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Everyone reacts differently in dealing with stressful situations. Every individual is unique and they have their own coping strategies to challenge this situation. This pandemic may induce stress that takes a toll on one's physical health and mental health. An individual's tolerance to stress is based on the person's internal flight-fight-freeze response.

Stress during the COVID-19 outbreak can make people worry about the health of self and their loved ones. A person may have a change of routine that can affect their eating and sleeping patterns. Family with kids during the lockdown have higher worries about providing protection and safety for their kids. People who do not have the opportunity to work from home and people who are unemployed due to this outbreak worries about financial sustenance to protect their family. Entrepreneurs owning small scale business worry about the future of their company and the impact of their business after the outbreak.

The stress may make people take decisions that affect them and people around them. There are possibilities that some people may cope with the situation by consuming alcohol and drugs that could potentially lead to overuse. When the pandemic ends, the economy might be running but majority of people might be experiencing heightened anxiety and depression that can disrupt their everyday life.

I want to primarily focus on developing positive coping strategies that may enhance an individual's well-being during the lockdown. The important thing to remember is to do what you love and how that activity uplifts your overall well-being. Overall well-being can be carried to serve one's physical health, mental health and spiritual health. I find a combination of all three can lead to happiness in the long run.

Strategies that can be helpful:

• Instead of being on social media all day long, make time to talk to people you love. Have conversations that gives a smile on your face. For couples, this is the best time to get to know each other. Know your partner better. You may have enjoyed doing a activity together in the past, try revoking those memories and start doing them again. For family having kids, have conversation with them about this situation and educate them on the current scenario. Teach the kids about emotions to boost their emotional intelligence.

• Update yourself with current information about the pandemic. Watch the right news to know about the situation in the city you are living in. Update can also include collecting and sharing information about the availability of the basic necessities.

• This time is the best time to develop resilience. There are multiple worksheets available on the internet that provides you with resources that helps you engage in resilient activities. This pandemic is an obstacle, so challenge yourself to think in a positive way.

• Do any activity that you enjoy doing. It doesn't matter what it is. Make a time for yourself and just engage in them.

• Make time for yourself. Have a well-being check too see how you are doing. May be while doing that you could enjoy a nice cup of tea or coffee or anything of your choice.

• If you are a person who is a task taker and always looking to upgrade your skills, try doing one of those free online courses or you can download apps on your phone and learn a new language altogether.

Some days you just want to sit and watch TV, do that because this pandemic can be stressful and you want to find any way in just coping with them positively. Watch your favourite TV shows or movies. Finally, just remember that you are not alone, the whole world is with you. Always look out for yourself and your loved ones. Stay home and help the world fight COVID-19

#StayHome #StaySafe #MentalHealthMatters

Written by Veena Vibhushini Varun Prasath (Child & Adolescent Psychologist, Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency, Colombo, Western, Sri Lanka)

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