A vast majority of people are absorbed with stress, anxiety and loneliness, amid the global pandemic of Coronavirus. Many of them are complaining when it comes to adjusting to life in lockdown. Whether the folks are quarantined due to suspected exposure or to prevent the spread of infection, they may find themselves unprepared to deal with growing uncertainty caused by the coronavirus. In fact, think-tanks consider mental health one of the most devastating crises amidst the coronavirus spike. It looks too essential to overlook.
According to psychologists, loneliness impairs health by raising levels of stress hormones and inflammation, which, in turn, can increase the risk of heart disease, arthritis, Type-2 diabetes, dementia and even suicide attempts. Hence, it is essential to pinpoint strategies that will help combat loneliness.
One most recent instance is the unusual departure of very popular and promising Indian Bollywood actor Sushant Sing Rajput passed away, committing suicide on June 14. Admittedly, it left the young generations of the world especially the ones of Indian subcontinent stunned. Many think-tanks and his contemporaries believe that depression has led him to put an end to his life. Evidently, poor mental health, in many cases, leaves someone depressed.
Undoubtedly, there are many ways to ensure that mental health is sound and well - just as the physical health. Most of these involve distracting (keeping oneself busy) and finding ways to connect with others in non-traditional ways.
At the outset, reading books can always accompany individuals irrespective of how lonely they are. Professor Zafar Iqbal said once in an interview, "Reading books allows you to have an intellectual growth because it requires your brain to go through a two-way training – reading and thinking simultaneously."
If one reads a work of non-fiction named Sapiens, for example, one will discover a myriad of interesting things: humans first evolved in Africa about 25 million years ago, the human brain accounts for 2-3 percent of body size, but only 25% is used - and a lot more information like this. “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Likewise, people can read on topics that interest them. If someone is unsure what books to read, he or she could can join book review groups on social media or visit online book platforms like "Goodreads".
Listening to podcasts is another activity that can make one feels less-isolated during social distancing. "Staying In with Emily and Kumail", for example, is such a podcast session featuring celebrity couple of writer-producer Emily V. Gordon and actor Kumail Nanjiani that describes the trajectory of work amidst illness, anxiety and isolation. This is a podcast that is made for the current time. Emily's cordial advice and Kumail's cheery comic rigor is broadcasted on every Thursday which one can search in digital platforms available on the web. Surely, it will serve as an antidote to your anxiety-filled days.
In addition to it, watching movies could make everyone feel relaxed. Netflix or YouTube may be a good platform for this. It not only entertains people but also teaches them to respect other cultures, customs and languages. Watching an all-time best movie from early 90s – like, ‘12 Angry Men’ could be an example. In the movie, twelve judges from 3 different nationalities had to come to a conclusion regarding a crime. Interestingly, the whole movie took place at all in one setting; nevertheless it still tops the list of mostly popular movies of all time. Fascinatingly, judges first considered crime in light of the majority perceptions and prejudice but finally clarified their decision realizing the mistakes they had made. Fascinatingly, it reflected on how to be welcoming to people of all colors and creeds, which is a crucial lesson for us to bring peace in society.
Can anybody think of any out-of-the-box ways to keep himself distracted from the increasing panic resulting from the deadly virus? Once citizens are on lockdown for weeks with absolutely no idea when the clouds of despair alleviate, it is better to find ways to capitalize on the situation, ideally to build professional skills; for example, IT and English language skills.
People who are ambitious in life could be grateful for extra time to better their grasp of English. Out of the myriads of websites, the ones expert teachers find most conducive are ESL Language, English Revealed and Oxford Owl. One can find a range of exercises to make himself or herself adroit in English on these websites.
Moreover, concentrating on expanding IT skills is highly likely to open a plenty of avenues for careers. In that case, an online platform, ‘Bohubrihi’, helps a host of IT enthusiasts out for free to be proficient in basic skills required at work. IT skills are no more optional requirements for jobs; rather it is mandatory for almost all potential employees to be fundamentally conversant. Hence, there has never been a better time to work on it.
Most importantly, those who are careful about mental health may want to limit their media consumption, simply because watching too much news and reading too many articles related to Covid-19 can have a detrimental effect on you. For instance, deciding to check the news twice a day would be prudent. Many have limited their time on social media as nearly everyone is talking about the virus. Self-conscious ones could do the same so as to put them in a good mood. Being up-to-date, of course, by the sites that give factual information about what people can do to remain healthy, such as the CDC, WHO and IEDCR is pivotal.
While it is easy to focus obsessively on managing mental health and loneliness in periods of self-isolation, some individuals often forget that physical and mental health are intertwined. If someone spends weeks of isolation not having any exercise, this will necessarily have a noxious impact on our ability to cope mentally. So practicing Tai Chi, yoga or at-home low impact workouts by following YouTube videos could make you feel revived to a large extent. By this way you people can make sure that they are keeping the obesity in check, while staying fit at the same time, and that they are feeling proactive about the situation.
What's more, as social beings, admittedly, plenty of people rely on safe and secure social surroundings to survive and thrive. Since people are mostly stuck at home and in turn, unable to go places or interact socially with many people, they might be wondering what they can do to stay social. Aside from calling on the phone, many can alternatively stay social in nontraditional ways like placing calls using a video chat service like Facetime or Zoom, posting on social media and responding to others' posts on social media.
As it stands now, let us be vigilant about maintaining mental health. Aside from cutting off time on media updates, figuring out things that will occupy us in the meantime throughout the long wait indoors is the key to ensuring our sound health with good mental state. Focusing on them keeps everybody centered and stops him or her from dwelling on problems too much. Let not mental health be our setback in life, and instead, open avenues from now to drive you forward at an unprecedented speed once the pandemic is over.
Mahde Hassan is pursuing his bachelor’s degree majoring in English at East West University. He also works at the British Council of Bangladesh as an invigilator.