Mental Health During Covid19
Author: Dr Sudipta Roy
(M.A., M.PHIL (NIMHANS), PhD)
Director, Psy Lens Centre, Surat
Mental fitness has become an integral part of emotional well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has invaded us with challenges in our daily lives, such as disruption of routine activity, inability to leave our homes and a severely restricted social life. There is a physical strain on our body because of loss of activity, as well as economic strains due to loss/ reduction in income; increasing unemployment, etc. A lot of frustration has developed as the responsibilities and demands of caring for our near and dear ones increase, at the same time there is a limited access to essential and desired supply. There is irritation, anxiety and fear of illness in all of us now, and what more, we are now also battling our weight gains!
Further, there has been a rise in mental health conditions because of situations of bereavement, isolation, anxiety and loss of income. In fact, reports have shown an unfortunate increase in child abuse, domestic violence and substance abuse. There are also higher rates of academic and behavioral problems in children.
One of the most important ways of improving mental health requires adequate Stress management. Let us understand the nature and dynamics of stress. Stress is the body’s way of reacting to a negative or harmful stimulus. There are many stressors, they may be environmental, social or psychological and they may differ in intensity, duration or predictability.
Each person’s response to stress is unique, depending on their physiological makeup, their mental health and their personality characteristics and heir self-concept. The response to stress also depends on the resources available with us to deal with stress. Often external resources are also needed to deal with stresses such as say a pending loan, like money or an unmet deadline of a submission of a report, which requires skills, and most importantly a social network to get through it all.
The current pandemic is a chronic, unpredictable and complex challenge as people are facing decreased resources, and prolonged emotional distress, causing psychological as well as physical problems.
Being mentally healthy requires a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not just the absence of disease or infirmity.
A template to deal with the situation requires a 4-step approach of -
1. Acceptance of the infection and circumstances
2. Cooperation with the administration
3. Awareness of the latest updates on the treatments and administrative mechanisms 4, Control over one’s unhealthy emotions and negative thoughts. This leads to a more in-control and positive environment that encourages hope a person in these disheartening circumstances.
It is also advisable to build on a health schedule that pays attention to physical, emotional and social needs. This can be done by taking care of your body in small ways such as grooming, hygiene and exercise. Always congratulate yourselves for small achievements such as cleaning, cooking, taking care of kids, etc. Try to maintain a connection socially and indulge in recreational activities too, because that is the best recharge your body and mind can get.
As mentioned above, sometimes these stresses are overwhelming and hard to deal with on our own, so it is imperative that people do not hesitate to seek social or professional support. Here are some red flags you can look out for: changes in mood and energy, change in food and sleeping habits, significant loss in quality of work and social relations, feeling unusually cranky, confused or forgetful, having unexplained pains or feeling a sense of hopelessness. If you notice such changes in your well-being, don’t be shy of making a move to seek help!
Finally this is a time to change from the earlier and familiar ways to adopt a new way based on-
a. A re-defined from self and others,
b. Making adjustments in work-space and routine
c. Re-evaluating the resources in your reach such as monetary, health and social and emotional support and
d. Reaching out to seek or provide support!!! Remember, reaching out is a sign of strength in adversity and not weakness!
STAY SAFE, KEEP HOPE, BE PATIENT as TIME AND PERSEVERANCE CAN OVERCOME THE PANDEMIC!!