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A top psychologist reveals how a crisis can affect your mental health and what to do about it

Published on:24 May 2021, 14:03pm IST
If there’s one thing that the pandemic has made us realise, it is that a crisis doesn’t just have a physical impact; it also has mental and emotional implications.
Nikita Bhardwaj
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emotional baggage
You must put down the proverbial baggage to progress. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

No one in their wildest dreams has ever thought that there would be a point in their lives, when they would be trapped at home, and that too because of the pandemic.  Mental unrest has become a part and parcel of everyone’s life, which is to be honest, it is pretty debilitating. 

Loneliness, staying socially apart, anxiety about the new normal, and stress of whether all this is ever going to end are recurring issues. Knowingly or unknowingly, this crisis has caused severe mental and emotional unrest.    

According to renowned psychologist, Arushi Malik from Kaleidoscope – a unit of Global Excellence Group, a pandemic is not just a phenomenon that can be bound within physical boundaries, it affects individuals and the society at large, seamlessly causing disruption, anxiety, stress, stigma, and xenophobia. The public is constantly being informed about the physical effects of covid, and the kind of preventive measures that should be taken. It has also been about managing symptoms of covid‐19, if they appear. 

However, the effect of this pandemic on one’s mental health has not been studied at length. Taking all the precautions may greatly affect the pandemic’s dynamic by altering the severity, transmission, disease flow, and repercussions but the present situation requires raising awareness in public, which can be helpful to deal with this calamity.

“The pandemic has affected mental health in many ways, particularly with widespread social isolation to uphold necessary safety measures. For some, social isolation and loneliness has caused poor mental and physical health. The pandemic has highlighted the widespread mental health issues that existed in our society, even before the pandemic,” advocates Ms Malik.

crisis and mental health
Is coronavirus giving you anxiety? Image courtesy: Shutterstock

But the question here is — have you noticed a change in your mental state lately? Because covid-19 can do that.

Here’s how covid-19 is affecting your mental health
1. Fear of getting sick

The fear of the unknown triggers anxiety, which in turn affects your appetite, causes sleep problems and significantly impacts your ability to cope with your daily life. There’s no getting away from the fear of becoming infected with the virus, which can lead to other sources of stress.

2. The emotional fallout due to social distancing

Isolation assures safety from the virus, but comes with its own fallouts. Staying indoors separates you from the support and companionship of friends and family, which sometimes can be incredibly difficult and depressing. The fear of loneliness can also affect those who are staying with their families, as spending all day with them can be very stressful, and create challenges no matter how your relationship dynamic is.

crisis and mental health
Learn how to manage anxiety. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
3. Finance or job loss

Due to a worldwide lockdown, millions haven’t been able to go to work and that has triggered the fear of financial problems. The fear of uncertainty of when you will be able to go back to work, or if your job will stay or not are overwhelming stressors that can contribute to mental health problems.

4. Loss of a dear one

Many people have experienced the sudden death of friends and family. The loss can trigger a sense of loneliness and depression. However, there can be grief at losing your job or health as well.

5. Spread of misinformation

Levels of stress can be increased due to the constant flow of negative and false news through various media outlets. You might not realise it, but it can severely affect your mental peace and well-being.

But we can’t bow down to this. That’s why we need to get out of this mental state right away.

Here are some healthy ways to cope with mental and emotional stress
1. Take care of your body and mind

This is an extraordinarily trying time, and all the tried-and-tested stress management strategies apply, such as eating healthy meals, getting plenty of sleep, and meditating.

2. Stay connected even when physically isolated

Many people with coronavirus, especially young, seemingly healthy people, have no symptoms yet can still spread the virus, says evidence. That’s why the most important thing one can do right now is to practice social distancing.

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3. Reach out to others in need

If in your locality, people are isolated and need some help (especially the elderly or disabled), you should reach out and offer all the support you can, while taking full precautions. You can also take the help of social media groups to get in touch with vulnerable people in your area.

4. Plan for what you can

It’s natural to be worried about what could happen if your workplace shuts down, or if your children are forced to stay at home, or even if you are forced to self-quarantine. Although contemplating these possibilities can be frightening, being proactive can help alleviate at least some of the stress.

5. Seek help

If you’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness, you must seek a treatment program.

crisis and mental health
Seeking help can heal you better. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

“As more and more people are forced to stay at home in self‐isolation, in order to prevent the further flow of the pathogen at the societal level, we at an individual and government level should take necessary measures for mental and emotional well-being,” concludes Ms Malik.

Ladies, always remember that there is a silver lining, and this too shall pass.

Nikita Bhardwaj Nikita Bhardwaj

Six-pack abs are all that Nikita needs, along with her daily dose of green tea. At Health Shots, she produces videos, podcasts, stories, and other kick-ass content.