The current COVID-19 outbreak has yielded many unprecedented challenges for everyone around the globe. The instability and uncertainty due to COVID-19 infection have the potential to increase stress, anxiety and depression. These factors would lead to the onset of new and pre-existing serious mental health issues.
Lockdowns, Quarantine and Self-isolation around the globe is a cue reminder that how we should be mindful of our mental health and of others!
Stress Management During Lockdown!
Mental Health is still a stigma in our society. However, from the past few years, positive change towards its acceptance is observed. This sudden outbreak of COVID-19 is affecting the mental health of individuals in a number of ways. This pandemic is creating major distress for the general public and putting quite a strain on the Healthcare Sector due to the increasing number of patients.
Behavioural and Psychological Reactions Due to Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreak!
Severe behavioural and psychological reactions are common during “Infectious Disease Outbreaks”. The signs and symptoms of these reactions are:
- Feeling insecure
- Worrying about personal safety and of beloved ones
- Insomnia or difficulty in sleeping
- Difficulty in concentrating and body aches
- Changing patterns of eating habits
- Difficulty in sleeping and concentrating
- Deteriorating chronic health conditions
- Increased use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs
- Anxiety and Depression due to the increased flow of news
- Increased distress due to High Exposure to Social Media Content which can be merely dramatic in Nature and may comprise rumours and misinformation.
- Guilt for not being able to perform work or any other duty due to Lockdown/quarantine or self-isolation etc.
“Everyone reacts differently to coping with stress and stressful situations. How you respond towards it depends upon your lifestyle, your background, family, friends, work, the things that make you different from others and even the society you live in”.
Is Coping with Stress the Same for Everyone?
No. It is not the same for everyone! Due to COVID-19 specific individuals may find it hard to control stress and thus suffer more from anxiety and depression. These specific individuals include
- Children and Teenagers
- Older people
- People with Pre-existing Mental Illness
- People with a history of substance/drug use
- People such as healthcare workers and others who are on the frontline fighting this infectious disease.
Stress Management Strategies!
Stress during an outbreak is common but continuous stress can be harmful so stress management is necessary. There are different ways to deal with stress. Some people have good stress management skills while others find it hard to cope with stress. So, here are few stress management strategies that will help you during this COVID-19 Lockdown.
- Self-Care! Firstly, take proper care of yourself and your family, this will help you cope with stress. Add immune-boosting foods to your diet for a healthy body and a healthy mind.
- Medication for those with Pre-Existing Mental Health Issues! People with pre-existing mental health issues should continue with medication and should be aware of new or worsening symptoms.
- Help Others! Help others to cope with stress can not only give you mental satisfaction but can make a community stronger as well.
- Engage in Stress Management Activities! On a personal level, you can opt for many stress management activities to support yourself in dealing with stress during this outbreak.
- Avoid Excess Media Exposure! Avoid watching, listening and reading the news or TV shows that can make you feel restless.
- Specify Time for Situation Updates! Seek updated information only at specific times, too much information and non-stop news can lead to more stress.
- Declutter yourself from Social Media! Declutter yourself from social media for a time. Social media can be good at times but considering the current situation, it is also a source of havoc and misinformation.
- Personal Hygiene! Wash your hands regularly but not excessively. Make sure to take care of your oral hygiene during the pandemic as well.
- Try Spiritual exercise! Take proper care of your body. Take a deep breath, meditate and pray. Various studies show that spiritual exercises help relax the mind.
- Exercise! Do some stretching exercise. Try some moderate exercises. This is an effective stress management skill.
- Talk about Anxiety! If you are having anxiety, talk to someone whom you trust. It helps in coping with mental stress.
- Healthy Nutritious Diet! Eat healthy, nutritious and well-balanced meals.
- Take Sufficient Sleep! Sleep more often. Study shows that on average sleep between 7 to 9 hrs is recommended for an individual for good mental health.
- Alert! Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption.
- Engage yourself in healthy activities that do not involve Social Media
- Books are your Best Friend! Read a good book. A study at the University of Sussex reported that Reading can reduce stress by up to 68%. Reading also proved to be a better, easier and faster method to cope with stress as compared to drinking tea or listening to music.
- Quality Time with Family! Spend quality time with family. Talk about your concerns and feelings with the people whom you trust.
- Connect with Friends! You may be disconnected physically due to lockdown/quarantine/self-isolation. But you can connect with your friends with whom you haven’t talked due to your busy routine. Now is the time to connect with them! Study shows that time spent with friends can help to cope with stress, boost self-esteem, happiness and improve self-worth.
- Free Online Courses! Try free online courses. There are many free and easily available online courses.
- Play Video Games! Playing video games is beneficial for Mental Health. Various studies have shown that people who play video games have good mind skills, IQ and are able to deal with stressful situations easily.
- Cook! Learn to cook. This will give you a sense of Achievement. Baking on the other hand in various studies proves to a Stress Releaser.
- Play with Colours! Yes, a colouring book is becoming one of the popular technique in releasing Stress and Anxiety. Now, many colour books are easily available to people of all age groups.
Stress Management Activities for Children and Teenagers!
Children and Teenagers are more prone to stress or anxiety during such pandemic because they are still in the growing stage. They may find it difficult to understand such Outbreaks. There are many stress management activities for children.
- This outbreak and lockdown will be a change of environment for the children and teenagers. Therefore, sit with them to share facts and answer their questions about this COVID-19 in an understanding manner.
- Make them realize that it is okay to feel upset and support them that they are safe.
- They will learn to cope with stress easily if you share your experience and knowledge about how you deal with your own anxiety or stress.
- Limit the media and news exposure to the children as it may frighten them with the fear of the unknown.
- Keep a check on their Social Media Exposure.
- Due to lockdown, the schools are closed so try to engage them in healthy, fun learning activities at home and appreciate them when they learn a new skill.
- Last but not the least, Be a role model for them because children learn more by what you do instead of what you say. This will help children in proper growth and nourishment.
Stress Management Strategies for the Healthcare Workers and Other Who Are On Frontline Due to COVID-19:
In addition to the aforementioned activities and strategies to cope with stress, healthcare workers and others who are on the frontline battling with COVID-19 Outbreak should also take care of themselves.
These are a few additional tips for them
- First and foremost take care of yourself and others to meet the basic needs of a healthy body and mind. Eat, Sleep and Hydrate yourself Regularly!
- Take a break. Relax and then resume the work. It can be a helpful distraction for the mind.
- Stay connected with the family and friends to cope with the stress and the feeling of being alone.
- Stay updated regarding the outbreak. Rely only on authentic and trusted sources of information.
- Keep a check on yourself. If you are having signs and symptoms of stress or anxiety then talk to a trusted family member, a friend, or even a peer if needed.
- Don’t forget to remind yourself and others, the honour service you are giving.
- Lastly, Recognize and Boost the morale of fellow workers because stress management in the workplace is necessary.
Hope these stress management strategies will help you cope with stress. Remember it’s normal to stress and get anxious in outbreaks. Be mindful of your mental health and of others.
When in need of help don’t shy away from seeking help from a Psychologist or Psychiatrist.