Severe Anxiety (Picture for representational purposes only, Photo Credits: Pixabay)
World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. According to WHO Chief, mental illness could also reach new highs during the COVID-19 lockdown. Given that our Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared a nationwide lockdown till 3rd May, mental health should be given number one priority. While managing mental health during this time may be harder than usual, it is not impossible. Here’s how you can deal with the stress and anxiety during these unprecedented times.
Stick to A Healthy Routine to Feel Normal
When we are home, there is some disruption of routine. Aim for maintaining a healthy lifestyle including proper diet, sleep and exercise to help negate the side effects associated with this change. It is important to remember that social distancing, doesn’t mean absolute distancing. There are several ways to stay virtually connected, build relationships and share your feelings with the people you trust. Self-Isolation During COVID-19 Pandemic: Bored of Cooking and Exercising? Here are Off-Beat Ways to Practice Self-Care to Reduce Stress and Anxiety.
Engage in Hobbies to Divert Your Mind
Keep yourself occupied and plan your daily activities in advance to divert your mind. Make a list of the hobbies, courses and other activities that you would like to peruse. Set “feel-good” goals for yourself and prioritise things that make you happy. A positive distraction can get you away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed anxiety and depression. Identify new home projects like a DIY photo frame or organise your closet. Make your time productive by engaging in online courses, tutorials, webinars and other activities. Find accountability and support buddy to keep you motivated through this time.
Be in Touch with Your Therapist if You Have a Pre-Existing Mental Health Condition
Dealing with isolation is hard. Humans are social creatures and need contact with others. Being deprived of that gives rise to a wide range of feelings, including fear, anger, sadness, loneliness, irritability, guilt, confusion and may even lead to sleep problems. This time can be especially difficult for those with a pre-existing mental illness. If you have a pre-existing condition, make sure you have enough medication on hand and are adhering to the cycle of medication. Have those sessions with your counsellor or therapist over calls, rather than skipping it all together. The need to adhere to therapy plan is important right now, more than ever. Ways Moving in With Your Parents to Quarantine During COVID-19 Pandemic Can Turn You into a Teen Again!
Diffuse Financial Insecurities by Building Your Career Network
With a lot of people losing their jobs, you are bound to have insecurity and financial worries. It is important to remember that you are not alone, and this is the bitter reality that everyone is facing. Use the time during lockdown can plan future endeavors and connect to new people over LinkedIn to build job related security. How to Deal with Money Stress During COVID-19 Pandemic? Tips to Reduce Financial Pressure and Anxiety in These Uncertain Times.
Communicate to Manage Relationships Better
Being in lockdown can be burden on relationships because of being in a confined space for a long time. Remember communication is key. Use creative ways to interact and stay connected. You can set up a gratitude tree where every member posts a message to share something, they are grateful for. You can also find a group to account for your daily challenges that could include a healthy habit, a mindful practice, a creative pursuit. Be sure to encourage and check in daily to stay motivated. You can also set dates and times to watch the same TV shows with someone and message each other your thoughts along the way. Coronavirus Lockdown in India: From Wearing COVID-19 Helmet to Riding Horse Painted With Images of Virus, Cops Get Creative to Raise Awareness About the Pandemic.
Stay Away from Substance Abuse to Prevent Dependency
The use of alcohol and other substances maybe on the rise during this time. You might do it to kill time use it as a coping mechanism to escape emotions. Excessive consumption will only make matters worse, reduce your coping skills and increase dependency after the lockdown is lifted. Replace this with productive activities that we just listed above.
Consume only Warranted News to Avoid Panic
Anxiety due to due to the fear of self and family contraction is normal but it is important to remain calm. At the same time, be careful by accurately determining risk and taking reasonable precautions. Panic is a result of the spread of false information. Be sure to follow credible sources such as WHO and limit the time spent watching or listening to media coverage that you perceive as upsetting. Is Anxiety around COVID-19 Pandemic Keeping You Awake? These Tips Will Help You Sleep Like a Log Throughout the Night.
Determine Your Anxiety Symptoms to Prevent Panic Attacks
Panic attacks are fairly common even under far less dire circumstances. Coronavirus seems to be causing many people to suffer panic attacks within a short time. “There’s an increased level of stress due to all this uncertainty,” Dr. Bufka said. Tightening of the chest and breathing difficulties — are often confused for symptoms of the coronavirus. It is important to know that severe anxiety can bring on a panic attack. It may be helpful to try to determine what brought on these symptoms and attempt grounding exercises to alleviate the panic. Tackling anxiety will reduce the likelihood of panic attacks.
Relieve Stress with Deep breathing Techniques and Meditation
Feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress as well as use of alcohol and other substances during this time, can snowball into issues with long term consequences. Even after the lock down is lifted so remember to aside time for yourself to relax and recharge. Practise deep breathing, yoga or meditation or anything that helps you relax. How to Meditate at Home – a Guide for Beginners: 7 Steps to Meditate for Relaxation, Better Focus and Peace of Mind During Lockdown (Watch Tutorial Video).
It is important to recognize what is typical and what’s not. When some symptoms and signs are reoccurring and interfere with daily life, it’s time to seek professional help. If you continue to face these negative emotions, talk to a professional, counsellor or Employee Assistance Program (EAP) if available. Hoping mental health problems such as anxiety or depression will go away on their own can lead to worsening symptoms.
(Contributed By: Aviva Damania, Psychologist and Mental Health Specialist from the University of London)