The outbreak of COVID-19 has wreaked havoc in many countries across the world. In India, 31,787 people have tested positive for COVID-19 as of 29th April 2020. The news of the pandemic and its effects keeps pouring in from different sources like social media, friends and family members, which may create a sense of fear and anxiety among people. To prevent the spread of the infection, on 14th April 2020, the Government of India extended the 21-day nationwide lockdown until 3rd May 2020.
The lockdown includes a complete ban on stepping outside the house except for food and health necessities. In most countries, people have been asked to keep a safe distance from each other (about 6 feet) and avoid public transportation, schools and social gatherings at places like the church.
Although lockdown and social distancing is the need of the hour, the limitations on going out of the home and interruption in daily routine can cause stress and take a toll on your mental and physical health.
Mental health during COVID-19 crisis
As you deal with this unprecedented situation, it is normal to feel anxious or worried that you or your family members may contract the COVID-19 infection.
You may also feel concerned about the financial strain due to lack of work or worried about fulfilling your responsibilities towards your family like getting enough food supplies. A halt in your daily routine or the lack of meaningful activities can give rise to a feeling of sadness or low mood.
Being social animals, we all need some human interaction on a regular basis, and loneliness starts to creep in as we spend too much time at home, away from friends. Dealing with high-risk family members, managing work from home and trying to keep children occupied in indoor activities all at the same time or simply adjusting to a situation where you have limited to no social life can also lead to a lot of stress.
All this can lead to the following change in behaviours:
- Increase in the use of tobacco, alcohol or drugs
- Changes in sleeping or eating patterns
- Worsening of existing health conditions
- Difficulty in sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of existing mental conditions like depression, anxiety or panic
How to deal with stress in such a situation?
Here are some tips for managing stress during this outbreak:
- Update yourself through reliable sources: The more you know about the situation, the less fearful you may feel. However, you should consult only trustworthy sources like the World Health Organization or Government websites for the latest information.
- Limit the number of times you seek updates: Constantly checking social media or newsfeeds can be overwhelming and can fuel your anxiety rather than easing it. The limit of how much is too much is different for each person. So, pay attention to how you feel and set your limit accordingly.
- Minimize your exposure to media outlets or the Internet: Some social media outlets may promote fear among people. Stay away from such sources. If you feel anxious after watching, hearing or reading the news, make sure you stay on social media for a limited amount of time and only at specific times of the day. You may choose to stay off of social media altogether if needed. Stay in contact with others through e-mails or texts rather than social media or the Internet.
- Ask someone trustworthy to share updates: If you need an important update but are avoiding the media entirely, ask some trustworthy person to update you.
- Beware of what you share: Always verify the information before sharing it with others. Avoid being a part of rumormongering and adding to the panic.
- Stick to your schedules: Maintain a consistent schedule that includes timely meals, sleep and exercise. Keep your family engaged in fun and meaningful activities. Help with the chores at home.
- Exercise regularly: Stay physically active. Perform indoor exercises that will help you stay fit. Exercising can also help you feel better by improving your mood.
- Maintain a healthy diet: Stress can affect your eating habits and may lead to emotional eating. Keep healthy snacks on hand that will nourish your body. Moreover, such snacks will regulate your blood sugar levels and keep them stable throughout the day.
- Stay away from negativity: Distract yourself from negative emotions by focusing on your hobbies, reading, watching movies, listening to music or even learning new things.
- Handle anxiety carefully: If you are feeling anxious, breathe slowly for a few minutes. Distance yourself from anxious thoughts. If you are feeling angry, count backwards from 10 to 1. Yoga and meditation can be extremely helpful in calming your anxiety.
Choose to stay away from stress during this outbreak by following these tips and bring a sense of normalcy to your life. To know more about stress management, contact our expert therapists, who will guide you towards a suitable way to combat stress. If you or anyone near you have symptoms of the COVID-19 infection, get tested in your nearby laboratory using our HealthAssure app.
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