- COVID-19 has taken a severe toll on every individual, not just physically but emotionally and mentally, also putting them under mental stress and anxiety.
- We must learn and adjust to living with the new normal with changed lifestyle and behaviour among people amid job loss and financial strain.
- Every individual needs to put his/her best effort as the economy restarts to cope up with the kinds of mental pressure that can come up.
An unprecedented virus hit our doors about five months back and has ravaged the whole world through its outbreak locking people inside their homes, halting all business activities, and flooding hospitals, putting a significant burden on our economy and healthcare system. More than 4 billion people have been in some form of lockdown to avoid the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Everything came to a standstill, and the world is going through a transition. Deserted roads, isolated people, bans on travel, no dining and movies, social distancing has changed the world order with everyone trying their individual best to cope up with the phase.
Various countries are now reopening their economies as the virus spread slows, to lift their economic growth. During the phase of COVID-19, people are facing concerns about their own and family’s health, employment status due to business disruptions, and fear of an uncertain future. The crisis has resulted in depressed moods, loneliness, and increased stress.
- Living with the new normal
As the economies reopen, we must keep in mind that it does not imply that we have overcome the virus and that there is no risk of catching it now. The threat and uncertainty remain regarding the extent of its outbreak and the duration for which it will last. So, returning to normal is pretty far, and we are now figuring out the new normal.
The new normal period following the easing of large-scale restrictions will not be comfortable amid several issues relating to data collection, scarcity of testing kits and other kinds of risk.
Hence, we must charge up our intellectual functions about learning, behaviour, personality, and reasoning to move into the next phase to get the strength to cope with new demands. We need to protect our mental health at every stage now.
- Varying risk amongst different people
Due to uncertainty in public health recommendations, we must understand and know what matters to us the most. Each person/family has varying levels of risk and what they can resume to after lockdown. Elders are particularly at high risk from COVID-19 than the younger generation.
Healthcare workers have the job of safeguarding vulnerable people who have cancer, heart and respiratory diseases, and other forms of illness and keeping them isolated from others during these times. Some people have jobs while some have already lost their jobs, putting them at a high financial risk which also results in high mental stress.
You are lucky enough if you got to stay with your family during this lockdown. People who are staying in isolation without their family could be going through a high level of anxiety. Hence, this shows different people have different levels of risk and varying needs and values. We must be compassionate and clear in communicating our respective situations to others.
- Stop worrying
We must understand what is it that we can control and what we cannot. Focussing on the present is comforting, empowering and essential. In this environment of extreme uncertainty, worrying and overthinking will not help in solving any problem as and when it arises. We anyways do not have enough information to solve a problem that might occur in future.
If you have a restaurant/business, worrying on how much revenue will you earn, how many customers are going to come from now on, and plans on raising money can make you more anxious and overwhelmed. We try to imagine different scenarios of the problem that may arise in future and start predicting different possibilities to solve that particular problem.
Hence, we must focus on the present and solving the problems at present like I need to finish this today, I need to make this for lunch etc. This can help us in making better decisions and solving the problem more effectively.
- Maintain a routine with basic hygiene and increase social interaction
Keep your routine time to eat, sleep, work, and exercise (a must to drive away stress and stay fit) set can help you sail through this difficult period more smoothly. Being consistent with the sleep and wake times, exercise schedule and set time for regular meals as well as leisure activities is essential. Apart from this, basic hygiene practices of washing hands regularly and washing everything that has come from outside is something we will have to follow until the virus is completely contained.
There are a lot of online application these days that effectively help in mindfulness, behavioural therapy, meditation, and sleep management which can be downloaded for relieving stress.
Further, there is a high probability of becoming socially isolated when we are required to maintain physical distance from other people. You must keep taking initiatives to keep in touch with your loved ones through video conferencing, Zoom and different modes of communication. Social support has a lot of health benefits.
- Avoid fake news sources
Pick 3-4 reliable sources of information that you can trust and believe, especially if social media news makes you anxious or angry. There are many negative side-effects of social media consumption, so you must make a note of your scroll time and limit it to a few minutes to avoid any unnecessary anxiety.
Spending a lot of time watching news related to COVID-19 tolls or economic contraction, which is the top news on every media page these days can be awful for your mental health. Relying on a few sources that have a good reputation and keeping track of the time spent on these can really help.