It has been over 50 days and more than that the news of the novel coronavirus has entered the world with the first case in December 2019 in China and news of the world started to flood in. Bhutan has been following the news and was in a panic state when the first case was detected on March 6. Bhutanese started to look for the mask, hand-sanitizer, stock the ration at home, and went as far as to vacant the streets. I was reluctant to go to the office, asking my cousin to lock down the business, and was making a plan to travel back home. Moreover, the Bhutanese social media forum started to blame the government for the nation’s state. So mental health is very important during this covid-19 pandemic time.
Thinking through the situation, we needed to care for our mental health more than physical health. Moreover, a few of the research work has shown that ongoing stress makes us susceptible to illness and disease because the brain sends defense signals to the endocrine system which then releases an array of hormones that not only gets us ready for emergency situations but severely depresses our immunity at the same time.
Stress and anxiety at a certain level help us to work effectively and help us in getting our task done but the individual’s threshold for stress is different. During an infectious disease outbreak stress and anxiety can lead to
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or drug
- Physical symptoms like sweating, headache, stomach ache, etc…
Crucial Steps for your Mental Health during Covid-19
From a counselor’s perspective, there is a certain self-care procedure that helps to reduce anxiety and stress over the global pandemic.
- Rumors and fake news elevate anxiety. Follow news from reliable sources such as the Ministry of Health and the Facebook Page of the office of PM but limit your time while watching, reading, or listening to the news. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
- Engage yourself in your daily routine. Carry on your duties as usual. Do the morning, afternoon, and evening chores. List down the things that need to be done, this gives a feeling of accomplishment and avoids escalating the anxiety level.
- Do things that give you pleasure. Though there is a certain restriction on a few of the activities such as going out in the crowd there are always few things that bring joy and pleasure to you. Some evidence has shown that such activities can help in reducing anxiety and stress.
- Take care of your body. Eat on time, go to bed on time, do exercises regularly, and avoid alcohol.
- Watch your thoughts. What you think will affect how you feel and behave. Now it’s a good time to look at our internal narratives and change the negative pattern.
- Stay connected to people and talk to your reliable one if you need to.
It is normal to have anxiety, feel vulnerable and it will intensify in such a pandemic. The most important thing to do for now is to look after yourself and change some of the behaviors so as to not allow yourself to be affected by fear and anxiety. Take care of oneself and others and wash hands regularly and maintain social distance at all times. Social distancing is the practice of maintaining distance from people or avoiding direct contact with people and public places. It’s about minimizing exposure and also reducing transmission. It is important for oneself and also for others to break the transmission of infection. If you have any doubts or clarification to be made feel free to leave a comment in the comment box.