The spread of coronavirus has not only caused widespread deaths across the world, the ensuing lockdowns have led to severe mental health issues in a large number of people around the world. Mahrukh Nadeem writes about the ways we can protect our mental health amid COVID-19 lockdowns as we negotiate this unprecedented style of life .


he world is facing its worst crisis since the WWII as it braves the novel Coronavirus, an unprecedented disease that has affected every nook and corner of the planet. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only had a massive toll on humans’ health and lives, it has also affected the way humans conduct their routine lives, businesses and social interactions. The virus has hit us personally, socially, financially, economically and not to forget, mentally as well. Lately, we have all been observing isolation and social distancing measures and contemplating how and when this situation will get over, when our lives will be on the move again and would the society we knew will ever return to what it once was. 

 

If you find yourself glued to television all the time looking for news and latest information every minute, you must take a break. Avoid excessive exposure to media coverage of Coronavirus

 

With parks, shopping malls, educational institutes, offices, transport system and industries of all kinds shut down, a majority of the world’s population is struggling to maintain a healthy body and mind inside the four walls of a house. Maintaining sanity has become especially hard given the constant bombardment of information related to rising death toll and infections, shortages of essential supplies, massive job losses etc. The fear and anxiety have had their effect on almost all human beings and led to immense mental strain on most individuals.With the past few weeks having been disturbing and anxious for all of us, and since the lockdown imposed by the government continues in milder form, we might give our mental health some thought and consider these following ways in which we can keep our mind in a healthy state.

  • Limit The News

The most anxiety inducing part of this lockdown is the continuous bombardment of news through television and social media. If you find yourself glued to television all the time looking for news and latest information every minute, you must take a break. Avoid excessive exposure to media coverage of Coronavirus. Limit the amount of time you spend reading every article related to COVID-19 and watching every news related to it, because consuming each and everything will not cause you any good,

 

Call your friends, family and acquaintances. Ask them about how they are dealing and discuss mutual fears and apprehensions. As now you have enough time it’s a good time to catch up

 

it will instead leave you more unsettled and anxious. Continuously listening to same kind of information provokes anxiety and makes you over-analyze and over-think every situation. Decide a specific time to watch news and always make sure that you follow authentic news sources. As there is so much misinformation floating around the social media, it sometimes becomes hard to get hold of authentic information. Therefore, always visit authentic websites like WHO’s website and government of Pakistan’s official website for any news you are seeking. Most importantly try not to share information without fact checking from credible sources.

  • Stay Connected

As the lock down is extended, people are experiencing greater sense of isolation. Loneliness, anxiety, depression are assumed to be the consequences of this pandemic and how it has put our lives on a hold. Not to forget that this pandemic might have aggravated these mental health issues among people who were already dealing with such issues.

Rather than spending time on social media or becoming a couch potato, stay active. Physical activity stimulates our brain and boosts our immunity and happy hormones

So in the time of social distancing, it’s important that we take care of everyone out there and provide our virtual help as much as we can. Call your friends, family and acquaintances, ask them about how they are dealing, talk to them about their fears and apprehensions. As now you have enough time call your old lost friends and distant relatives, talk to them and catch up. Staying connected and talking to loved ones will help to maintain mental health during long periods of self-isolation. 

 

     Make A Routine

This unexpected time of lockdown has left us in the middle of nowhere. Educational institutes are closed, many of us are working from home, house help is not available, there is nowhere to go for recreation, everybody is expected to observe isolation, and this all has messed up our routines, leading us to spend more and more time on our mobile phones. Whether you are a bachelor, husband, wife, child or an elderly, engage yourself in healthy distractions. Make a timetable as it will help you to get into routine. Limit your phone usage and spend your time in healthy activities; play games, read books, complete unfinished projects, spend time with family, cook healthy meals and learn a new skill or new language. Making a routine or time table helps in giving perspective to your life, something that we could all make use of in this lockdown.

     Stay Active, Get A Hobby

Though this situation is not in our control, the only thing we can really do is change the way we look at this situation and deal with it effectively to maintain our sanity. Rather than spending time on social media or becoming a couch potato, stay active. Physical activity stimulates our brain and boosts our immunity and happy hormones. Inculcating an exercise routine in your life and engaging in a hobby will also help you loosen up and let your mind wander away from current situation. Getting into a physical activity also helps cushion against depression and anxiety.

     Pause & Reflect 

Under the current circumstances, if you ever feel overwhelmed, just pause, rewind and take things day by day. If you feel paranoid thinking about your situation and are anxious, you must rest, take a deep breath, and practice some relaxation exercises. Breathing and relaxation exercises really help controlling your anxiety and agitation. And do not forget to seek help if your anxiety is not managed. 


Mahrukh Nadeem is a clinical psychologist. She regularly writes on issues related to mental health and can be reached at mahrukh.nadeem@gmail.com

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