The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on our mental health, apart from the physical ramifications. This has triggered a host of new challenges and deepened existing issues. Hear from the founders of The Psychology Nook – Sneha and Monali — how we can build our emotional resilience in these times.

What are some ways to ease mental woes during a pandemic?

Sneha Deolankar is the founder of The Psychology Nook. She is a Pune based psychologist, and certified counsellor. She has done her Masters in Clinical Psychology from the Department of Psychology, Pune University. She is also a Visual Art Therapy Facilitator. 

Monali Patil, co-founder of The Pyschology Nook, is a Bangalore based psychologist, and certified counsellor. She has  finished her Masters in Clinical Psychology from IGNOU.  She has a Post Graduate Diploma in Counselling from the Maharashtra Institute of Mental Health and Sassoon General Hospital, Pune.

A coronavirus-induced lockdown has hugely impacted our psychological well-being. Not being able to physically move outside our home, maintaining social distancing when outside the home and a sudden and drastic alteration to our daily routine has led to the loss of our sanity. How do we cope with this new normal? 

Recognize feelings of fear, anxiety, sadness, and uncertainty are normal during a pandemic. Fortunately, being proactive about your mental health can help to keep both your mind and body stronger. 

Expert psychologists Monali and Sneha provide us with the following tips to manage our feelings and cope with these difficult circumstances. We need to build our emotional resilience while dealing with the COVID-19 crisis and have a positive frame of mind. 

Practice self care: Feeling the breeze blow gently through the trees, savouring that morning cup of tea, or simply curling up in the favorite corner of the house with that favorite novel: these simple acts help promote “me time” which is crucial for self care. You can always schedule ten minutes to one hour of each day to do an activity that you not only like to do but one that disengages you from your hectic routine. 

Maintain a realistically positive attitude: Find opportunities to strengthen positive and hopeful stories of people who have experienced COVID-19. For example, stories of people who have recovered or who have supported a loved one and are willing to share their experience. You can also note down the positive things that are happening despite the pandemic like getting more time for hobbies or your family. Sometimes we all need a reminder to put the positive in perspective. 

Show gratitude: Honour healthcare workers supporting people affected with COVID-19 in your community/area. Acknowledge the role they are playing in saving lives and keeping your loved ones safe. Show your gratitude to other essential workers like the watchmen or your maids who are risking their lives in order to normalise yours. 

Maintain a support system: Staying connected is the key to emotional well-being. Reduce social isolation and provide structure to your day through video conferences or tele-calling. Loneliness can weaken our immune system. Research reveals that loneliness and social isolation can have a direct adverse effect on health, such as impaired immunity, depression, poor sleep quality, and poor cardiovascular health. 

Seek the help of a psychologist: Chronic stress can affect our mental well-being to a great extent. If you are experiencing stress for a prolonged period, it is important to seek professional help. This should be the last point 

Keep yourself engaged: Utilize the time you’re spending at home by catching up with friends over a Zoom call, pursuing a hobby you like, or doing just about anything that creates happy vibes inside you. Distraction helps to put your mind at ease. 

Practice mindfulness to reduce stress: Mindfulness can act as an effective stress management tool training the mind to respond and not react to situations. With daily practice, it helps to manage stress effectively. It also helps us in staying in the “now” instead of the past or future which may provoke anxiety or worry filled thoughts. 

Be mindful of Caregiver Stress: If you’re a caregiver to someone, the lockdown can lead to an increased amount of stress. A Caregiver’s Stress Syndrome is a condition characterized by physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. Self care is extremely important. If you don’t fill your cup first, how will you pour into another’s? 

Reach out to a psychologist for help or speak to a doctor to discuss the symptoms and ways to relieve stress. 

Don’t bombard yourself with the news: A constant stream of negative news reports about an outbreak can cause anyone to feel anxious or distressed. Seek updates and practical guidance at specific times during the day from health professionals and WHO websites and avoid listening to or paying heed to rumors that make you feel uncomfortable. The key to emotional health is learning to manage stress effectively through simple changes in our everyday life. 

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment.

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