Stay positive? Stay negative?

In one of our safety engagement meetings this week, one of my colleagues had a closing remark as “stay (covid) negative, but stay positive (mentally)”.

I thought his remark was on-point.

In a lot of our safety engagements, we keep reminding each other to keep the SOPs tight, to be vigilant and to protect each other from the infection. However, we rarely talk about the other part of the equation – staying positive mentally – and I want to address that here.

I understand the long-drawn pandemic can expose us to fatigue or burnout. It is not a sign of weakness but instead, it is a sign of strength that we recognize and give ourselves permission to acknowledge it.

Over the past month, in between responding to emergency calls, I carved out my time to do these to stay grounded and sane. [Caution: this may or may not work for you – the intent is to trigger interest or ideas for you to explore what works.]

1. Routine: I know I don’t have the luxury of time but it does not mean that it is impossible. Simple things like a set prayer time and breakfast during my “golden hour” were non-negotiables for me.

2. Exercise: Fitness routine never fails to energize me. I alternate between a 15-min quick yoga, pilates, qigong or mobility exercise in the morning and 20-min walk on the treadmill after dinner while listening to podcast. Works wonders every time – especially it ticks 2 boxes at once – keeping fit and learning at the same time!

3. Reset: After a day of go-go-go, reset is super critical for me to slow down. It depends on my mood for the day; between meditation, breathing exercise, listening to instrumental songs, prayer, vagus nerve exercise, qigong- any of these work.

4. Fun time: This is the most random, but that is the point! It can range from watching Douglas Lim’s parody to ordering ice-cream from Grab. 🙂

5. Connection: The most important of all, is to invest time to connect with families, friends and colleagues. Even at the moment of stress, I believe that we all benefit from a compassionate act – be it as a receiver or a giver.

Of course, if you need professional help, do not hesitate to reach out to therapist / counsellor. The key is to acknowledge and prioritize our mental health during this challenging phase.

Stay positive (mentally)!