Six months ago, if you asked me what I will be doing today, I would say I will be in Malaysia visiting my sister. I will spend my summer with her and have fun exploring the country more than I did the last time I was there.
But look at us today. Let alone leaving the country, we are unable to leave our doorstep without having to think thousand times before doing so. Some of us are even stuck in some foreign land because we are unable to go back to our families.
Coronavirus took a toll on our social, physical and mental lives. The life we had before the spread of this virus was something most of us took for granted. How many of you wish to go back to your life before the pandemic no matter how stressful it was?
Coronavirus has affected each one of us in its own way. It had its effect on me too that I am still experiencing. The mental struggle and the physical struggle are real.
The impact on our mental health
Everything became very stressful after the coronavirus pandemic. The panic experienced by everyone (adults and children) due to this new disease caused a lot of mental distortion. Everybody is just scared and panicking all the time.
During this pandemic, we are all going through a period of fear and uncertainty. This causes a negative effect on our mental health. We go through stress, anxiety, and discomfort most of the time.
Don’t forget that there are people who were already having some kind of mental illness way before the pandemic even started. These are the ones who will have the hardest time of us all. Their medications may not be sufficient enough to get them better.
The problem is that most of us refuse to even visit a doctor in a hospital. Unless it is a serious physical or mental issue that can not be treated from home no matter what, we never leave the house to go and see a doctor. We are always in fear of getting infected from the very place where people come to get cured from their infection.
Mental health conditions have a huge affect on how a person is feeling, thinking and behaving. With everything that is happening around us, these may get heightened making things even worse. Some of these conditions can be short-term (situational), whereas others can be long-term (chronic).
The different mental health issues that we are facing today because of this pandemic include:
- Eating and sleeping disorders
- Anxiety disorders
- Mood disorders (such as depression, irritability)
- Feeling insecure
- Substance (like drugs or alcohol) abuse disorders
- Having irrational thoughts (like suicide)
Why are people experiencing these mental conditions?
Quarantine and social distancing are not the only reasons that our mental health is unstable. There are many other situations that we are facing today that is causing us our mental stability.
Let me share with you some of the reasons for the stress that the coronavirus pandemic has on us.
- Fear and worry of getting infected:
Most of us are in constant worry and fear that we, or any of our loved one, get infected with this virus. No matter how much social distancing we practice, the thought of getting infected doesn’t really stop, especially if you (or a family member) is required to leave the house regularly.
- Worrying about falling sick:
It is not only about getting infected. We also worry that we, or any other family member, falls sick because taking them to the hospital is the last thing anyone would want to do in these conditions.
- Worrying about your financial status:
How many of you is going through a financial crisis right now? I am sure 70-80% of the people reading this blog post are going through some kind of financial situation caused by the coronavirus. Many lost their jobs while others started receiving half of their usual income. This is a very stressful situation.
- Social Isolation:
The feeling of loneliness and social isolation by locking yourself at home can cause all different kinds of mental health crisis like depression, anxiety, etc. Even introverts feel unhappy about social isolation. People who are living alone tend to have the hugest impact of all.
- Health conditions getting worse:
For those who were already experiencing certain health conditions, it is possible that it is getting worse with all the stress they are experiencing. For people like me, who didn’t have a health condition prior to the pandemic, they may be starting to experience certain health conditions like blood pressure, diabetes, etc.
- Change in eating/sleeping patterns:
Because of the lockdown, most people have certainly changed their lifestyle after having nothing to do but eat and sleep. This will cause them to start experiencing headaches, mood swings, etc.
These are just the common struggles most people are going through in quarantine. There sure are many other personal battles individuals can be fighting.
But how can we learn to live with those struggles?
Ways to cope with these mental health conditions
It is true that we are going through a lot but we need to learn how to cope with whatever is happening around us. Panicking and worrying all the time will get us nowhere.
Here are some methods that can help you lead a better lifestyle during those dark days.
Monitor your news intake and social media
With the outrage of the coronavirus, there are updates on this virus all over the news channels and social media platforms. This increases our worriness as we have a lot of information being shared about this virus. However, you have to remember that not all sources are reliable enough to believe.
Some people share their stories and beliefs about the coronavirus on social media. The mistake that most of us do is that we believe or relate to everything said online regardless of who is sharing this info. This will increase our stress and affect our mental health.
