Mental stability and lockdown
The society at large is pushed to function in a very different way that the mind is attuned to over last few decades. People were constantly pushed to out perform in their jobs, keep believing to dream more and want more by the capitalist agenda, more the merrier agenda ingrained in the communities resulting in very minimal investment into more mundane things like human relationships, family interactions, empathy, interpersonal bonds etc.
The current period of lockdown is going to challenge the human psyche of every being. The mental health burden is going to be higher in groups with preexisting medical conditions (diabetes, hypertension, asthma), pre-existing psychiatric/psychological disorders, substance use disorders, immunocompromised individuals etc. This would cause mental health symptoms like higher rates of anxiety, nervousness, fear of contaminating with the illness, repeated washing of hands, constant reassurance seeking behaviors, panic attacks, sleep disturbance, excessive worry, feeling helplessness, social isolation etc. Nevertheless, general population is also at higher risk of vulnerability to mental health challenges due to numerous reasons. Most of these could be boredom, extensive exposure to COVID-19 related information, poor demarcation of work-life, limitation on choice of leisure activities, limited options in one’s usual routine, fear of infection leading to compulsive cleaning rituals, uncertainity about future regarding major fronts- job, finances and family well-being and lack of personal space.
The ability with which every individual shall adapt to the needs and necessities will determine the mental stability and the resultant state of well-being. The adaptability requires openness to experience, being mindful about oneself, learning to focus on current moment than to anticipate the problems after, building effective communication strategies with family members, embracing distress and addressing interpersonally etc.
In periods of crises, the mind will invest predominantly in survival strategies which is often not guided by the morality, rules and regulations of the social fabric. Thus, the individuals can engage in behaviours which are self-centred, harm avoidant, protective, in the form of hoarding things to safe guard self and family, self-harm behaviours, mass migration to their homes from cities etc.
Denial of the problem will only bring more complicated challenges. The healthy and mature way of dealing with the current crisis starts with acceptance.
-Acknowledging the distress will help in preparing better
-Practice mindfulness by focussing on TODAY than TOMMOROW
- Focus on what is in your control such as maintaining physical (proper sleep, eating right food, cleanliness) and psychological hygiene (emotional regulation, emotional expression etc.)
- Practice ‘Social Distancing’, NOT ‘Emotional Distancing”. Keep yourself connected with your loved ones via digital platforms.
- Engage in group activities with family members- play indoor games, work out together etc.
- Fairly divide the household responsibilities amongst each other to avoid over burdening of one member
-Transparent communication of distress with loved ones
-Exhibit empathy and active listening towards others when they are sharing their distress. Avoid judgments and critical comments. Be supportive to each other.
-Avoid panic as that is contagious too.
Altruistic behavior in today’s situation is the key to make it easy for oneself and others. Altruism encourages you to make others feel good and create a sense of belongingness in the current situation of lockdown. An act of kindness wont end the problem but will unite us to help each other maintain our mental stability in the current times.
Consultant Clinical Psychologist
Fortis Hospitals, Bannerghatta Road
With 56 hospitals across the nation and over 10,000 beds, Fortis Healthcare Limited is a leading integrated healthcare delivery service provider in India. For over 26 years, Fortis Hospitals have been committed to the cause of getting people back to their lives faster and stronger.