With the sheer amount of uncertainty in the air, it is no wonder that the coronavirus situation is also taking a toll on the mental health of people, especially people who are already suffering from mental illness like Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). Most of us want to stay in touch with what is going on through news, but it is overwhelming most of us. Read on to know how to deal with the mental distress in quarantine times:
Set some quarantine rituals
With time on your hands, set some quarantine rituals so that you have something to look forward to each day. Do something that makes you happy: take a walk every day, start writing a journal, or start a new hobby that excites you.
Nothing overcomes stress like endorphins. Stress causes a surge of cortisol in the body, which over a period of time can be detrimental to health. Exercise is a ‘classic anxiety reduction strategy’ according to Dr. Ken Duchworth, medical director of the National Alliance on mental Illness (Nami) because it boosts happiness. Exercise releases happy hormones—known as endorphins, which can reduce the impact of stress hormones like cortisol. Start a daily routine with a fitness app, YouTube videos, jogging or cycling, whatever works for you, and you will find stress edging away.
Take a break
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommends taking a break from reading, watching and listening to news stories about COVID-19. Not focusing on the negative is important for the mental health. Watching news round the clock can weigh the minds with negative thoughts, which is definitely not good for any ongoing anxiety and stress.
A break must also be taken from the social media, and the countless myths that circulate about COVID-19.
Wash hands but not excessively so
Being told to wash hands constantly can trigger OCD in some people. People with obsessive-compulsive disorder, have a fear of contamination, and constant advice about handwashing can be a prompt for such patients. Therefore, look out for why you are washing hands: to reduce the risk of spreading a disease or are you ritualistically doing it to ‘feel right’.
According to the World Health Organization’s mental health tips, it is important to be empathetic to those who are affected by COVID-19. Equally important is to not attach any stigma with the disease, or associate the disease to any particular ethnicity. Moreover, it is more empathetic to not refer to the COVID-19 affectees as ‘victims’ or ‘the diseased’ and refer to them as ‘people who have COVID-19’ or ‘people being treated for COVID-19’.
Healthcare workers are especially vulnerable during this time as they work on the frontline. For them, mental and psychosocial well-being is as important as physical well-being. Eating right, getting sufficient rest, and respite between shifts can help keep the mind and the body stay fresh. Healthcare workers should also stay in touch with their family and friends for mental support.
Stay connected with your people
The biggest reason that many people are experiencing mental toll during coronavirus is a lack of human connection. Social distancing does not mean that you cannot talk to your friends or family through digital means. Agree upon a check-in time and talk to your family and friends through group chats, or video calls. Having a routine and checking-in regularly can strike a balance throughout the day.
Talking to friends and family can also help dissipate stress and anxiety. According to experts, being around a loved one can decrease anxiety and have a response tantamount to an analgesic effect. While physical presence is always better, in these situations even a digital one would do.
Do something you have always wanted to do
There’s always something that we want to do but find we don’t have time for it in our busy schedule. Well, the quarantine now allows us ample time to pursue these interests. Wanted to learn knitting, or read a particular book, or learn cooking? Now is the perfect time to indulge in your new interest and get good at it.
Misinformation can raise the anxiety and stress that surrounds COVID-19. This doesn’t mean that one-stop looking it up, but instead of rumor and speculation, it is better to look up the information on reputable websites, that have updated information. Government of Pakistan has set up its site to help people access information about COVID-19 www.nih.org.pk
If you have questions about COVID-19, these websites can help provide you the correct and authentic information about symptomology, situation summary, and the current treatment guidelines.
Mindful meditation, walking and breathing exercises, even for just a couple of minutes a day, can help with anxiety. The purpose of such exercises is to bring the mind to the present, instead of focusing on the anxieties and stressors of the future.
Book an online video consultation with a top psychologist through oladoc.com if you are experiencing a mental toll during coronavirus. You can also call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT professional for your concerns.