Switch on the television and the only word you hear is “COVID-19”. It has caused more than 11,000 deaths globally and has left people struggling for breath, literally, because this virus first impacts the respiratory system. It has maimed the economy, damaged the social order and dilapidated major corporations and businesses.
The most devastating impact it has had is on the supply chain. Due to this, the world is panicking, people are hoarding, and the world leaders are stressed out. After it first appeared in Wuhan in December 2019, the World Health Organisation finally declared the virus a pandemic in March 2020. Now, as the world tries to maintain control the spread by effecting Work From Home policies and lockdowns everywhere, the other concern that has cropped up is mental health care at this time.
Another side effect, that is making its presence felt gradually, is mental health due to the psychological distress caused by the pandemic. Considering how teched-out we are, our social lives have taken a hit as it is, but this pandemic has shrunk our social life to such negligible levels that people are suddenly losing their minds over lost human connection.
Last week, a woman who is in quarantine in the US, told how she is dealing with all this, alone. It has forced her to stay alone for more than 3 weeks. Her only companion is her ageing dog. Her neighbours cannot be approached for fear of spreading the virus. Such cases show us, that we should not trivialise the adverse effects such situations have on our mental health.
Mental health impacts of an outbreak can vary from person to person. In most cases, dealing with uncertainty causes anxiety in human beings. Anxiety and extreme panic can aggravate depression. As per the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health’s search database, there are more than 350 million depression patients, globally. Uncontrollable situations like pandemics can worsen the symptoms of depression and gloom. Pandemics/epidemics are also known to exponentially rise cases of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders. The emergency may trigger those trying to recoup from several types of OCDs like frequent handwashing, hoarding or staying overly isolated. Here are some great tips to take care of your mental health during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Those who have suffered from illnesses before or are taking care of elderly/kids are more likely to panic in such cases. Also, the fear of losing out on income, restriction on social interaction and travelling contributes to the distress. It is important to keep a positive outlook and believe that this too shall pass. The government and medical teams are working relentlessly towards minimising the impact and combatting the outbreak. To trust united global efforts and keep a positive perspective can provide great relief.
Choosing authentic and trusted news sources to get relevant information is very important during the time of global distress. While knowledge is power, too much of reinforced messaging can cause added stress. It is best to bank onto government or reputable news sources, for a limited time in the day, to stay updated and take the necessary precautionary measures.
A pandemic can cause immense insecurity for self and loved ones. Stress-busting activities like cooking, cleaning, yoga or art can help to a great extent. Spending time in nature can be therapeutic as well. Practising calming activities with kids and the elderly can create a general happy vibe too!
Staying indoors is the need of the hour but may cause harm to those struggling with mental disorders. The quarantine can cause loneliness, cognitive decline and depression. Pursuing hobbies and staying productively occupied can help avoid engaging in stressful thought patterns helps beyond measure.
Social distancing, especially from loved ones can cause anxiety and lower one’s morale. This is the best time to build stronger digital bonds, get the hang of new technology and connect with loved ones virtually. Staying connected with your loved ones and discussing how you feel helps clear negative emotions to a great extent.
Asking for help when you don’t feel well mentally, emotionally or physically is essential during times like these. There are various support groups, actively working towards the cause of community wellbeing during the pandemic. Ensure you have the contact list from relevant sources and don’t hesitate before asking for help if you need support in any way.
Work From Home is not a perk for everyone. It can get really stressful when the travel time is subtracted and one fails to consciously make separations between the work time and home time. The overlap can cause unwanted stress and fatigue. Also, your home mates may just misunderstand Work From Home to Work For Home! Mindfully compartmentalising your tasks during this phase will surely make a positive impact on your mental health.
As a commoner, one thought— Oh, these are world affairs and they don’t bother me. But now, the tables have turned. Every man, woman and child are feeling his/her life being turned upside down. Working individuals have been asked to work from home by their bosses, companies have shut down premises, children have no school or even friends to play with. A news article has even shown that staying at home for weeks together, has caused divorces, family wrecking in China.
This is a time for all societies, nations and cultures to come together as one. Using technology and safe distancing techniques, we can all be there for each other. Just a kind word to someone struggling can bring a ray of hope, if not complete sunshine. Having empathy towards the less fortunate ones can help them deal with crisis better. Discrimination will take us nowhere. Gandhiji’s wise words resonate often,
If everyone took an eye for an eye, the world will be blind.
Only kindness, patience and understanding will take us to a better tomorrow. Stay safe, wash your hands often and maintain a safe distance from all!