WHAT I SHOULD DO:
Look for updates of factual information from a reliable resource. Also, try to limit your time spent on social media to avoid being exposed to myths shared on these platforms.
Everyone at this point of time is distressed and vulnerable. It is true and it is okay. Always getting a new “Breaking News” banner on your TV or notification on your phone can be agonizing. Anticipating distress is a good method to get through it.
Acknowledging that it is a difficult time will help you handle your mental health in a better way. You will learn to support yourself and also remind people to take care of themselves both physically and mentally.
WHAT I SHOULD DO:
Tell yourself that it truly is a stressful period for me and everyone around me. What I should be doing is looking for ways to get through it by looking after my physical and mental health, and the health of my loved ones. Eventually, everything will get better.
Create a routine
Of course your life is different from what it use to be months ago. If you are working from home or unemployed, it means that your routine is so messed up at this moment. You mostly get things done on a random basis that messes up your day.
The best way to cope up with the new norm is to create a routine for yourself. This will help you structure your day and improve your feeling of feeling lost on what to do.
Set a work schedule
Working from home has its advantages, but also its disadvantages. Most of us lose track of time when we get too involved with our work so we work for longer hours. Or, we keep procrastinating to get things done until it is too late, eventually messing with our submission date. At home, we tend to spend hours working without setting a schedule to follow; which is a hurtful thing to do.
If your job requires fixed hours (like from 9-5) even when working from home, then just follow the timeframe assigned to you. However, if you have open time settings to work from home, create a schedule to follow rather than just getting things done randomly.
WHAT I SHOULD DO:
Now is your chance to create a work schedule that you have always dreamed of. Don’t procrastinate or over work to keep yourself busy. Just make sure your schedule is very productive and stick to it!
I know this sounds so wrong and unrealistic to say at this point but wait, don’t get me wrong. By asking you to go outside, I mean to get some fresh air. You can’t just sit within four walls and not get some fresh air into your lungs.
If your city allows you to go out, take the necessary safety measures to keep yourself safe, like face masks and gloves, and go take a walk in a non-crowded area, or go outside and round the city by staying inside your car and listening to music you enjoy. It will help you elevate your mood and hence maintain a better mental health.
WHAT I SHOULD DO:
If having fresh air at your backyard still feels insufficient, look for alone outdoor activities to do while practicing physical distancing.
The thing about quarantine is it plays with your head making you want to stay isolated from everyone not only physically, but also mentally. Your mood swings makes you want to be alone and not in mood to talk to anyone at all. But don’t let this feeling consume you.
It is important that you don’t lose contact with your friends and families just because of this quarantine. By staying in touch with them, you get to feel their presence with you. You can also keep each other company through the day like you would if you had the chance to meet each other. Also, talking to friends about how you feel will help with decreasing your anxiety.
WHAT I SHOULD DO:
Use all the means of social media platforms, phone calls, video calls, etc. to keep in touch with your friends and family.
With all the stress and anxiety you feel when quarantined at home, you may feel the need to smoke or drink more than you usually do. Remember that this may seem like a solution to you for now but it will affect you in the long run.
It is important that you keep yourself healthy in this quarantine. By the time this whole juggle is over, you will need your health to go back to being your old self (even better if possible). So don’t let the frustration felt today affect your tomorrow.
WHAT I SHOULD DO:
Try to release your stress by eating healthy food, watching movies, doing some house chores, exercising, etc. There are different ways to keep yourself busy and occupied.
Follow some kind of self-care routine
For most of us, a self-care routine is a way to make ourselves feel better. A mask for a glowing face, writing on your journal, affirmations, or meditating can help boost your mood and energy levels.
Self-care is needed at times like these to remind us how important we are and how well we are taking care of ourselves. It will help you stay healthy, happy and productive.
WHAT I SHOULD DO:
Create a self-care routine that will help you feel better about yourself. Here are some ideas that can help.
This pandemic has a great effect on each one of us but we shouldn’t let it take control of our mental and physical health. Look for ways to stay sane, healthy and connected.
Remember that it may take us weeks or months for our lives to get better than it is today. I personally believe that this is the beginning of a new norm where people are going to live while taking necessary precautions to keep themselves safe from COVID-19 or any other disease.
Thank you for reading till the end 🙂
If you enjoyed this post, don’t forget to like it for support and share it on your social media to increase awareness.
If there are other factors affecting your mental health in this pandemic, feel free to share them with us in the comments below.