This blog is written by our clinical psychologist Meenakshi Chopra, MSc, MPhil.
With the rise in the numbers of people affected by the Coronavirus, there has been an increase in anxiety in people globally. WHO and public health authorities around the world are acting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. However, it is still continuing to affect the mental health of people all over the world leading to stress, anxiety, panic, OCD and other mood related problems.
Two reasons can be identified for the rising stress and anxiety in this situation. First, there is an ambiguity in our understanding of coronavirus, its course and treatment. Research is still going on to understand its nature and possible treatment measures. Uncertainty about the illness and its management is one of the primary reasons which is generating fear in people. Second, there are a lot of rumours floating around on social media. News media are also instrumental in sensationalizing news rather than focusing on facts.
It is common knowledge that Coronavirus is a serious physical illness. However, its association with mental health cannot be denied as it is also affecting physically healthy individuals. Given below are a few tips on managing stress and anxiety in the current situation.
- Find a trusted source of information- A reliable source of information is necessary as it would help in clarifying doubts and giving a clear picture of the situation. Secondly, it would also help in finding out if any changes are occurring. WHO is one of the most reliable sources which can be followed for latest updates. Keeping away from sensationalised news is very important. One should also refrain from checking for updates several times in a day.
- Understand the difference between possibility and probability- Every individual is facing the possibility of contracting coronavirus. However, the probability of its occurrence would vary from person to person. And individual’s probability of falling ill would be dependent primarily on whether he/ she has been exposed to the virus or not. For example, a person who mostly works from home with minimal contact with outside world would have a lower probability of contracting the virus as compared to one who travels for work.
- Do a risk analysis- A quick self-analysis to evaluate your risk of falling ill. Ask yourself these three questions
- Is there any reason to think that I am sick ?
- Are there cases where I am living ?
- If there are, have I come in contact with them ?
- Follow a risk management plan- A lot of communicable diseases can be prevented by making a few behavioural changes. Try and figure out the things that you can do most effectively such as
- Wash/ sanitise hands frequently
- Maintain distance from others
- Avoid becoming a risk to others if you are sick
- Follow official recommendations- Aligning preventive practices with official recommendations is necessary. In the current scenario, lockdowns are being recommended all over the world.
Being at home throughout the day is bound to create a sense of discomfort with a barrage of negative thoughts. The most effective way of coping would be :
- Stick to a routine rather than engaging in ruminations. Plan each day in advance, make daily goals for yourself (for example, work, hobbies, interests, family time, etc.) and focus on accomplishing them. This would give you a sense of achievement and help in controlling pessimistic thoughts.
- Maintain your health with nutritious diet, exercise and sleep. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.
- Find practical ways to relax such as simple exercises like deep breathing, stretching, meditation, etc.
- Talk to your loved ones and share your concerns.
Maintaining one’s mental health is of the utmost priority at the moment. Several mental health professionals are providing tele counselling services to assist people in adjusting with the situation and alleviating their distress. We, at Samvedna Care are completely devoted to help you cope with your stress, fears and anxiety. Please feel free to reach out to us in case of any mental health needs. We are here for you.