Mental health during the lockdown amidst COVID-19

To save you, people, the trouble of searching the internet for data related to what are the implications of the coronavirus and the lockdown on mental health and what can be done to combat that, we at NSS IIT Delhi, have tried to pick useful data from the following links which you may enjoy reading and implementing.

Lockdown is the world’s biggest psychological experiment

(Taking a look at the situation globally)

Currently, an estimated 2.6 billion people – one-third of the world’s population – is living under some kind of lockdown or quarantine. This is arguably the largest psychological experiment ever conducted. 

People who are quarantined are very likely to develop a wide range of symptoms of psychological stress and disorder, including low mood, insomnia, stress, anxiety, anger, irritability, emotional exhaustion, depression and post-traumatic stress symptoms. Low mood and irritability specifically stand out as being very common, the study notes.

The second epidemic and setting up the second tent online.

We know this from many examples, ranging from absenteeism in military units after deployment in risk areas, companies that were close to Ground Zero in 9/11 and medical professionals in regions with outbreaks of Ebola, SARS and MERS. 

Isolation and mental health: the psychological impact of lockdown

(This is more focused on what is happening inside the country)

A review published recently in Lancet, which studied the psychological impact of quarantine during previous epidemics such as SARS, found proof of a range of conditions.

Photo: Getty Images/ iStock

As you grow older, says Dr. Murthy, a routine becomes important, and any disruption leads to anxiety. In Hyderabad, Zubair Ahmed, 71, and his wife Rahima, 65, find the comfort they drew from their daily walks and chatting with friends all but lost. “It’s been seven years since our son left home, but it’s only now that we feel lonely,” says Ahmed.

Photo: Getty Images/ iStock

While NIMHANS has set up a helpline to reach out to patients, States like Kerala have set up helplines to tele-counsel people in quarantine. The calls have been increasing: last Saturday, for instance, 7,000 calls were made, and the government has employed an army of over 700 counsellors. 

Staying close to the family doesn’t mean the same for everyone. For people with dysfunctional family dynamics, such as an abusive partner or domineering parents, staying at home is a trigger for anxiety. “It has left many susceptible to relapse of clinical depression,” Kolkata-based psychologist Charvi Jain says. In this case, it becomes even more important to pay attention to your mental health.

9 Practices To Help Maintain Mental Health During The Coronavirus Lockdown

Have a routine (as much as you can)

We know how important routine is, especially for kids, under normal conditions. And when schools are closed and many people are working from home or told to stay at home, it might feel like all bets are off. But it’s actually much better for everyone’s mental health to try to keep a routine going, as much as possible.

Another reason is that keeping a routine reduces “decision fatigue,” the overwhelm and exhaustion that can come from too many options. So in the morning, rather than wondering whether to start work or help the kids with their online learning, it’s better to know what you’re going to do—make a schedule that everyone can get on board with, and try to stick with it (as much as is possible—don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t always work, and it’s sure not to work some days). This will free up some mental bandwidth during this time of uncertainty, which is already straining everyone’s cognitive capacities. 

Start an at-home exercise routine

Working out at home in these times is obviously a good way to stay healthy and kill indoor time. There are lots of options, from the 21st century ones (Peloton and MIRROR) to the old-fashioned ones (workout videos and the dusty hand weights in your closet). Many online workout sources are offering free access or longer free trial periods during this time, which might be worth looking into. But again, anything that gets your heart pumping or builds muscle is excellent for both physical and mental health

Declutter your home

Working on your home if you have time can be a good way to feel productive and in control (see caveat down below though). “Take the opportunity of the extra time by decluttering, cleaning or organizing your home,” says Serani, referencing the book Trauma-Informed Care. “Studies say the predictability of cleaning not only offers a sense of control in the face of uncertainty, but also offers your mind body and soul a respite from traumatic stress.” 

Meditate, or just breathe 

But if meditation isn’t for you, just breathing slowly might be. Controlled breathing has been used for millennia to calm the mind—and a study a few years ago showed the mechanism that might explain it. Knocking this area out made mice uncharacteristically calm—and the team believe that slow breathing might also tap into this area of the brain and have the same effect. 

The researchers also point out that slow breathing is used “clinically to suppress excessive arousal and stress such as certain types of panic attacks,” which is nothing to sneeze at. So trying some controlled breath work (there are good resources for this online) may be an especially healthy idea these days. 

Woman breathing fresh air outdoors in summer

Maintain community and social connection 

As mentioned, we’re fundamentally social creatures, and during crises it’s natural to want to gather. Social connectivity is the perhaps the greatest determinant of well-being there is, as this landmark 80-year-long study from Harvard reported, and one of our most basic psychological needs. Texting and social media are okay, but picking up the phone and talking or videoconferencing, is much better. 

Practice gratitude 

This is not the easiest thing to do in these times, particularly if you’ve felt the more brutal effects of the pandemic, like job or business loss, or illness. But practicing gratitude for the things we do have has been shown again and again to be hugely beneficial to mental health. For instance, in one of the first key studies on the subject, the researchers found that writing down five things one was grateful just once a week was significantly linked to increased well-being. 

Let yourself off the hook 

The might be the most important thing to keep in mind—don’t beat yourself up when things are not going perfectly in your household. On top of everything else, being upset with yourself is totally counterproductive. 

Remember, good mental status in the difficult times may win you the battle more easily! 

Also, we strongly suggest you to go through the guidelines, ideas and helpline numbers given by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India to get more information on the lockdown and its implications on mental health.

Compiled from sources listed below by – Ishaan Jain

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