Stress. Anxiety. Depression.
We have been hearing about this trio far too often ever since the pandemic began.
COVID-19 has impacted more than the economy, livelihood and lifestyle of people. It has exposed people to an unseen but real threat.
The very fact that we may be at risk of contracting a potentially deadly virus is increasing anxiety, stress and depression in the population irrespective of age, gender and location.
This has confined us to our homes against our wills. Earlier, we could choose whether we wanted to go on weekend trips, hit the clubs, eat out with friends or stay home in our pyjamas. However, COVID-19 has left us without that choice. We have to stay inside as much as possible, mostly against our will, to keep ourselves, our loved ones and others in our community safe.
How has COVID19 taken a toll on our emotional health?
As humans, we love to think that we have control. We believe, we have the right to choose what we want to do with our day.
After the nation-wide lockdown, we are still struggling to adjust to the new normal. Some are out of jobs. Others are away from their families, unable to catch a flight to several metro cities. Some are struggling for a breath of fresh air confined to their homes.
In short, we are gradually realizing that no matter how strongly we would like to believe it, we DON’T have any control. COVID-19 has created a crisis that goes beyond finances and socialization. The pandemic has stirred the deep seated predisposition towards depression, anxiety and stress disorders in millions across the globe.
In these tough times you need to remember that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Are you suffering from emotional stress?
While everyone reacts differently to stress, the isolation has taken a significant toll on the emotional and mental health of people from all age groups and socioeconomic class across our nation.
Here’s how it may have affected your mental health –
- You are worried about our own health, the health and wellbeing of your loved ones, and grief over the loss of people you have known.
- You are losing sleep due to stress and anxiety, which isn’t helping you if you already suffer from anxiety disorders, PTSD and/or depression.
- Many were unable to reach out to their counsellors and psychiatrists during the initial weeks of the sudden lockdown. That further worsened the mental health situation, especially among the millennial population.
- Many have turned to alcohol, excessive smoking, and recreational drug use to get over the monotony of self-isolation.
- The threat of losing your job or the actual loss of your job have made fighting mental health disorders much more difficult than it was even a year back due to a sudden change of your economic status and priorities.
What can you for the upkeep of your mental health during the pandemic and isolation period?
Find the right names for your emotions
To manage an emotion, you need to acknowledge it. Naming the emotion can do just that for you. You can feel angry, frustrated, scared, alone, sad, despaired, melancholy and a mix of endless emotions.
So take a second and reflect on how you are feeling. It’s alright to tell yourself, “I’m scared” or “I feel lonely.” Sometimes putting how you feel in words is all you need to gain an understanding of your emotions.
Acknowledging your emotions is the only way to rendezvous with it and stop a full-blown downward spiral right on its tracks.
Find the things you can control
Losing control is a dreadful feeling. You may be afraid and even helpless right now if you are only looking at the things you cannot control in life.
It’s time to shift focus. Find the things you can control.
Use a private journal or a journaling app like Chiku to make a list of activities that you can control and make you feel good. These can include –
- Spending time with your family.
- Spending time with your pets or taking care of neighbourhood animals.
- Fixing yourself a healthy, homemade meal every afternoon and evening.
- Keeping time aside for 15 to 20 minutes of exercise per day.
- Having a cheat day where you can order ice cream or make homemade brownies.
- De-cluttering your home the Marie Kondo style.
- Beginning your meditation and mindfulness routine from today!
Make exhaustive lists of problems and potential solutions
When you find the right journaling app, listing the problems that have been bothering you throughout the day becomes much easier.
- Jot your problems down, so they stop swirling around in your head. Simply seeing them on paper or an app will make your head feel lighter and it will give you the space you need to think about the solutions.
- Begin listing the solutions. Now, you might need some time to see the potential solutions after you jot your problems down, and that’s okay!
- Once you have the problems and their potential solutions in front of you, assess the list. Take your time to think about the outcomes of each solution and which ones you like.
- Don’t search for the “perfect solution.” Look for the one that is optimum for your situation.
Always remember that right and wrong can be relative depending on each person’s situation.
When you are emotionally distressed, your first goal should be to identify the solutions that help in the improvement of your emotional and mental health.
Don’t resist change
It’s easier said than done. “The only thing constant is change” – is something we have heard a million times.
However, we still struggle to adapt to even the smallest changes in life. Remember, how frustrated we used to become when our favourite TV show changed broadcasting times? Or, when our favourite candies suddenly went out of the market?
As human beings, we need consistency to feel secure. The pandemic has brought forth umpteen changes, which have shaken our sense of control and security to the core.
We have been resisting change for a long time, that’s after all, in our nature. It’s time to stop resisting and finding ways to work with it.
Maybe these tips will help you work with the changing sceneries all around us –
- Write down what you feel about the change
- Find out what’s actually changing and write about that too
- Compare the two notes to see if you are perceiving the change in a way that’s much worse than reality
- Create new routines that may accommodate the change and help you adjust to the new normal
Keep an open mind. It’s easier to judge than welcoming new ideas. Experiment and try new ideas to see what suits the new situations best and fulfils your emotional needs.
Ask for help
These are tough times and even your friends and family know that. However, you cannot expect everyone to just understand your emotional turmoil.
The pandemic has affected almost everyone emotionally and mentally to some degree. Some people are better at managing it on their own and some need an extra hand.
If you think you could do with a little help from a friend, why wait? A number of leading psychologists, counsellors and psychiatrists in your city are volunteering to help you and others just like you who may need a little help with their emotional and mental health. They are available on phone, Zoom or Google Duo.
There are special COVID-19 helplines for emotional support open all across the country for people just like you and me. For Indian users, try calling the COVID19 emotional support helpline @7707070002 or sending them a message on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Social distancing and isolation are taking a toll on our mental and emotional health slowly but steadily. We hope that this post helps you find more than one way to take care of emotional and mental health.
Remember, it’s never too late to ask for help. Whether you need counselling services or emotional support, all you have to do is ask!