Importance of Mental Health and Coping with Stress during COVID-19

What is Mental Health?

Mental health is related to psychological, emotional, and social well being. It determines how we handle matters associated with stress, the choices we make, and matters related to others.

Some main factors that contribute to psychological state problems include:

  • Family history of psychological state issues.

  • Biological factors such as genes.

  • Life experiences such as abuse or trauma.

The COVID-19 outbreak is a stressful period for people, bringing about fear and anxiety around the disease which can be overwhelming for both adults and children.

Moving forward, many of us will be spending a lot of time at home and our regular social activities will no longer be the same as before. In trying times like this, it is important that we make peace with the forces out of our control and take this as an opportunity to be in-tuned with others in numerous ways than usual.

Some of the stressful situations can include:

  • Worrying about the health of your loved ones as well as your own health.

  • Loneliness, changes in sleeping and eating patterns.

  • Increased use of alcohol and tobacco

  • Worrying about your chronic health problems.

  • Unavailability of essential services and household goods for the public.

People at higher risk:

  • Impact on elderly people and people with disabilities: are at increased risk depression can be mistaken as a normal part of aging.

  • Doctors may be more likely to miss mental health concerns among People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors, other health care providers, and first responders.

  • Children and teens: can have a negative impact on their minds during such situations ( online classes, less playing, the absence of physical activities, sports and games )

Some ways to cope up with stress:

  • Stay Connected: Staying in touch with friends and family through telephone, emails, text messages and virtual communication can help loved ones feel less lonely and isolated.

  • Managing feelings of being trapped or claustrophobia - Windows could be open to letting in the fresh air, find an area to sit down with a view outside or sit on the doorstep or in your garden if you've got one. It also can help to regularly change the rooms you spend time in (if possible).

  • Talk to children: We need to minimize the negative impact it has on children and explain the facts to them.

  • Restricting media and social media coverage: watching, reading, or listening about the pandemic could become too overwhelming and upsetting.

  • Make time to unwind: as most of the employees are following the work-from-home culture, their work-life balance seems to have gone for a toss. Due to the scarcity of informal interactions with employees, colleagues are becoming stressed and are thereby clocking in longer hours to overcompensate. Therefore you should do things which you enjoy because it helps you to possess a fresh mind and acknowledge your feelings and concentrate on the stuff you can control. Take care of your own emotional health and stay home if you are sick.

  • Take care of your body: try to eat healthily, exercise regularly, practice effective sleep, oral, physical hygiene, and limit the consumption of alcohol.

  • Set goals: Setting goals and achieving them gives a way of control and purpose – thinking about things that can be done at home. It could be reading a book, watching a film, learning something online or studying for exams

  • Keeping the mind active: we can keep our mind in good health by playing games, reading, jigsaws or drawing, writing, doing crossword puzzles, sudoku, and painting.

Helping colleagues and clients deal with anxiety:

  • Humour - It helps to manage emotional responses, diffusing the impact.

  • Team support - chatting and providing support during this pandemic is critical.

  • Acknowledge that anxiety at such a difficult time is totally normal.

What Communities, Healthcare Workers, Government, and NGOs can do:

Many individuals live in a community and depend on the services and support provided by the community members. Long term efforts must be made to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within communities.

Healthcare workers can educate people about the current situation, the expected psychological impact, and reactions to trauma. Make sure they understand that a psychological reaction is normal especially elderly people and people with disabilities remind them that asking for and accepting help is a sign of strength. Healthcare workers can also have a ready procedure to treat people showing distress.

The Government and NGOs should make sure that people with acute issues can find the help they need.

In India, there are many organizations working towards the betterment of the psychological state, especially in these difficult times. The Live, Love, Laugh Foundation (TLLLF) is one such organization. The foundation aims to alter the way one looks at a psychological state and provides hope to those experiencing stress, anxiety, and depression (SAD). Other foundations include Minds Foundation, Manas Foundation, The Banyan, and Aasra.

People coming out of quarantine have emotional stress from being monitored for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Stress from anger, sadness, or frustration because friends and loved ones have fears of contracting the disease. In order to make them feel better, we can always acknowledge their feelings and remind them to look after their physical and mental health.

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