5 essential ways to jaga our mental health during M’sia’s RMO

Honestly, this has been quite an unprecedented time for us all, and personally, it has been quite challenging for me as I rely heavily on my very predictable ‘everyday’ routine.

In the past one week of being cooped inside, I have very ashamedly binged all four seasons of ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ in one-go in order to distract myself and I’ve had a mini-meltdown due to being lonely. Also, I probably makan too many unnecessary snacks (more than I typically do).

“Hmm, I feel kinda lonely right now. Guess I should eat another Gardenia muffin to distract me from the void I am now feeling?!” my mind rationalised.

That being said, this Restricted Movement Order (RMO) has also presented me with a new challenge to evaluate how I intentionally take care of myself in unpredictable phases, now that I am unable to rely on the safety net of my routine. So, here are 5 essential ways that I used to safeguard my mental health this past week:

1. Choose when and how much news you receive

Limit/schedule the time you spend reading the news or scrolling through your feed (which is mainly just Covid19 reactions anyways) to just a few times in a day. Ataupun, just take a break/completely stop from pursuing the rabbit hole of the Covid19news, if it does overwhelm you or make you anxious all the time.

I have completely halved my social media time (this time was obvs repurposed to me shamelessly binging Netflix too much) in the past one week. Whilst I feel a tug of need, to be informed of what’s happening around me, I also recognize that if I keep scrolling and reading, I am only ending up in one of many permutations of anxiety, anger or helplessness.

2. Adapting your routine instead of dropping it

If a routine is key to you, then this is crucial. Due to my rigidity, if any small part of my routine is thrown off, I used to consider my day to be imperfect or ruined – when in fact, I should just be able to be kinder to myself and be flexible to adapt it. It is not such a big deal if I don’t want it to be.

Eg. One of my main morning highlights was the process of getting ready to work and knowing I will see my friends soon. I have since adapted this to still putting an effort to Work from Home – instead of wearing pyjamas or baju rumah as I initially did, I now purposely change into more formal looking shirts and pants during my work hours, even if no one sees it. I even wore my fav bra today (AT HOME, GUYS) just to get that extra sapot.

3. Cultivate your community, more intentionally

I know this has become cliche at this point, but honestly, this is an essential tip, apatah lagi if you are leaving alone or with distant housemates. Everyone needs at least a minimal fill of their social quota, and at this time, when social isolation cannot be helped, there is more necessity on your part to make the move to connect (virtually) and check-in with your friends/family.

For me, this had been difficult to implement. As a full-blown introvert and self-confessed homebody (I come in second only to my housecat, Ram), I am very much comfortable to stay indoors and converse exclusively with my live-in partner and Ram. But by the end of the week, I realise having that conversational pressure purely on my partner was quite unfair to him, so I went against my usual nature and ensured I checked in intentionally with the different groups in my community.

4. Stimulate your mind by learning/refining a skill

This is honestly my most fav tip – whilst you can’t experience the novelty of having a new day outside, new IRL conversations with your pals, etc, you can still experience the novelty of learning something new or refining an existing skill.

Due to this extra amount of time, I was finally able to finish up on my creative online courses, read a new book, and even complete this blogsite! (I had been researching how to set up my own website for almost a year now, and look, here you are now!). It also warms me to see my community members having time for their interests such as baking, drawing, gardening, writing, and of course, making #DalgonaCoffee.

5. Get physical, be it through exercise or a rigorous clean sesh.

I really respect the amount of people posting their home workout or home yoga time-lapses on Instastory. If you are as lazy as me, and I mean, as lazy as my cat Ram who only habitually wakes up when he suddenly ingat that he is hungry, then you too probably find the whole prospect of a full home workout to be intimidating or you might not know how to start.

In which case, I highly recommend you do check out fun online resources on this just to get started (which is the hardest part) – dance along to a Zumba video, check out online Pilates exercises or like me, you can follow along yoga videos (my yoga queen is Yoga w/ Adrienne – I say this while my Indian ancestors gasp from the eternal abode at the idea of me learning yoga from a white lady). Oh, also try a deep clean of your room/home – it gets pretty rigorous for me!

Haha kena tipu! Just like a cikgu before an exam, I actually got bonus tips:

  • Don’t overcompensate – While working from home, you might perceive yourself to be less productive and therefore take on even more work and responsibilities, which then just admits you into Burnout Burrow. Set aside times throughout the day for your very own waktu rehat!
  • Watch what you consume (food and media) – I mentioned this earlier but it does warrant a repetition. Since finishing my ungodly Kimmy Schmidt marathon, I have stayed disciplined and not started any new shows that I know will keep me hooked long term as a couch potato. I also have intentionally restricted my snack intake to one per day, instead of (redacted) amounts per day.
  • Read this extra resource by WHO – The World Health Organisation created this useful brochure on how you can manage your mental health, be it as a healthcare worker, team leader/ manager at a health facility, and as a care-provider to children/adults with existing conditions/older people.

Thanks for reading kawan-kawan! Take care and remember to keep social distancing!

I really enjoyed writing this debut post. If you liked it, do show your support by commenting and/or sharing it!

1 Comment

  1. Arief

    Thanks for the write-up.

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