Mental Health During Quarantine
COVID-19 has brought with it demanding challenges. From individual health concerns to fear for our loved ones, job insecurity to procuring essential food supplies, it has exposed the vulnerabilities of our society in dealing with such a pandemic. The entire situation is indeed overwhelming physically and psychologically. While we cope in distress, adapting to the "new normal,” the effect on the mind can be complexly profound.
Being secluded in quarantine alone can be a mental and emotional rollercoaster. Amongst other psychological manifestations, it can present as fear, anger, insomnia, confusion, stress, irritability, depressive symptoms, and emotional exhaustion. This feeling of impending doom leads to a great deal of concern and many unanswered questions.
Compiling comprehensive research, The Lancet review elaborates on the stressors that contribute to the psychological impact of quarantine on an individual. These include:
§ Long duration of quarantine leading to post-traumatic stress symptoms, avoidance behavior and anger
§ Fear of getting infected as well as infecting others especially family members
§ Frustration and boredom due to alteration of daily routine, feeling isolated and decreased social networking
§ Lack of adequate essential supplies like food, water, accommodation, medical care generating anger and anxiety
§ Insufficient clarity in the quarantine guidelines from public health authorities and a lack of transparency from government health officials
§ Financial insecurity, as a result of losing employment exacerbated by absent long-term planning creating severe socioeconomic distress
§ The social stigma attached to being quarantined caused by fear and suspicion or even indifference on part of the general public
It is apparent that while facing COVID-19, most of us will be mentally affected; some more than others. As an individual stuck at home, you can follow these practical and straightforward measures that will keep you going:
Do not sit still, move around: Any form of moderate exercise that you prefer like working out, running, gardening or even dancing to your favorite tune can not only benefit your body, but it's a great refresher for your mind. It is a known fact that exercise releases endorphins, a 'happy hormone', that not only relieves pain but also your stress levels. In addition, a healthy diet leads to a reduction in lethargy.
Talk it out: Regular communication holds the key to share your mental burdens with others. Albeit, meeting in person with your friends for a prolonged period is not recommended at this time, chatting over the phone and social media can be a helpful tool that makes you feel that life is still good with your people around.
Create your routine and follow it: Make a daily routine suitable to you, including the tasks that hold priority. A schedule will give your day a purpose and keep you busy enough, preventing the tendency to think negatively. Try to vary your routine every day to avoid monotony.
Do not overburden yourself with the News: While staying informed on the status quo of the pandemic is essential; too much information can be stressful. If you try to keep a tab on things at every moment, you will more than likely find yourself overwhelmed by the situation. Give yourself regular breaks from all the news coming in, to ease your mind. More importantly, only trust information acquired through reputable sources.
Try a new hobby: Probably one of the few benefits of staying at home is that you now have some extra time that you always wanted. Use that time constructively; do those things you wanted to but could never fit in with your work schedule. Several online resources are available at your fingertips, from learning a guitar to a new language if you are willing.
Try to stay positive: It is, of course, easier said than done; but if you expose your mind to happy thoughts, it can do wonders. There is enough negativity around now, any more of it can only be detrimental to someone’s already fragile mindsets. Surround yourself with positive people, meditate, watch comedy over the television; cheer yourself up and keep the hope alive.
We live in unprecedented times; it is now more than ever that we, as a community, must put up a united front. It is important, to seek care at the earliest if you feel alone or emotionally distraught. There are readily available resources and support groups, that help in coping with mental stress and anxiety.
Remember, we are in this together, today and for the road ahead. Whenever you feel alone – reach out.
For CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommended guideline for coping with stress, click here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html.
By: Suramya Sharma
§ Brooks, S. K., Webster, R. K., Smith, L. E., Woodland, L., Wessely, S., Greenberg, N., & Rubin, G. J. (2020). The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid review of the evidence. The Lancet, 0(0). https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30460-8
§ CDC. (2020, February 11). Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html
§ Dickerson, D. (2020). Seven tips to manage your mental health and well-being during the COVID-19 outbreak. Nature, (26 March 2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-020-00933-5
§ Holland, K. (2020, May 8). What COVID-19 Is Doing to Our Mental Health. Retrieved from Healthline website: https://www.healthline.com/health-news/what-covid-19-is-doing-to-our-mental-health