The name makes one think of physical health and safety. It may bring up feelings of disease and illness. Televised news is solely focussed on this, social media is swarming with people who are expressing their fears and anxiety. So what is missing? A focus on how all of this is impacting the mental health of everyone involved – which is everyone!
There are people who have diagnosed OCD focussed on germs, hypochondriacs, hoarders, health anxiety disorders and others who may be suffering psychologically from this contagious panic more than the average person.
The term “social distancing’ has become a battle cry towards pushing others away in a way that makes you feel safe. As social activities, self-care practices,school/ college routines and daily schedules are cancelled and life’s rhythm has changed people are grasping at something to feel a sense of normalcy. Statistically most of us are all right physically however the lasting impact will be on our mental health and relationships. When we are experiencing stress, anxiety and sleep disturbances our immune systems can weaken, this is a crucial reason why focussing on our state of mind at this time is so important. People need love and support during this time. They are scared of both the virus and the responses they may get at reaching out.
Some suggestions of ways that we can focus on our mental health are:
1.create a sense of normalcy and routine in your day.
2. take a moment each day to focus on the big picture .
3.accept that some days you may not be “okay”.
4. set boundaries and take space within your own home.
5.limit your exposure to news and the topic of COVID19 to 30 minutes to obtain necessary information.
6.avoid toxic interactions and information.
7.practice self care daily( exercise, sleep hygiene, eating healthy etc)
8.talk to your counsellor if you need emotional support.
9.engage in a hobby.
10.stay connected to your support systems.
11.do not send unproductive posts, emails or texts of panic and alarm to others.
12. do not forget to laugh – humour can be the best medicine.
This is unchartered territory for our country and for the world and we do not know how long we will remain in this situation. Hence we need to increase awareness and focus on the psychological aspects of COVID 19 that are impacting us in lasting ways.