Mental Health During Corona Times


written by Shreya at in category Psychology with 27 Comments


“My anxiety doesn't come from thinking about the future but from wanting to control it.” — Hugh Prather, Notes to Myself

Our brain could be a tricky place for all of us. The whole world has been trying to cope up with the deadly coronavirus. Our corona warriors are fighting every day to keep us all safe. This could be taken as the gloomiest times of our lives.

On darker days, it’s important to have mantras that can bring you up from a spell of anxiety or depression, and these depression and anxiety quotes can do just that. Learning how to deal with anxiety or manage the signs of depression takes daily effort, particularly if outside factors (such as a global pandemic) are exacerbating your anxiety or depression (or both).

The coronavirus can significantly affect mental health for everyone, but especially for those with mental illness. Both the anxiety of contracting the disease as well as the increase in loneliness and isolation can worsen and trigger symptoms. Acknowledging, recognizing, and acting on mental distress in these uncertain times is key to lessening the impact. 

Since the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic, many of us, even those who have not been infected by the virus, will choose to quarantine in our homes for the upcoming weeks. Capsized travel plans, indefinite isolation, panic over scarce resources, and information overload could be a recipe for unchecked anxiety and feelings of isolation.

What Are The Mental Health Implications? 

Working knowledge of different mental health implications can help us understand and address the mental health risks of this global health pandemic. Here are the potential symptoms to watch out for. 
 
Anxiety 
Anxiety-related to the coronavirus is to be expected. A survey of Chinese citizens published in February found that 42.6% of respondents experienced anxiety related to the coronavirus outbreak.
 
A poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the key worries related to the coronavirus pandemic were:

  • You or someone in your family will get sick 
  • Your investments, such as retirement or college savings, will be negatively impacted 
  • You will lose income due to a workplace closure or reduced hours 
  • You will not be able to afford testing or treatment if you need it
  • ​You will put yourself at risk of exposure to the virus because you can’t afford to stay home and miss work

Obsessions 
In a situation like this one, it is easy to become obsessive about disease prevention, especially for those with OCD who already experience contamination obsessions— “unwanted, intrusive worry that one is dirty and in need of washing, cleaning or sterilizing.” 
 
Loneliness
Social distancing is considered critical to slowing the spread of the coronavirus. However, it can understandably lead to loneliness. Numerous studies have shown the adverse mental health and physical impacts of loneliness, including the potential to trigger a depressive episode. 
 
Traumatic Stress 
Individuals who have been quarantined may also experience traumatic stress. A survey of people subject to quarantine during the SARS outbreak in 2003 found that nearly 29% experienced traumatic stress. 

Here are some pointers as though how you can save yourself from mental stress, anxiety, and depression:-

1.) Reframe “I am stuck inside” to “I can finally focus on my home and myself”

As dismal as the world may feel right now, think of the mandated work-from-home policy as an opportunity to refocus your attention from the external to the internal. Doing one productive thing per day can lead to a more positive attitude. Set your sights on long-avoided tasks, reorganize, or create something you’ve always wanted to. Approaching this time with a mindset of feeling trapped or stuck will only stress you out more. This is your chance to slow down and focus on yourself.

2.) Stay close to your normal routine

Try and maintain some semblance of structure from the pre-quarantine days. For those individuals with children, sticking to a routine might be easier; however as you work from home, it could be tempting to fall into a more lethargic lifestyle, which could lead to negative thinking. Wake up and go to bed around the same time, eat meals, shower, adapt your exercise regimen, and get out of your PJ’s. Do laundry on Sundays as usual. Not only will sticking to your normal routine keep you active and less likely to spiral, but it will also be easier to readjust to the outside world when it’s time to get back to work.

3.) Avoid obsessing over endless Coronavirus coverage

Freeing up your day from work or social obligations gives you plenty of time to obsess, and if you have a tendency to consult Google for every itch and sneeze, you may be over-researching the pandemic as well. Choosing only certain credible websites (who.int or mohfw.gov.in is a good start) for a limited amount of time each day (perhaps two chunks of 30 minutes each) will be in your best interest during this time.

4.) A chaotic home can lead to a chaotic mind

With all the uncertainly happening outside your home, keep the inside organized, predictable, and clean. Setting up mental zones for daily activities can be helpful to organize your day. For example, try not to eat in bed or work on the sofa- just as before, eat at the kitchen table and work at your desk. Loosening these boundaries just muddles your routine and can make the day feel very long. Additionally, a cluttered home can cause you to become uneasy and claustrophobic of your environment- so keep it tidy.

5.) Start a new quarantine ritual

With this newfound time, why not do something special during these quarantined days? For example, perhaps you can start a daily journal to jot down thoughts and feelings to reflect on later. Or take a walk every day at 4 pm, connect with your sister over FaceTime every morning, or start a watercolor painting that you can add to every day. Having something special during this time will help you look forward to each new day.

6.) Use telehealth as an option to talk to a professional if your anxiety becomes unmanageable

Letting go of illusions of control and finding peace in the fact that you are doing your part to “flatten the curve” will certainly build mental strength to combat the stressful situation the whole globe is experiencing.

Find Things To Do/Distractions

Activities that distract you from current events can be helpful. Here are a few ideas:

  • Household chores, such as spring cleaning, will give you a sense of purpose and accomplishment when completed. 
  • Free online university courses and courses through Coursera, such as Yale University’s most popular class ever: The Science of Well-Being. They offer a great learning opportunity. 
  • Movies are moving from theaters to online. Netflix is also a good option. 
  • TV programming has expanded during the crisis, particularly through streaming services like Netflix. You can also currently stream the Met Opera for free.
  • ​Virtual parishes, which the Pope and other faith leaders are offering, can help maintain religious connections.

Help Others 

The helper principle shows that helping others is also a benefit to the helper. In hard-hit Europe and other impacted communities, people are helping that self-isolating by shopping or running errands for them. Canada has developed a movement called “caremongering.” 

As it has been said in Bhagwaat Geeta “indriyanam hi caratam, yan mano 'nuvidhiyate,

tad asya harati prajnam, vayur navam ivambhasi”

TRANSLATION

As a boat on the water is swept away by a strong wind, even one of the senses on which the mind focuses can carry away a man's intelligence.

Lord Krishna is saying that it is very important for the men to control his mind and his thoughts, if he fails to do so, then the thoughts shall control the man.  It is necessary for us to keep our consciences in control and to use effective measures to ensure this.

Mutual aid communities are developing across India and online organizers have put together an exhaustive list of resources. There are a few different kinds of organizing. Some focus on “local efforts to build networks that can respond at the neighborhood or community level,” while others “build networks to serve more at-risk groups, like the immunosuppressed or -compromised, incarcerated folks, and workers who will be out of jobs.” This document enables people who need help to ask for it and this one enables people who can provide help to offer it.
 
In these uncertain and unprecedented times, it is natural to experience stress and anxiety. However, an awareness of these stressors better positions us to address them. And there are many tools and coping strategies available to combat the strains on our mental health. 
 
We are creative creatures. We are also social creatures. So, we are finding ways to remain socially connected while physically disconnecting. Perhaps we will also emerge from this crisis with a better appreciation and respect for our fellow humans and citizens. This is our time and we need to fight back.

The helpline number by the government of India to provide consultancy in mental health

Kiran mental health helpline number

1800-599-0019

BE THE CHANGE TO SEE THE CHANGE

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