Why Do We need To Take Care of Mental Health?

by Fayaz Ahmad Paul

Coronavirus, an infection has dominated the world. From media to market, it has engulfed the spaces across. Since its occurrence in December 2019 and later global spread, the pandemic not only has put survival in danger but also impacted the global economy and our day-to-day lives. In between a normal daily life has come to a standstill, mental health has been hit. Prioritization of routine in difficult times has to lead to a spike in anxiety and depression.

Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences Kashmir (IMHANS)

As we receive constant updates about new cases, the death toll, economic breakdown, layoffs, it at times could be extremely overwhelming. Moreover, rumours and speculation can add fuel to anxiety. While it is important to be informed about the pandemic and latest public health measures, it is also essential to ensure that we don’t absorb everything. Finding a balance is imperative and beneficial would be to go through authentic content, as published by WHO, NHS, and other expert websites. Being in touch continuously with such kind of stuff takes a toll. Need is to limit the exposure.

While understanding the various terms related to the pandemic, it is wise to understand them properly. New to the scene at such a large level, there is often confusion. We have seen terms like ‘self-isolation’, ‘social distancing’ and ‘quarantine’ are used interchangeably. One who practices social distancing says he has put himself into self-quarantine. Similarly, the ones in isolation feel to be quarantined. The difference exists and it is important to understand the same.

Social-distancing is the avoidance of unnecessary contact. A way to reduce transmission, this involves the strategy of avoiding contacts with others, no non-essential travel, avoid gatherings. While as self-isolation, on the other hand, refers to individuals who are isolating themselves due to potential exposure to Coronavirus and can include people with or without symptoms of infection. This is self-imposed and includes not going outside, avoiding public transport, no more visitors at home and the term ‘Quarantine’ can often be scary but is an effective method used by the government to stop the spread of contagious diseases such as Coronavirus. Quarantine is a system to contain the spread. People who have been exposed to the virus but are asymptomatic are sent for quarantine. This is different to ‘isolation’, which is a term reserved for individuals who may or may not be contagious.

A Viral Vocabulary

We should understand that any term used wrongly can have a negative connotation. A feeling of fear can emanate and we may have confusion. The chaos can turn scary. No matter in which state we are, there is a way out, a possible solution.

At home, there could be different ways to stay connected. Phone calls, video calls, gardening, exercise, pick up a new hobby, experiment with cooking, reading a book or watching movies.

Fayaz Ahmad Paul

It is evident that there would be the impact of self-isolation on mental health – a sense of social deprivation. In these trying circumstances, it is important to develop a positive outlook on life. Look after yourself and the people in your surroundings. Developing a routine and sticking to it religiously. Get up in the morning, take a shower, eat breakfast, get dressed and take a quick walk before going for work.  In case of stay at home, a routine should be developed to remain busy and take regular breaks.

Looking after our mental health is of extreme importance in general but is especially imperative now during the Coronavirus outbreak. Stay connected to your loved ones through different modes. Be kind to yourself is the key and that would eventually help in managing others as well.

Let us have hope that we will get through all of this together.

(The author is a research scholar at Government Medical College and Hospital, Department of psychiatry. Ideas expressed in the write-up are personal)


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