How to deal with the stress of COVID-19 in the time of lockdowns

We asked Dr Samir Parikh, director of mental health and behavioural sciences, Fortis Healthcare for tips on how to keep stress at bay during this time.

Myupchar March 22, 2020 19:25:05 IST
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How to deal with the stress of COVID-19 in the time of lockdowns

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a press conference on Sunday announced a lockdown in the Capital from 6 am on 23 March (Monday) till midnight on 31 March (a Tuesday) - Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, Faridabad and Noida in the National Capital Region are also in lockdown mode.

As the number of novel coronavirus infections crossed 340 on Sunday evening, over 75 districts across India were getting ready to go into lockdown mode: this includes all of West Bengal which will go into lockdown till 27 March, all of Uttarakhand which will be under lockdown till 31 March, Telangana which will be in lockdown till 31 March and 15 districts in Uttar Pradesh which will observe the minimal activity allowed in lockdown till 25 March (Wednesday).

How to deal with the stress of COVID19 in the time of lockdowns

Representational image. Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay.

Given this climate, it is natural for people to feel a bit anxious about a virus that no one had heard of till late December 2019. We asked Dr Samir Parikh, director of mental health and behavioural sciences, Fortis Healthcare for tips on how to keep stress at bay and do our best to fight the spread of COVID-19 . Edited excerpts:

As the cases of COVID-19 continue to increase, it’s natural for all of us to feel a sense of worry and concern over our own health and safety as well as that of our loved ones. There is, however, a line between precaution and panic, one that we must be careful not to cross. 

We’re all aware that the situation is evolving, but the overload of information and minute by minute updates that we have access to is perhaps one of the greatest reasons for people to feel excessively anxious about the situation. Add to that the rumours and unverified information being spread across social media channels. At this time, remember to moderate your consumption of news to only a couple of verified sources and only once or twice a day. Be mindful of your own actions – don’t mindlessly forward unverified communication. 

In times of social distancing, digital media is probably our greatest strength, but it is our responsibility to use it well. Continue to share stories of strength, hope and positivity in these times. Also remember that social distancing applies to physical distance only, not emotional distance. Stay connected with friends and family via texts, phones and video calls. Share your feelings but also talk about things other than the disease.

It’s also up to us how we spend this time and how to make it most meaningful. While work routines may be disrupted, ensure that you have your own goals for the day and the week. These could involve developing a new skill or finally giving time to that much-neglected hobby. Read books to keep your mind engaged, listen to music to stay relaxed and upbeat, play a board game with your family and catch up with the TV shows and movies you’ve been meaning to watch. 

At the same time, to maintain our well-being, it’s important to stick to a routine. Sleep and wake up at the same time as before. Get ready to start the day. Maintain a dedicated time and uncluttered space to stay updated with your work, training or studies to establish work-life boundaries. Stay connected with your peers.

If you’re struggling with your emotional well-being, remember that there is help available. Talk to your friends or family about how you feel, connect with support groups online or call a stress helpline to help deal with your worries better. 

Most of all, remember that we are all in this together and in the end, that is going to be our greatest strength. The need of the hour is collective social responsibility. Be honest and transparent. Don’t hoard essential supplies. Support people who may depend on you financially. Follow the hygiene guidelines laid down by the World Health Organization and the protocols set forward by the government to tackle the situation. Encourage people in their efforts to self-isolate. We each have a role to play, whether that’s treating patients in the hospital or staying home and keeping ourselves and our families safe – make sure you fulfil your role with sincerity and positivity.

For more tips, read our article on  Coronavirus Infection: Symptoms, types, diagnosis and treatment.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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