In the first LIVE Session of #SafeSpaces, Mandira Bedi and eminent clinical psychologist Dr. Prerna Kohli discuss how the quarantine due to coronavirus has affected all areas of our lives. They talk about how the constant flood of news on the pandemic can feel never-ending and share self-care tips.
According to an Indian Psychiatric Society’s survey, 1 out of 5 persons is suffering from mental health issues arising out of pandemic or from the subsequent lockdown.
Uncertainty due to the pandemic, its unknown financial impact and major lifestyle changes need to be adjusted are some reasons contributing to people’s stress and anxiety. The problems of those already going through anxiety issues have compounded in this period.
Spotting the signs
Some kinds of emotions you may go through could be:
- lack of motivation,
- low energy for routine things
- some may have palpitations or breathlessness
- Some may wake up in the middle of the night worrying about impending events.
- Some could have irritability, anger issues or bad stomach/digestions.
These are some of the tell-tale signs of stress and anxiety.
Bringing yourself to the present
There are some techniques that help keep the anxiety and stress away.
- One great way to keep is to practise mindfulness. This can be achieved by meditation, chanting or even exercise. These activities help you to attain focus and concentration.
- Another technique is doing some yoga exercises like the bumblebee (humming).
Self-care during the new normal of WFH
Self-care doesn’t mean you are being selfish. It simply means taking yourself first so that you are in a better position to care for others.
- As Work From Home (WFH) becomes the norm, we are in a confined space with our families and there may not be enough space for everybody but it’s important to practice self-care
- Look after yourself and set a routine for yourself about when you sleep, wake up, eat and watch entertainment
- Increase your communication with your family to make everyone aware of everybody’s routine. This ensures no family members disturb each other.
Dealing with anger, irritability
You must acknowledge and accept that there exists an anger issue. We have a pandemic going on due to which we are in a lockdown. The calmer we are, the better place we will be to make certain choices.
- Learning to be flexible and adaptable will help you manage your emotions.
- All of us are confined to our homes so now is the best time to use technology to connect with each other. Use video calling to learn new hobbies like dancing, music or even playing antakshari so you feel connected and not frustrated or lonely.
- When you connect with others – you will find a safe space because you find out that everyone is going through similar things. It helps you feel less lonely, frustrated and irritated.
Dealing with job insecurity
Insecurity about jobs and work is real, but you need to focus on what you can control.
- The only thing we can control during such a period is increasing our skillset.
- Understand that thoughts are not always facts. The language we use is important – how are you talking to your mind? How are you putting it in a calmer space? Dwelling on ‘what ifs’ will only increase your anxiety.
- Another way is to externalize your anxiety where you tell yourself “Anxiety is making me feel awful and I would deal with it by maybe reading a book or doing something else.”
Because when you will feel in control, you will feel a lot calmer and live in the present to enjoy small moments.
Coping with productivity and its pressures
The pressure is good if it propels you to take a positive action but when it feels like things are getting out of control or you start having sleepless nights then it’s stress.
- Focus on being healthy. Not everyone in the pandemic has the privilege to have fun AND productivity.
- People do have a lot on their mind currently so it’s okay if you’re not productive as long as you’re following a routine and looking after yourself.
Value of good sleep for stress & anxiety
Many mental health and sleep experts say that to reduce any mental health issue, you have to give your brain some rest. Seven to eight hours of healthy, peaceful is ideal.
- For good sleep, having a proper routine to sleep and wake up goes a long way. Have a set time to go to sleep and a time to get up.
- Try to avoid reading or watching any kind of startling news or movies because that excites your brain cells
- A good amount of exercise also helps to have restful sleep.
- Another tip is to drink a glass of warm water or milk
- A shower before sleep also helps your muscles relax.
- A good and inviting environment is essential for sleep. When you have colourful bed sheets, clean rugs around your room it creates a happy space that you can associate with good sleep.
- Getting a head massage and doing other activities like listening to calming music, meditation or chanting and deep breathing exercises can also help you have good sleep.
Tips to strengthen your mental immunity
- To handle your stress and anxiety, reduce your intake of caffeine or alcohol. Avoid having caffeine too late in the evenings or a few hours before you sleep.
- Try to get out of bed as soon as you wake up because if you keep lying for longer then anxious thoughts start to overwhelm you first thing in the morning. You can also chant a mantra or say a prayer or even practice gratitude during this time.
- Maintain a gratitude journal and write things you are grateful for every day.
- Practice positive affirmations and creative visualisations. These are positive statements which bring about a change in your thinking and inspire better thoughts.