5 ways to manage your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

In order to navigate through this new “normal,” it is imperative to focus on your mental wellbeing. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 01 April 2020

5 ways to manage your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Dr. Saliha Afridi, a clinical psychologist, shares five ways to manage and maintain mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

DHAHRAN: With the rapid spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) worldwide, a barrage of distressing news and statistics, as well as unprecedented challenges at home and in the workplace, it is only natural to feel overwhelmed, anxious and stressed.

Dr. Saliha Afridi, a clinical psychologist and managing director of The LightHouse Arabia, a Dubai-based community mental health and wellness clinic, explained that “in such unprecedented, unpredictable, and uncertain times, it is completely normal to feel these emotions.” In order to navigate through this new “normal,” it is imperative to focus on your mental wellbeing. 

Afridi shared five ways to manage and maintain mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Establish a routine




Establish a routine that incorporates your physical, spiritual and emotional-mental wellbeing. (Shutterstock) 

“Routines anchor us and provide a rhythm to life,” she said. Based on priorities, Afridi advises that individuals establish a routine that incorporates their physical, spiritual and emotional-mental wellbeing.

Focus on what you can control




“Physical action (control) will give mental control, overpowering fear,” said Afridi. (Shutterstock)

Instead of focusing on what you cannot do, Afridi suggests shifting your energy and focusing on what you can do. One can exercise, practice healthy eating habits and maintain recommended hygiene like washing your hands. “We fear things that we cannot control. Physical action (control) will give mental control, overpowering fear,” she explained. Another approach to lessening anxiety over the situation is to take it one day at a time. 

Use positive language




Afridi suggested using positive language to express or frame your experience. (Shutterstock)

Afridi opined that the terms “social isolation and distancing” were relevant to a time before global connectivity. “Although a physical connection may be missing, we are connected — more than ever — to our family, friends, colleagues and teams.” She suggested using positive language to express or frame your experience. Instead of saying “I am scared of catching the virus,” an example of empowered language that overcomes negativity would be: “I am staying indoors and building immunity.”

Limit your news intake




Feed your brain by focusing on productive actions or learning something new. (Shutterstock)

Afridi likened human behavior of stockpiling food and supplies to that of stockpiling information. “The mind is trying to get a grip of what is happening. We believe the more information we have, the more we can assess or control the situation,” she said. “But this only feeds the beast — anxiety.” She recommended choosing one news organization and one health organization as sources of information and limiting your news intake to once a day, preferably mid-day. Instead, feed your brain by focusing on productive actions or learning something new. 

Repurpose your space




Afridi suggested repurposing your space from stark and cluttered to clean and soothing. (Shutterstock)

Even if you are confined to one bedroom, make it work for you. Afridi suggested repurposing your space from stark and cluttered to clean and soothing. Engage your five senses, for example, light candles or incense to create a pleasant environment. “If there is chaos and clutter on the outside, there will be chaos on the inside,” she explained.


Celebrity-loved brand By Far finds success in region amid pandemic

Updated 13 July 2020

Celebrity-loved brand By Far finds success in region amid pandemic

  • Bulgaria-based accessories label By Far has managed to remain unscathed from the ongoing pandemic
  • The accessories label has seen a surge in sales in the Middle East amid the health crisis

DUBAI: To say that the fashion industry has been negatively impacted by the coronavirus disease would be an understatement. But one brand that has managed to remain unscathed from the ongoing pandemic is Bulgaria-based accessories label By Far.

The A-list beloved brand, founded by twin sisters Sabina Gyosheva and Valentina Bezuhanova, alongside their best friend Denitsa Bumbarova in 2016, notes that it has actually seen a dramatic increase in sales in the Middle East during the crisis, exceeding pre-pandemic figures — in spite of all of the regulations put in place to slow the spread of the disease.

“Middle Eastern countries took harsh measures to control the outbreak, but it didn’t seem to weaken discretionary spending,” said the brand to Arab News, citing a massive rise in sales during April and May — the peak of the pandemic.

By Far was founded in 2016 by twin sisters Sabina Gyosheva and Valentina Bezuhanova, alongside their best friend Denitsa Bumbarova. Supplied

The brand credits the Muslim holidays of Ramadan and Eid for contributing to sales, revealing that the label’s “Tanya” shoes, as well as its “Mini” and “Miranda” bags, proved to be the best-sellers among their Arab clientele.

According to By Far, they witnessed a 400 percent increase in sales coming from the UAE and a whopping 800 percent increase in sales in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The figures are impressive, considering that retail sales plummeted worldwide, leading to closures of many fashion brands who failed to meet their targets.

The globally-recognized brand has been picked up by influential retailers like Ounass, Net-a-Porter, MyTheresa and Moda Operandi. Supplied

The reason for the success, its founders believe, is that the brand has never relied on physical spaces. Buying activity has largely moved online due to retail spaces closing, and By Far has always been a digital brand with a massive online community.

The globally-recognized brand is sold in influential retailers like Ounass, Net-a-Porter, MyTheresa and Moda Operandi in addition to its own e-commerce platform. Additionally, its Instagram account boasts a following of 371,000 users.

“In times like these, when we needed to support each other and stay connected more than ever, we really relied on our digital skills,”By Far told Arab News. “The situation definitely gave us a new perspective and we had the time to re-evaluate and re-structure some of our processes so that we can improve for the future.”

The Bulgaria-based accessories brand is extremely affordable and sustainable. Supplied

By Far even showcased its most recent Cruise 2020/2021 collection of shoes and bags via a virtual showroom. “We strongly believe that digital is a huge part of the future of fashion, and it is something that we will surely continue to develop,” the brand revealed.

At a time when sustainability and financial restraints are at the forefront of people’s minds, it also helps that By Far is extremely affordable and sustainable as far as luxury fashion goes. Every pair of shoes is priced between $200 and $600, and is created out of dead-stock fabrics (which helps keep the prices low) gathered from Italian factories.

“Sustainability has always been one of our top priorities in By Far. It has never been a question of whether we should do it or not. We have always tried to integrate sustainable practices as much as possible,” it said.

The brand has found fans in everyone from Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid to Beyonce and Selena Gomez. Supplied

The new collection includes playful pieces with colors custom-made in Tuscany. “We really had a very precise idea of what we want —cool lagoon blues, pomodoro red, grass green in combination with latte, khaki and matcha green hues to evoke calmness and a lightness of touch,” they explained. “We wanted to bring the collective spirit of optimism, joy and liberation with a euphoric palette.”

Chances are, you’ve already seen the chic new pieces on your favorite blogger or celebrity on Instagram. The brand’s designs have been sported by everyone from model Gigi Hadid to superstar Beyonce. As for who they would love to see wearing their creations next? “It would be a dream to see Queen Rania  (of Jordan) in By Far,” said the trio.

Perhaps she is one of the “fabulous Arab women” who inspired the brand’s forthcoming new collection, which is being specifically designed for this region.