When the Prime Minister announced the Movement Control Order (MCO) early last week, I thought I was going to be alright considering I have been in a state of constant health threat and mostly home-bound for a long time prior to that. After a few days, I became gradually overwhelmed by the entire situation and realise that this is different and much harder than I thought it would be. To cope with the increasing fear and anxiety, I came up with this practical list of tips. Although I do not know if it will absolutely work (because I am trying it out myself), I know that it is general enough to help almost anyone right now. I hope you will find it helpful too.
Tip 1: Follow the MCO and MOH recommendations
You may have started to feel like you are losing your grip because of the rapidly evolving nature of the pandemic. That is completely normal. But, if gaining control is what you are after, there is no better way than to follow the MCO and MOH recommendations because those are things that you could control and they are definitely within your control. So, stay at home, wash your hands with soap and water regularly and practice good cough etiquette. You will feel better not only because you have gained some form of control, but more importantly because you are directly helping break the chain of infection.
Tip 2: Plan your time at home
Nothing makes me restless more than not knowing what to do with my free time. If you are like me, take out a piece of paper and start planning the days ahead. Be as meticulous as you would like to. Knowing what you will do each day may help provide you with a sense of order, which can be calming and beneficial during uncertain times like this. You may also add to your schedule, a list of objectives/ activities/ goals that you would want to accomplish during the MCO. There is no better time to get them done than now when you have all the time in the world.
Tip 3: Avoid information overload
Social media is buzzing with people sharing information about the latest COVID-19 situation, their pain and suffering, their hopes and prayers, their anger and frustration. This is expected because almost everyone has more time on their hands now that we are home-bound. However, it can overwhelm and generate various negative emotions and reactions that we are trying to minimise during this difficult time. So, I suggest you cut down your time on social media where possible and observe how you feel after. Keep only a handful of credible sources of information at your disposal (refer to my list below).
Tip 4: Take care of yourself and your family
Many are grateful that we are given this chance to spend time indoors with our close family members. But what initially seems fun, may turn out to be intolerable especially after having spent so many days together in confined spaces. If you feel that your family members are getting on your nerves, take time out. Spend some time on your own to regain your clarity. Pray or meditate. At the same time, keep an eye on family members who may be feeling the same way. Remember, we are not alone in this. Most likely, what we feel is also felt by others, especially those dear to our hearts.
Also, make sure you and your family members have enough rest, enough nutritional food intake and regular indoor exercises. These will help you feel physically better and will do wonders for your mental well-being too. Just in case you or any of your family members start to feel physically unwell, contact the Virtual Health Advisory. Do not turn up at hospitals /health clinics without doing so first (unless it is an immediately life-threatening condition). If you have further COVID-19 related queries contact the National Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC) 24-hours hotline as seen in the image below.
Tip 5: Engage in meaningful activities
Filling our free time at home during the MCO can be tricky. Even if you’ve planned your time at home (Tip 2), there is still a possibility that you’ve scheduled a bunch of activities that are not meaningful to you. The type of activities that you slot in is as important as planning those time slots in the first place. If you’ve slotted in less than meaningful activities, you may make yourself feel worse as you wonder where have all the time gone at the end of each day. So, create a list of activities that are meaningful to you and use it to populate your schedule. You’ll feel so accomplished at the end of the MCO.
Tip 6: Stay in touch with others
Distancing ourselves right now is tough because it goes against our need for comforting physical contact, which rises when we are facing any crisis. But, it is the right thing to do at this point in time. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t connect with others through other forms of contact. Instead of meeting up with friends over coffee, I suggest you fulfil your need for human interactions by calling/ texting them. That way you could stay in touch, allowing you to talk about the situation, share your thoughts and feelings. We can continue to support each other even if we can’t remain physically close to one another.
Tip 7: Help others in need
So many people need help right now that you’ll be hard-pressed not to find anyone that would benefit from what you have to offer. The MCO had caused disruptions in many people’s lives. Some lose their source of income, while others have difficulty obtaining essential items to continue their daily life. Our healthcare system is also in dire need of help as the pandemic continues to diminish our resources. So, do what you can and help out. Make donations, arrange help, be a listening ear. Indeed, the best way to feel good is to help someone out. And there is no better time than now.
If you are feeling fearful, anxious or low about the COVID-19 situation, please know that you are not alone (even if you are alone in your home because of the MCO). We are all in this together, and we will support one another till the end. The list above is my way of providing support to those who may need it. I hope it is able to restore the sense of hope, order and control that you need in your lives right now. Most importantly I hope the list is practical enough for you to follow and ultimately allow you to stay calm during this challenging and unprecedented time.
Credible sources of information on COVID-19:
- Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia FB Page
- From the Desk of the Director-General of Health Malaysia
- Virtual Health Advisory
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- World Health Organisation
Related articles and resources:
- Gretchen Rubin: Coping with COVID-19 Collection
- Why outbreaks like coronavirus spread exponentially, and how to “flatten the curve” by Harry Stevens