COVID-19 & Mental Health: Humanity has woken up to an unprecedented scare of COVID-19. No one of this generation on this planet has experienced the threat of an unseen, microscopic enemy before this at this scale. Electronic news channels, social media, newspapers are full of information about the relentless march of the virus through continents and with the increasing number of casualties are flashing on the screens. Humans are social animals. They are averse to any drastic change. Understandably, we all have reacted with heightened anxiety, panic while dealing with the pandemic and the changes that it has brought with it.
- Some people have become irritable with the lack of availability of previously taken for granted luxuries and are not able to cope with the changed routine of work, homebound state and inability to be in control of the situation.
- Some have just not understood the gravity of the situation and tried to break every possible restriction put by the authorities just because they don’t care what happens to them let alone the society.
- Senior citizens have also become anxious, depressed due to loss of their routine of going for a walk or chatting with their friends. Difficulty in accessing their doctors for various ailments is making them more anxious.
Dr Himani Kulkarni, Consultant Psychiatrist, Jupiter Hospital, Pune, states to break the vicious cycle of negative thoughts by distracting yourself with other activities like singing, listening to songs, chanting, reading, drawing, doing repetitive chores like cleaning, exercising. Activities which relax your muscles will take away these anxious thoughts. These will vary with each person. Yoga, deep breathing, relaxation will also take care of those anger outbursts.
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- Experimenting with whatever food materials available will give a boost to your creative side. Involve children into learning life skills like cutting, chopping, grocery selection, washing up etc.
- With the availability of digital media, learning a new language or online music classes or whatever skill that you feel inclined to can be practised. It holds for adults too.
- Let the kids also while away their time aimlessly. Let them have their unstructured time too. It is these times when their brain functions the most imaginatively.
- For people with special needs, building a new routine for them is a must. It will keep them calm and happy. You can involve the other family members in it too who till now could not participate in their care.
- Keep yourself informed about the situation from reliable sources which will allay anxiety. Do not watch the so-called breaking news repeatedly as it is bound to make your heart skip a beat.
- Above all, let us all learn that we can sit still doing nothing. Constant activity and screens are not necessary for life. There is no need to feel pressurised to be continuously engaged.
- This is a chance given to us by the virus, however destructive it is, to redeem ourselves. If we do not change for good now, then we never will.
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