With words like ‘social distancing’, ‘flatten the curve’, ‘isolation’ and so on filling our screens and vocabularies, the COVID-19 situation has definitely put the world in an unusual spot. The idea of nearly all of humanity contained in self-imposed house arrests in the face of a deadly viral outbreak, sounds very much like an apocalyptic movie. As much as an inconvenience it is, the Q word is extremely important to stop the spread of the dreaded virus. Quarantine is our best weapon to help flatten the curve.
Of course, this measure comes with a lot of side effects. One of the most challenging issues that needs addressing is the effect of quarantining on mental health. Most of the people have found themselves at a roadblock when it comes to their normal routines, which has created a whirlpool of stress like never before. This, along with the fear and anxiety about the disease, has made the entire situation very overwhelming. But the only way out is coping with the stress and helping people around you with the same.
Quarantine stress can manifest itself in different ways from sleep disturbances to irregular eating habits, anxiety and panic attacks, sudden bursts of anger, depression, and even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The trigger to these issues will also be different in different people. Stress could rise from the fear of the disease, boredom, economical loss, frustration, lack of supplies, inadequate information, etc. Anyone can be a victim in these troubling times - from people with a history of mental health issues to those said to possess good psychological health conditions.
Identifying Mental Health Issues
There are multiple pointers to identify if you or the people around you are having distressful mental health.
- Fear and worry about your own health
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty in sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
How to Cope with Distress
If you think you have the symptoms mentioned above, it’s important that you address the issue and start with coping mechanisms. It will make you stronger and enable you to help others cope, resulting in improved communal integrity. Here are a few tips that could render quarantine a better time altogether -
Follow a Routine: Start by charting out your day. Sitting idle might be your worst enemy now; so get your productivity gear on. If you are working from home, make sure you stick to your work routine just like you did before the lockdown. This might be difficult if you have kids at home. But make a plan for them, too. Because just like adults, they also experience the stress of this drastic lifestyle change.
Be Active: Physical inactivity will adversely affect your mental and physical health. Make sure your body gets enough exercise. Find a workout routine that floats your boat and paddle away. Even fun Instagram workout challenges may do you good.
Meditate: Meditation is quite the classic solution for reducing stress. Don’t discard it as boring yet. Meditation can bring out new qualities in you and keep your head calm.
Relax: Do yourself a favour and turn off the news channel now and then; relaxing is just as important. For the working class, this is a rare event - you have a lot of time to finally relax. Listen to your quarantunes and take it easy!
Try Something New: Set a few attainable challenges for you every day. Learn new things, work on your hobbies. This will keep you occupied and you get the satisfaction of working on yourself. You just might turn into a fantastic cook, actor, gardener, or artist during this period!
Stay Updated: It's normal to feel anxious when you do not have proper information on the current situation despite a crazy inflow of content related to it. You can always get verified information from trusted sources like your Government’s press releases or from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Stay Connected: Social distancing doesn’t mean you’ve to cut yourself off; human interaction is tremendously important! Staying connected is now easier, thanks to the advancement of technology. Make sure that you communicate with your friends. Helping each other through these tough times is extremely necessary. You are not alone in this.
Family Time: To those of us quarantined with our families, this is a rare golden opportunity to strengthen bonds. Give the extra attention to your grandparents - they always have the best stories! To those of us quarantined with others, families can spring up from the most difficult experiences, so hold on to the wonderful people around you.
Find Professional Help if Necessary: This point cannot be stressed enough. If you think that you need professional help to deal with your distressful mental health issues, seek it. There are multiple options that can be used here. Online counseling is always available. The Government along with the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS) has launched a toll-free helpline number - 08046110007.
This is among the strangest times of our lives. For some of us, it’s unfathomable boredom, for some of us, it’s a physical, economic struggle. But we can ceaselessly help each other - now is when we need it. Social distancing may bring us closer than anything else did - we are all in this together, let’s be better versions of ourselves by the end of Quarantine Season!