Our brain and the thoughts we have are not always in our control, especially in uncertain times such as these. These thoughts may linger on and interfere with our daily lives even if we take the steps to ward them off.
To provide you with the peace of mind you have been looking for, we want to answer some very frequently asked questions about mental health during COVID-19 lockdown.
Is this lockdown essential?
A. Yes, it definitely is. Remember, this lockdown is to knockdown Coronavirus mainly by:
– Promoting social distancing, thereby reducing person-to-person spread
– Preventing large gatherings that could serve as hotspots of infection
Is it normal to be fearful of the current situation?
Yes, you might feel fearful and worried at times. However, it is not okay to panic, or get stressed and anxious. Monitor your reactions with this checklist.
Normal feelings include:
– Extra concerned about yourself, your family and loved ones
– Bored or alone at times
– Bit bothered about uncertainty
– Seeking and reading information
However, you must seek support if you feel:
– Preoccupied with COVID-19 situation
– Panicked, thereby reacting differently
– Problem sleeping, concentrating or focusing
– Obsessed with media and daily numbers
Who is more likely to feel stressed due to the COVID-19 situation?
Everyone reacts to stressful situations differently, but people who may respond more strongly could include:
– People at high risk of COVID-19 like older people and people with chronic diseases
– Pregnant women and children
– Doctors and healthcare providers taking care of COVID-19 patients
– People with pre-existing mental illnesses
How can long-term social distancing affect mental health?
Staying indoors and away from the outside world can cause worry, anxiety and fear. It can also affect:
Your thinking, making you:
– Feel confused
– Have reduced focus
– Have difficulty in making decisions
– Have difficulty concentrating
And, your emotions, causing
– Overwhelming sadness
– Anger or short-temper
– Increased urge to smoke or drink alcohol
– If anyone experiences any of these for 2-4 weeks or more, you must consult a doctor.
Do you feel working from home during the lockdown has reduced your productivity?
– Think from a new perspective, work from home can seem challenging but can be managed.
– Make a daily schedule, have a dedicated workspace and stay disciplined.
– Stay connected, focused and motivated by hosting frequent conference video calls and stand-ups with your teammates.
– Share your work from home hacks with your other colleagues.
Here’s how to keep your spirits up while social distancing
1. Focus on facts and not fake messages: Don’t rely on WhatsApp messages for facts. Seek information updates from authentic websites like WHO, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
2. Keep yourself busy: Create a to-do list and perform your daily activities accordingly. Try to help your loved ones perform household chores. Pursue a hobby, listen to music, watch a movie or read a book, just distract yourself from boredom.
3. Maintain distance but stay connected: Social distancing does not mean emotional distancing. Stay connected to your neighbours or people who may need some extra assistance through phone calls. Turn to your friends, relatives, colleagues or other trusted persons for advice or social support– they may be having similar experiences to you.
4. Practice positivity and gratitude: Instead of focusing on people getting sick focus on the number of people who recovered. Soothe your anxiety by practicing gratitude and reminding yourself how special and beautiful life is, even under stressful conditions. Honour and acknowledge the role of healthcare and frontline workers. Stigma or fear towards them can make this challenging situation far worse.
5. Get a daily dose of exercise or meditation: Adjust yourself to this new normal and ensure to devote at least 30 minutes to some sort of activity such as stretching, walking on rooftops/ balconies, yoga or skipping.
1. Avoid addiction such as tobacco and alcohol: Use of tobacco or alcohol or other drugs to cope with emotions or boredom can worsen physical, mental health and reduce immunity.
2. Avoid obsessing with coronavirus news: Don’t follow anything that makes you uncomfortable or distressed. Seek information updates at specific times during the day, only to know what steps will protect you and your loved ones.
3. Do not stigmatize people: Staying quarantined for 14 days is not a punishment. It’s an act of self-realization and social responsibility. Respect such people. Also, not everyone who is coughing has coronavirus.
4. Do not judge people with coronavirus infection: While you need to maintain a physical distance and keep yourself safe to prevent such infection, remember that they need care and concern too and it could happen to anyone.
5. Do not panic and keep your calm: If you happen to get infected with Corona, remember most people get better.
– For seniors: Most importantly, make them understand this is not one of the crises they may have faced in their lives, and so they should take it lightly. Relay the instructions respectfully, clearly and patiently. Help them practice the preventive measures well.
– For children: Create an atmosphere where they can express and communicate their fears freely. It relieves them. Connect them to their friends regularly on video/audio calls.
– For people with mental illness: Anyone with mental illness may develop clinical anxiety or their condition may worsen. Be extra watchful to not miss on medicines and look for any new symptoms.
It is important to understand and accept that such conditions are not under anyone’s control. We need to deal with this situation patiently and with a calm mind.
(The article is written by Diksha Chakraborty and reviewed by Dr. Swati Mishra, Medical Editor)
1. Video by MoHFW: Keep your mental health in check. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Xrse108SbA&feature=youtu.be
2. Taking Care of Your Emotional Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).