Maria Elisa Moreira analyzes the new moment of restrictions brought by COVID-19 and gives tips to handle the impacts on the mind
This March, the novel coronavirus pandemic completed a year in a critical moment that sees the increase of cases all over Brazil. With the new travel restrictions designed to curb contagions, it is again vital to pay attention to the signs of mental fatigue sent by our body.
At the onset of the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) published considerations on how to address aspects that affect mental health at this time. There is, among them, the advice to seek only actually helpful information, as watching, reading, or listening to excess news about COVID-19 can increase anxiety. Ideally, we should seek information that will help protect ourselves and the people we love.
To analyze the current moment we live in and give suggestions on how to pay attention to mental health in this context of social isolation, we spoke with Maria Elisa Moreira. She is a professor at the Certificate in Business and People Management graduate program and at Leadership courses at Insper.
Check out some effective practices that can improve our mental health!
Just as the coronavirus can act in different ways on people who become infected, the emotional responses to it can also be very different. They depend on several factors. Physically, some of the most common symptoms of stress are:
– Changes in sleep quality.
– Loss or increase in appetite.
– Gastrointestinal problems.
– Sense of exhaustion.
– Muscle tension and pain.
– Persecutory delusions and a sense of isolation.
The pandemic has changed the personal and professional routine of millions of people. For Prof. Maria Elisa, either because of the work from home routine, which until then was not practiced by most professionals, or due to the fear of losing their jobs, COVID-19 has become a reason for concern inside and outside of corporate environments.
“We have been going through emotional ups and downs that intensify our stress. Stress is essential to our survival, but it is important to interpret how far this feeling goes. It is normal to feel fear, anger, or frustration, especially at a time like this. However, we must focus on the here and now, understanding that social contact, even if virtual, helps to bring calm and serenity,” the Professor analyzes.
For Maria Elisa, there are some ways to help our body fight the impacts of stress on mental health. “Besides being aware of the sensations caused by stress in our health, it is possible to strengthen everyday activities that boost the sense of well-being in our daily lives.”
She cites, among the activities: Practicing physical activities, which have a positive impact on our health and can be performed even at home, using creativity; keeping a healthy diet, prioritizing food balance, with options like vegetables, greens, grains, legumes, lean meats and plenty of water, ensuring a good immune response and body functioning; managing the quality of the sleep, for it is a time when many biological processes take place. “Therefore, it is important to have a regular bedtime and make the experience as relaxing as possible.”
Also, the Professor stresses the importance of not isolating oneself socially — looking for ways to relate at a distance with loved ones — and seeking moments of contact with nature and quiet environments, always valuing safety.
Another aspect that Maria Elisa emphasizes is maintaining motivation. It is something that has become an increasing challenge while the novel coronavirus pandemic besieges us. ”In confinement that initially would have lasted a few weeks but has been going on for a year, we have made some important reflections on the matter. Leaders are getting quite concerned with how to motivate and engage people in virtual work environments. More than that, with how to mobilize people to carry out long-term projects, having the fluctuations of information about health safety protocols and social distancing so much in mind.”
According to the Professor, the pandemic increases the feeling of loss of performance in a way. Researchers followed by Maria Elisa have been pointing to great fatigue on the part of professionals from the most varied segments. It concerns not only the physical tiredness but also the mental. “The human being alone can find strength even in the face of adversity. However, the burden that is being demanded is too heavy,” she points out. For her, the way out seems to be the search for balance, seeking involvement in activities that bring satisfaction and in which it is possible to put energy in a voluntary and valuable way.
Finally, the Professor addressed a subject that destabilizes many people working from home: Organization to perform all tasks. That was already an issue before the pandemic and has become an even more frequent matter in these new times.
“We can say that the minimum of organization can save people. When we find ourselves amid so many tasks to be done, papers to organize, clothes scattered, mixing private and professional life, we are faced with a great challenge. You cannot do everything at the same time. And in that case, organizing means stopping, thinking, and doing, creating harmony between thought and action. However, there is no point in creating an agenda if the activities do not have a scale of priorities.”
Among the main points of attention at this time, Maria Elisa highlights the lack of planning, the personal disorganization, difficulty making decisions, difficulty saying “no,” lack of priorities and difficulty delegating.