Elaine is a final-year student at a local university in Kuala Lumpur. Like all other year groups, she had to adjust to an online learning experience. She finds it difficult to learn in a virtual format, particularly due to the lack of interaction with her peers. Consequently, she is struggling to keep up with her grades and is on the verge of failing out of university. Her main pillar of support – her family members are residing 350km up north in Penang while she lives alone in a small rented apartment in Kuala Lumpur. Recently, she lost her close grandfather due to COVID-19 and was unable to travel back to attend his funeral. Having so many uncertainties in her life, she lost the motivation to carry on with her daily activities. She is too afraid to reach out to her family and friends as she fears they will think of her as “mentally unstable” and frown upon her. Right now, all she needs is to be in the comfort of her own home in Penang but at the same time, she is worried about the risks of bringing the virus to them. She can only hope that with time, things will get better.
This is Elaine’s story and she is one of the many people out there who are struggling with mental health issues. Annually on the 10th of October, the World Mental Health Day is observed for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. Without a doubt, each and every one of us is still figuring out how to navigate through the uncertainties caused by the pandemic that have impacted us tremendously in major aspects of our lives. Our mental health isn’t similar to Squid Game where we compete once a year in a battle royale in which whoever has the best mental health wins $46 billion. The younger generation in Malaysia, especially those among the ages of 18-25, has had it the worst, with reports of increasing levels of depressive and anxiety levels since the outbreak in March 2020. These are the next generation that will shape the future of the world we live in!
Therefore, it is only right that we look after our own mental health as well as the people around us, more so with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While it is with relief that restrictions have started to ease in Malaysia as dine-ins and extended social activities are allowed, for many, the readjustment of lifestyles may be as hard as going into lockdown from the start. For the majority of us, it will take time for us to find our way back to life, just as how it took us time to find ways to cope during the lockdown.
Our co-founders at Ribbon have put together four great tips (which we use ourselves) that could help you elevate your mood, become more resilient and enjoy life more.
Prioritise Self-care by Switching Off, Reset, and Relax
When you make it a point to take some time off every day, to switch off, reset, and relax – you’re caring for yourself and putting yourself first, even for that little moment. This helps a lot with being in a good mental state of mind. Self-care is what you make it and spending some time every day just for yourself should be prioritised. Whether it is taking a hot bath with your favourite soap bar, lighting up your favourite scented candle while having a good read, or preparing yourself for a good night’s sleep, we fully encourage you to make space for self-love on a daily or weekly basis. Also, reach out to someone you know who might need a reminder of self-care and show them some TLC through meaningful care package gifts.
Health is wealth in this time of the pandemic, and maintaining good physical health definitely keeps one’s mental health in check. Stay healthy with a balanced diet, drink lots of water and take Vitamin C regularly for that immunity boost. It is also important to maintain physical health by doing your favourite exercises and making a point to sweat it out at least three times a week.
At times of stress, it is important to have a good support system and people you can reach out to for help. Try to keep in touch with your friends and family through a call or text. If things get difficult, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.
It is also worthwhile to check on others’ well-being, as everyone is going through something in life and we all need a little love and care towards one another. You could also show your care by sending small gifts and handwritten notes to your loved ones, to show that they are on your mind and that they can count on you no matter what.
Be With Nature
When life gets a bit tough and worries build up, one of the few things that improves mental health is being with nature. Being close to nature can simply be going outside to a park, growing a plant, or seeing and hearing nature from a window. Nature can’t solve all of our problems but it can really put things into perspective, take the pressure off, and bring calm and wonder to our daily lives. So take a moment every day to connect with nature, notice its beauty and how it makes you feel.
To celebrate World Mental Health Day, we encourage you to make a habit of prioritising yourself and your own time bit by bit every day, starting with these four mental health tips. At the same time, reach out to someone today who may be having a hard time through a call or text, or send a care package through Ribbon’s gift concierge to show your love and care.