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How can you bring out your potential and develop healthy habits during pandemic?

The coronavirus pandemic has robbed us from our routine: stability and coherence that give our life meaning and which are an integral part of our wellbeing. We are in this kind of difficult position for the first time in our modern history. This situation is complicated and it is experienced differently by each one of us. Prof. Dominika Dudek, M.D., psychiatrist, Director of Psychiatry Department of Jagiellonian University, Medical College says that:”The current situation is a moment of awareness of our limits and it will certainly affect mental health of many people. Some may respond to stress through anxiety or depressive symptoms. Tension and insomnia may occur”. Experts claim however, that this difficult period can have a positive effect on people as well. Now it is the time that we can rethink our routine, search for resources, start creating and reinforcing healthy habits. Prof. Dudek adds further that:“It is also worth pointing out that for some people the current situation constitutes a real challenge, it can unleash a new mental power, that you don’t even expect”.

Prof. Bogdan de Barbaro, M.D., psychiatrist, psychotherapist stated:”I believe it is worth for a young person to consider the current situation with reflection: aiming to find one’s answer in regards to the whole complexity of the situation. I wish this answer would not be reduced simply to a feeling of fear or disregard to the threat but there would be a place both for attention to oneself and empathy to others. I wish there could also be a very personal answer to the question of what I in particular can do, so there would be more good and less evil.”

Let’s use this time to activate ourselves to search for different constructive ways to fulfill our lives. There are some useful ‘tools’ to achieve this. It is very important to be aware of what is healthy for us. What you repeat many times, your brain decides it is important. Therefore unhealthy behaviors, negative thoughts, and negative words can also form into a routine. This means that through these repetitions you can create something harmful to your health. Your brain can treat them like something major and necessary. For example if you regularly, everyday say: ”Oh, it’s horrible that I haven’t got something” or” I can’t forget bad things in my life”, later on you can feel very attached to these thoughts and it can create your special liaison with what you express.

Washington Post quotes Joshua Gordon - neuroscientist and psychiatrist, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) “Develop a plan — find your place in the world. It can take time, it can take preparation, but it can help a lot.”
Step by step, make small goals, which are easier to accomplish than a larger project. Make your tasks simple, short and time-bound:

- you will feel like your tasks are easier to accomplish and not as difficult as you thought they were,

- if you stay focused on the task for a short period, you don’t imagine it to be tedious work and therefore not to postpone it and also not to waste energy and time,

- it will help you to set the pressure low. Since you don't expect yourself doing everything at once you can complete your work more carefully and achieve better quality.

Repeat it over and over again - routine is a bridge between strategy and action. Whatever you do, be concentrated on it.

Professor Bogdan de Barbaro quotes from Lauren Oliver, an American writer: ”Even in a world turned upside down, a world of war and insanity, people hang their clothing, they fold their pants, they make their beds. It is the only way to survive”. Routines, repeatability, predictability let us feel safe. Nowadays many of us feel fear, grief, loneliness. Especially now, it is important to start implementing the new healthy habits and to care about the daily routine.

In conclusion, it is worth to consider the important words of Professor de Barbaro: “It’s worth living so that the pandemic doesn’t master our psyche. Let us not underestimate it, but let us not let it to destroy ourselves internally neither.”



Alicja Strycharczyk
psychologist, psychotherapist