using discussion cues, raising our “hands” at appropriate timings and typing in the chat when necessary, at the expense of offline social skills.
Putting yourself out there once again, especially with the Delta variant always lurking, can be socially debilitating and cause real anxiety. Make an effort to schedule catch-ups with friends and family outdoors or over a meal, or have it over phone (not video) call if you can’t do it physically.
Set aside time to live in the moment and disconnect from your electronic devices. Let your mind and eyes take a break from the burden of unlimited online information and news once in a while.
3. Maintain physical health with good habits
With our motivation levels waning, it can take even greater effort to get out of home and get moving. Perhaps you have already explored every hiking trail in Singapore and tried out every single fitness class available (aerial yoga, EMS bodysuit training, wake surfing, trampoline parks, longboarding, and the list goes on..).
Taking a step back from novelty, try keeping to regular, moderate and familiar exercises to maintain some level of activity as you go about your daily routine without pushing too hard and risk exhausting yourself mentally and physically. We are in it for the long-run now.
Some good examples: yoga and stretching, bodyweight workouts, long walks or cycling along the park connector. Such simple workouts also help to relieve the strain on your shoulders, back and legs if you spend long hours sitting in front of your computer.
Consider supplementing physical activity with a good diet (read: less processed foods high in sugar and fats, increase fibre intake with vegetables and some fruit) and have sufficient, regular sleep (7-8 hours) to recover from the day.
The above three ways help address physical and emotional needs for Mental Health Awareness Week Singapore, which ultimately contributes to overall mental health wellness during this time of pandemic fatigue and burnout.
If you want to know more about tips after lockdown, check out: Wellness tips for your mental health post-lockdown or if you have some downtime after work, consider watching one of these: 4 Soothing Netflix Documentaries to Escape 2020