Mental health during Quarantine – Shikha Doshi
Living in New York, the epicentre of a pandemic, I know how situations wreak emotional and psychological chaos in your life, and I know this from personal experience. As [flattening the curve] curbing the spread of this pandemic seems to be the only viable solution, social distancing and “stay at home” have become the current trends. Entire countries, cities and lives across the globe have come to a standstill.
It is difficult to live in isolation from worldly things. Things like “fresh air”, “sunlight”, eating at restaurants, going for a jog etc. All this feels like a disruption in normalcy and routine. During this period, people often feel unsure, anxious and in some cases, secular ;-). Even if you live with a friend or family, staying around the same people for this long a “tenure” can be overwhelming. This mixed feeling of uncertainty, tensity and secularity leads to various health-related issues. Largely, people suffer from insomnia and low immunity.
In addition to that, it also causes different mental health issues that you might feel for a shorter or longer period. The variety of emotions that you would be feeling right now could include Fear, Sadness, Anger, Depression, Anxiety, and Frustration. The latter two might persist during, or sometimes even after the quarantine. (Especially due to a longer quarantine period).
There are various factors that can influence this kind of behaviour :
- Frustration and boredom caused by prolonged isolation, -This involves an upheaval in your routine professional and social life.
- Inadequate supplies and access to medical care, -Panic-storing of food and medicines as a necessity by a majority of people may lead to a lack of supply and eventually illegal price gouging.
- Too little or too much information from unreliable sources, -Now, this could be due to bad coordination between government and health care units. That said, too little information can get you in serious trouble as you may end up taking ineffective or counteractive medication. This can also happen if you are exposed to too much information, as Google can be confusing many times.
- Fear of getting infected or infecting others, -Most of us have known and experienced this one.
- Social Stigma, Stigmatization and rejection by neighbours, -co-workers, friends, and even family members manifest a feeling of being treated differently or being avoided.
- Financial loss, -Absence from work, cost of medication and healthcare, and other unanticipated financial burdens result in economic disturbance and stress.
There could be many such symptoms that you are facing right now, and recognizing them is the first step towards improving your mental health!
The only problem is that with this state of mind you might initiate a plan but with all those overwhelming feelings you might fail to convert it into a routine. This might bring despair and guilt but let me tell you,
I believe in this quote by Margaret Thatcher: “You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”
Here are some suggestions to improve your mental health: meditate, exercise, cook, create a new habit, pursue your passion. However, if these are things you are not being able to follow, here are some new things that you can try :
- Fight boredom and frustration :
Being at home all day, and lack of routine life leaves you with too much time to binge-watch series on Netflix or any other streaming service. However, by now you would have realized that binge-watching will only bore and frustrate you after some point. So try to be creative with your time. Various activities like reading and playing games which can be enjoyed with family and friends. You can also hook yourself into solo activities such as cooking, crafting, or going through an online course could definitely help you to be more efficient and lively.
- Communicate :
Communication with friends and family is critical right now to combat the sense of isolation. Also, talk to neighbours on a call or video chat and help each other while maintaining a safe distance. Make online groups and give small tasks to each other. Share the positive sense of completing that task. Talk to people around you, share your feelings. Talking to others who are going through the same thing can provide a sense of community and empowerment.
- Breathing Exercises:
Exercise is something you should definitely do during this period. It is possible that in this current state it could be something that you hate or are not able to do at all. In that case, I would suggest you do some basic breathing exercises. Especially when you feel anxious, frustrated or afraid, take a break and do this much: Take 3 to 5 deep breaths to bring all your focus to the present moment. Try not to recollect past happenings that bring pain to you or make you feel uneasy. This will help you bring the calm-and-composed feeling back, slowly and steadily.
- Take a break from work:
If you’re working from home and it is getting too hard to focus, it is important to take a break and shift to something lighter like drawing a doodle may be, having a coffee, reading a nice blog (like this one) or watching a fun Youtube video.
- Manage your food :
It is important to manage food in order to have resources for a long time but that’s not the only reason to do so. Being at home, we get bored and tend to eat more food. Now as we have less activity at home, it becomes necessary to eat in correct proportions. Eating food in small quantities and drinking beverages like coffee or herbal tea during snack time help you maintain health and a good mood. People tend to eat even when they are thirsty (trust me, I did!), not realizing what the body actually needs, so please keep a track of water intake.
- Plan it at night:
If you are not able to plan a routine for the long term, try to plan your routine on the previous night. Before you sleep tonight, give 15 minutes to your tomorrow. Have a rough idea of all the things that you want to do the next day. If needed, make a list of those things. For example, think about making all those dishes that you have been meaning to make. This will give you a good reason to get up from bed on time. Also, after completing one task you would not have to think hard about what to do next.
- Working bit by bit:
Instead of planning what new things to include in your routine, just think about the tasks you were procrastinating to do and go through them one by one. If a task is too boring for you, it would be difficult to start with. The key factor is to start that task. Once that is done, you will definitely be able to get something out of it. It is completely fine to fail at a task. It is nothing to feel bad about. In fact, I believe this is the time to keep trying to succeed while learning from your mistakes and failures. Not trying, or giving up is a failure.
8). Stay informed, do not let it overwhelm you
Numbers are Powerful.
They give you an idea of:
- Which range of ages affected are more at risk.
- Increase/ decrease in spread
- How safe it is to go outside
The statistics of people affected and dying are really overwhelming. These numbers, however, are necessary for authorities to plan further steps and for you to understand why those steps are taken. As good as it is to stay informed, it’s not good to keep watching cable news all day long or to focus on inaccurate or overly negative information. Try to get news from some reliable source like your CDC or WHO.
Going out and exploring different places, cultures and food is one of the best parts of life; something that we all love. Having said that, the times are different now and options are seriously limited but not precluded. Being at home reading history and books about various cultures, taking up that online course you always wanted to, developing new skills and exploring different kinds of music can still bring fun into your life.
Things that you loved but discontinued can still be re-established. I loved colouring, craft and writing. For me, it was on a hiatus due to various reasons. But today I got a chance to revive those passions. So I started with craftwork. The pieces didn’t come out as good, but they still give a different kind of satisfaction.
After a long break, I’m writing a blog. I appreciate you taking your time to read it. I also thank Dhara for giving me this opportunity.
As days go by, the number of people being affected by covid19 increases. Sure, there is a tally to keep track of covid19, but nobody is keeping track of the people suffering from mental stress at home due to isolation.
To survive is to live. Every day I find myself doing different things which keeps me sane. Keep your head and hopes up, because this epidemic pandemic should not hold you back from anything in life.