What to do when you’re feeling down

Comic Sam (A man in a traditional Malay outfit) is talking to Kieran The Millenial Karen (a lady in a pink sleeveless top and green skirt). He Says "My stress is affecting my motivation and my lack of motivation gives me stress". Kieran responds by saying 'Bruh'.

COVID-19 has finally invaded my body. And while my immune system diligently responds and attacks the viral virus, this recovery process has definitely drained me, leaving me quite drab and feeling down. It doesn’t help that I’m stuck indoors, is sniffly, and can’t pet my neighbour’s cat that’s outside my door right now for fear of passing on the spike protein ball to the furball.

And I’m pretty sure many of you have been in my situation. At some point or another, we’ve all felt drained, drab, or just plain blah. And as the pesky pandemic marches on, we might be more prone to falling into these funks as we try to cope with a new normal.

So, what can you do when you’re feeling the blues? Here’s what I’ve learnt from my week-long isolation so far:

1. Embrace the blues

First and foremost, don’t beat yourself up if you’re feeling blue. Slumps happen once in a while and they can affect anyone. Most people feel down for a couple of days before they can feel up again. The good news is that if you give yourself time and permission to feel what you’re feeling or better yet, if you can name the emotion, it can help you start to move past it pretty quickly. So go ahead and feel sad, frustrated, or just plain weird. Doing so doesn’t mean that you’re weak, it means that you’re human and you’re acknowledging yourself. It’ll also pass, I promise.

2. Parent your phone

We’re constantly bombarded with news and 24/7 access to social media via our smartphones. Constantly checking the news, which are usually bad stuff, and what our friends are up to, which are usually good stuff, can warp our perception of life, thus perpetuating anxiety, outrage and make us feel blasé even more. Don’t let your phone further set your emotional equilibrium. Thus, you should limit media consumption to no more than twice a day, for 15 to 30 minutes. This is helpful even when you’re not feeling the blues.

3. Focus on the future

This is a technique I routinely use as my anti-blues vaccination. When I’m down, I search for something to put on my calendar that makes me happy and excited. You get an emotional lift when you contemplate a fun future event, versus looking back on a fabulous time from the past. Go ahead and plan a dinner party, book a trip, or buy that concert ticket — whatever brings a flush to your cheeks or a rumble of joy to your belly. Yes, anticipating yummy food helps too.

Don’t forget: Everyone has times when they feel down. Taking the steps above can help reduce your apathy and should help you start to feel better again. If you’re not experiencing any little joys or breakthrough moments of happiness, it might be time to reach out for support. A mental health expert can help you work through and manage your feelings too.

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