Striving for balance
and maintaining positive mental health amidst the COVID-19 crisis can be a
daunting task. The uncertainty and stress accompanying the pandemic impacts all
of us and poses a threat to our mental health and well-being. As we seek
certainty where it does not exist, our brain reprograms itself to protect our
body by increasing our attention to risk and threat.
So, I’ve penned
some healthy ways to navigate this uncertainty, anchored with quotes from Dr. Maya
Angelou to help us sail smoothly in our daily lives. Dr. Angelou—a poet,
author, teacher and leader—taught us through her work what it means to live and
lead with your heart in every facet of life. May her words give your days a
hearty dose of beauty and inspiration.
to remember that feeling stressed and overwhelmed is normal during this time. Here
are few tips you can use to relax and rejuvenate.
We Are All
in This Together
Try to remember
that you are not alone in this situation. Break the pattern when your mind
starts to spiral toward negative thoughts and make a firm plan to practice
mindfulness and self-kindness. Try some “mindfulness” apps. (They are free!)
“You may not control all the events that
happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” – Maya Angelou
Focus on the
Present and Take Each Moment at a Time
align your five senses to ground you in the present rather than being absorbed
in your thoughts.
“I’ve learned that whenever I decide
something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.” – Maya
Filter out What
You Can and Cannot Control
Try to get the
most accurate information about the pandemic and the precautions you need to
take from reputable sources. Making peace with what is out of your control can
create mental energy for you to plan more productively for what is within your
power. Categorize your worries and identify whether it is about something you
can or cannot control.
“If you don’t like something, change it.
If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” – Maya Angelou
activities using all your senses and take time to enjoy it. Cultivate feelings
of joy, gratitude and love. For example, maintain a gratitude journal and host
virtual coffee, lunch or dinner “meet-ups.”
“I’ve learned that people will forget
what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how
you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
Find the Right
Balance of Structure and Flexibility
for sleep, exercise, nutrition and basic self care. Pursuing these goals will
give meaning and structure to your days and distract you from fruitless
worrying. Stick to the schedule to help create the sense of “normalcy” for your
mind, body and spirit. Good examples include meditation, praying or joining a
Bob Ross virtual paint night.
“We need much less than we think we
need.” – Maya Angelou
activity is one of the most effective ways to stay mentally healthy and to cope
with worry, sadness and isolation. Try virtual fitness challenges with friends,
dancing and playing games like hopscotch.
“If you’re always trying to be normal,
you will never know how amazing you can be.” – Maya Angelou
Distancing, not Social Distancing
even online, can help us support each other and strengthen our mental health.
Time for those virtual hugs or writing letters! Try virtual trivia nights, group
Netflix screenings and social media graphics challenges.
“You can’t use up creativity. The more
you use, the more you have.” – Maya Angelou
Keep in mind
that even the most unfavorable situations in life may contain the seeds of
something positive. So, liberate yourself from the negativity. Rise up and use
this time to be phenomenal!
“I work very hard, and I play very hard.
I’m grateful for life. And I live it—I believe life loves the liver of it. I
live it.” – Maya Angelou
Jisha T. Panicker, B.D.S., M.P.H.:
Jisha T. Panicker, B.D.S., M.P.H.
Student, Dental Postgraduate Program—Prosthodontics
University of MichiganSchool of Dentistry
Jisha Panicker, B.D.S., M.P.H., was born in India and completed her schooling in the Sultanate of Oman. She graduated in the top 10 of her class with a Bachelor’s of Dental Surgery from Mar Baselios Dental College in India in 2010. Upon graduation, she was selected to serve as faculty
in the Department of Conservative Dentistry & Endodontics at her alma mater. In 2012, she moved to Kansas where she volunteered as a dental assistant in a federally qualified health clinic. She later graduated with a Master’s in Public Health while on a scholarship from Wayne State University School of Medicine in
Michigan in 2016. Dr. Panicker has worked with nonprofit organizations, such as the Henry Ford Health System and the University of Michigan Health System, where she oversaw the process of researching, adapting, implementing and evaluating evidence-based health interventions for use in low-resource settings
alongside vulnerable and marginalized populations. Her research has been presented at state, national and international forums. In her career as a clinician and public health professional, she continues to advocate for oral health and its integration with other disciplines of care. Dr. Panicker is
currently enrolled in the Dental Postgraduate Program in Prosthodontics at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry to learn more about complex oral rehabilitative and implant cases.