There have been many headlines written about COVID-19 causing a mental health crisis. However, accessing resources can be a challenge. Therapy and the vaccine for this pandemic can be very expensive. In India, for example, therapy in urban cities starts at ₹1,500 an hour ($20 USD) while the average person has an annual income of ₹1,35,000 (nearly $1,900 USD).
So researchers from the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have come together to create a toolkit for those going through pandemic stress.
The toolkit is built around four pillars which they found to have helped people. These are
These might sound like arbitrary buzzwords, but think of the application with an example. Awareness or meta awareness in particular here, means that you are aware of your thoughts, their flow, and how you are thinking about things. The study showed that this skill can be picked up through mental training practices like meditation, and reduces stress and increases positive emotions. This focus on our feelings also stops us from getting casually distracted, which can increase mental stress.
The insight trait doesn’t refer to questioning anything everyone says, but rather questioning your own thoughts and biases.
Another important trait is purpose in life, which doesn’t refer to a grand plan of achievements throughout your lifetime, but daily tasks which make everyday meaningful. For the purpose of mental health (pun intended), it is related to exercise and creating positive physical health outcomes.
Additionally, the insight trait doesn’t refer to questioning anything everyone says, but rather questioning your own thoughts and biases. It can help you understand your reaction to stimuli better, and help in correcting behaviours which you couldn’t before.
Lastly, it’s about connection, which is trying to build an understanding of where people in our lives are coming from, and using that context to be able to react to them with compassion and kindness. Basketball star Kevin Love, who has spoken openly about his mental health struggles, once said, “Everyone is going through something,” and it can be a good thing to remember when you’re upset with friends and family.