27 Apr Mental-Health during Lockdown
The legendary Greek philosopher Aristotle said “Man is by nature a social animal”. So, what happens when you are locked-in for months due to a pandemic that threatens life? What if you are away from your family and friends during this lockdown? What about those already suffering from mental or physical health issues?
Pervasive loneliness is linked to higher mortality rates, and other health problems. The truth is isolation impacts different people in different ways and levels, and is very specific to the situations that they are in. Even amongst us; those suffering from existing psychological conditions are the hardest hit. Those recovering from common psychological conditions such as anxiety, depression and substance abuse are more likely to relapse under these circumstances. In fact, according to many medical experts, panic attacks, anxiety and depression are spiking in people who have never shown any signs of mental distress.
According to many mental healthcare experts, the first few weeks of isolation are the hardest and take the maximum toll on mental health. The routines that people were used to, get disrupted. The daily socializing that happens in workplaces, markets and other public spaces is cut off. Those living alone or away from family and friends are also affected badly. For many, a sense on loneliness creeps up while being away from family and dealing with the monotony of daily life during a lockdown. Those living with their families have lot to thank for except if the relations are strained or abusive.
Even before the lockdown, the psychological impact of the pandemic was palpable among certain sections of populations. It’s hard to imagine the level of stress in people who also have to live in constant worry about loss of livelihood and the looming prospect of hunger for themselves and their families in the coming days. The constant barrage of negative news on social media and television only increased the mental woes of many now living under extreme stress. This puts forth a very important question on how to maintain sanity and well-being during these turbulent times?
Self-Care is Best Care
Lockdown might disrupt our daily lives but it is no reason not to take care of ourselves. Office being closed doesn’t mean you cannot re-structure your day and follow a routine. You might be one of those who hate a routine but the fact is human body loves it because it ensures that the sleep-wake cycle is not disrupted, food is eaten on time and you are taking care of your personal hygiene.
Another big reason for setting a routine is to ensure that we are off news and social media for some time in a day. This is crucial if someone is prone to anxiety and panic. Keeping the mind away from negative news also lets it calm down and gives it coping time to deal with the changes.
Exercise is always your friend
If one is up for mild exercises, it is a great way to ensure good mental health. Exercise improves physical health and releases mood enhancing endorphins that are known to impact mental health positively. Exercise is also a known to boost the immunity system and will help you keep lifestyle disorders at bay. Make sure not to overdo the exercises if you are not used to it. A good suggestion is to start with yoga or stretching exercises for beginners to keep you active.
Online buddy groups for social interactions/ Family Time
Social distancing means physical distancing and not cutting off from social interactions. Talking to friends and family, keeping in touch with them online can help people to socialize. It’s also a good time to catch up with friends and family with whom you have lost touch. Just pick up the phone, dial or WhatsApp that college buddy of yours.
Be Kind to yourself and Stay Positive
These are trying times, and it is easy to feel a range of emotions. It’s okay and it’s better to reconcile your feelings and work on them. What’s important is to stay positive, (even if it means staying away from news and social media!). Understand that the entire world is in this together. Things have changed and they have changed for everyone. So it’s best to look ahead and work on yourself. A great way to get through isolation is picking up a hobby or catching up with missed reads. Netflix and online movie subscriptions have increased during the current times owing to this very reason.
Seek Professional Help!
In spite of our best efforts, some of us might find the entire situation stressful and feel things are getting out of hand. The first way would be to reach out and talk to friends and family. If even that does not work, many organizations and Institutions working on mental health have started offering free online counselling sessions and it is completely okay to discuss mental health issues just like physical illness. Because time and again we have seen that, sometimes what’s neglected might turn out as biggest challenge in our lives!
In short, the best we can do in the current crises is to acknowledge our feelings of stress and anxiety, understand that we are not alone in this. Always seek help if you think it is unmanageable by yourself. Life-styles have changed but making the best use of these changes is entirely upon us.
Anu Lisa Thomas
Assistant Manager- Sashakt program