Surviving COVID-19 and managing your mental health

Ammesha Brown
Ammesha Brown

April 6, 2020

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The COVID-19 virus has, for want of a better term, put Jamaica on lockdown.

Jamaicans are now experiencing self- or government-imposed quarantining and isolation, social distancing, the closure of certain establishments and the restriction of opening hours on others, a partial overseas travel ban, and now, an islandwide curfew. All of these and other measures have been implemented to help us flatten the curve, or decrease the rate of infections in the population. Needless to say, we live in troubled and stressful times.

However, all hope is not lost, for this, too, shall pass. The question that we must ask ourselves is, once this passes, what will remain in its wake? Will it be positive or negative? The answers to these questions will depend on a lot of factors, many of which are not in our control. However, what remains firmly in our control is our response to whatever comes.


Here is my top-ten list for taking control – being mindful while, at the same time, setting yourself up for future success post-COVID-19.

1. Prayer and meditation. Whether you are a believer or not, prayer or mediation helps you to stay grounded in the midst of chaos. During this time, your focus should be on gratitude and being thankful for who and what you have in your life. Believe me, it will change the way you view the world. Meditation also provides us with many health benefits. It certainly calms the mind and provides us with clarity of thought and purpose during difficult times.

2. Implement a structure or new routine. This virus has totally changed how we operate daily. I know it’s overwhelming, and some of us are still trying to figure out and navigate the challenges. It is better to develop a routine and stick to it. Follow a structure that will guide your daily activities.

3. Manage your daily intake of news. You don’t need to cut off watching or listening to the news completely, but if you want to survive this time, you have to manage how often you read, watch, or listen to the news. My suggestion is to limit your daily intake by allocating time in either the morning, afternoon, or evening for checking the news. Detoxing will put you in a better mood as you won’t be constantly bombarded with the doom and gloom. Set a routine of no phone, TV, or radio for at least half an hour before you go to bed.

4. Get dressed up to work from home or to do other activities. The way you look and feel will impact your productivity. This is a fact. Get up and dress up. If you find yourself lounging around feeling overly bored and out of it, taking a shower and dressing up for an activity can change your mood. If you are working from home, you should still dress for work. Set the mood by ensuring that you are dressed for the part. It’s basic, and it’s not vanity. If you look good, you feel good, and if you feel good, you will perform well.’

5. Watch movies or funny videos. I strongly recommend that you watch funny movies or funny videos online during this time. You want to ensure that you have something to smile about or something that will lighten your mood.

6. Play games. If you live with others, make some time to play games. Good ones to play with your family during this time are Jenga, Monopoly, and dominoes. If you don’t have physical games, you can google some that you don’t need materials to play or some that are online. You can even include friends and other family members virtually. There are plenty of games that you can play online. Recently, Jamaican Twitter hosted a series of online games. Who would have thought? But at that moment, so many persons weren’t thinking about the virus and its negative impact. That was genius. You can do the same at home.

7. Find a new hobby or skill. Now is a good time to identify something you’ve always wanted to learn or do. For me, that is becoming a wine connoisseur. I have been collecting wines for some time now. Since COVID-19 and the restrictions on going out, I have been doing more research on types of wine. I fell into this hobby of collecting wine because I was getting married and decided that I needed to come up with creative ways of paying for the liquor bar.

8. Garden or create a backyard garden. Scientific research has suggested that interacting with flora can improve your mood and mental health. I’m a testimony to this. Gardening is a well-needed distraction for me. Nature does impact your health and wellness. Incorporating more gardening during this crisis will help you get over your anxiousness and stress from this pandemic. My husband and I are currently creating a vegetable garden in the back of our home. I am learning as we go along. The responsibility of watering and monitoring these plants is a great relaxing activity. Watching the seeds grow is even more exciting.

9. Exercise and keep your body active. I’d suggest you do as much of this as possible, whether you workout inside or go outside. Cardiovascular fitness is especially important at this time, given that COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. We have no excuse not to be exercising at this time.

10. Read a book. Reading opens the mind to endless possibilities. This is the time to expand our minds. Life will not be the same after coronavirus.

Not all of the above-named activities will be for everyone, and that is okay. The point is to do something or a few things that allow you to take control, become mindful, and set yourself up for future success post-COVID-19. What will be your list?

I am sharing this article as part of my own journey through this process and hope that it will be of some assistance to my fellow Jamaicans as we battle COVID-19 together. We are all in this together!

Ammesha Brown


Ammesha Brown

Ammesha Brown is a marketing strategist.

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