A trainer and human resources expert offered pointers on how to sustain mental health during a major crisis like the current Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns.
Norazmi Ibrahim, with 15 years working experience in several large MNCs, was speaking to some 50 people at an online talk on “Managing Storms in Life: How to Keep your Mental Health in Check”. The event today was organised by WOU’s Student Engagement Unit.
He said that working from home, separation from family, loss of job/business and domestic violence can lead to stress, anxiety and depression.
He listed 10 ways to protect mental health – review and change our lifestyle; develop positive mindset; develop empathy; develop an attitude of gratitude; be resilient; continuous learning; exercise regularly; develop new hobbies; tighten our financial equity; and get enough sleep.
Norazmi said as people adapt to a new lifestyle of online learning and working from home, they need to use technology, such as Zoom, video calls or messaging, to stay engaged and connected with family or team members.
He also urged to develop a positive mindset, by filtering what news and social media accounts we follow in order to avoid negativity or fake news that aggravates our stress and anxiety. He highlighted that new learning and challenges are actually opportunities for growth.
Next, he said to ‘develop empathy’ when engaging with friends and contacts so as to understand their struggles. Practical steps include providing a listening ear and financial assistance.
Norazmi told participants to develop an attitude of gratitude by being optimistic and thankful since many others are worse off. He continued, “We need to be resilient. It is about our mindset, our mental toughness, during hard times. Be creative, innovative, plan and strive for improvement through trial and error without giving up.”
He spoke on continuous learning during the lockdown to upgrade our knowledge, skills and qualifications through online courses and e-books. “Never stop learning. Learn so that you can earn money. The more knowledge you gain, it will give more value to yourself.”
His other tips for improving mental health were exercise regularly, develop new hobbies, tighten our financial equity and get enough sleep.
“Develop new hobbies to challenge your mind for better mental health. Monitor cash flow closely, identify your needs and wants, and have at least 6 months savings or emergency fund,” he said, adding, “It is not how much money you can earn but how much money you can keep to yourself.” He encouraged participants to get between 6 and 8 hours of sleep a day to help reduce anxiety.
He concluded, “Take care of your eyes. Do not scroll through bad news especially early in the morning as this can spoil your entire day. Control your ears. Do not take in negative vibes or office politics. For pleasing smell, put fragrances in your room to make you feel comfortable.”