by The Welthi Bureau, October 10th, 2020
Welcome to 2020! We’re living in unprecedented times. Along with the Covid-19 pandemic, we are getting to see a high rise in mental health issues amongst millions of people. The levels of anxiety, hopelessness, fear, isolation, loneliness, uncertainty and emotional distress experienced have become widespread as the world struggles to bring the virus under control and to find solutions. It’s time that we realise that mental health is a basic human right. World Mental Health Day celebrated on October 10 every year aims to raise awareness in the global community about the critical mental health agendas – with a unifying voice through collaboration with various partners – to take action and to create lasting change through the messages we promote. This year’s theme is “Mental Health for All – Greater Investment – Greater Access. Everyone, everywhere.”
First let’s understand some facts:
Mental health is one of the most neglected areas of public health. Close to 1 billion people are living with a mental disorder, 3 million people die every year from the harmful use of alcohol and one person dies every 40 seconds by suicide. And now, billions of people around the world have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is having a further impact on people’s mental health. Secondly, Countries spend just 2% of their health budgets on mental health. This is a gross disparity between the necessity & provision.
Let’s see how pandemic affected our mental health:
Fear and anxiety about a new disease and what could happen can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Public health actions, such as social distancing, can make people feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety
I observe certain changes in the last few months that includes:
Excessive worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones, your financial situation or job.
Changes in eating patterns.
Difficulty concentrating & memory recall
Worsening of chronic physical problems like hypertension, cardiac conditions, diabetes etc.
Worsening of mental health conditions like OCD, anxiety disorder, panic disorder etc. Changes in mood including mood swings, irritability, low mood, low energy levels etc.
How to take care of your mental health in a pandemic:
USE PRACTICAL WAYS TO RELAX:
Relax your body often by doing things that work for you—take deep breaths, stretch, meditate, wash your face and hands, or engage in pleasurable hobbies.
Pace yourself between stressful activities, and do a fun thing after a hard task.
Use time off to relax—eat a good meal, read, listen to music, take a bath, or talk to family.
Talk about your feelings to loved ones and friends often.
KEEP YOURSELF HEALTHY:
LIMIT CONSUMPTION OF NEWS:
Set limits on how much time you spend reading or watching news about the outbreak. As it can fuel anxiety & fear. You will want to stay up to date on news of the outbreak, particularly if you have loved ones in places where many people have gotten sick. But make sure to take time away from the news to focus on things in your life that are going well and that you can control.
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR BODY, FEELINGS, AND SPIRIT:
CONNECT & BOND WITH FAMILY:
Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling. If your family is away you can bond with them virtually. Staying connected can enhance our emotional wellbeing. Look for ways to stay connected to friends and family. A good way to do this is to share the activities you’re engaging in virtually with friends that also enjoy this activity.
STICK TO A ROUTINE:
The pandemic has disrupted most people’s daily routines, and made it harder to remain productive. Setting a routine is important. Stick to it as much as you can, allowing yourself flexibility to adjust as needed based on things that come up during your day. This will also help you stay productive, even if your productivity level doesn’t remain consistent with pre-pandemic levels.
WORK FROM HOME ESSENTIALS:
Get Dressed. You don’t need to dress as formally as you might for work, but the simple act of changing clothes serves as a signal that it’s time to wake up and get things done. Designate a Workspace or Home Office. Try to make your workspace comfortable with a chair you can sit in for eight hours a day and a few decorations. Find an area with good natural lighting if at all possible. Entering your workspace will help you turn “on” at the beginning of the day and get down to work. Similarly, leaving your workspace will also help you turn “off” at the end of the day and fully disengage. Keep Clearly Defined Working Hours. Communicate with the people you live with to establish boundaries so you can cut down on distractions during the workday—and then disconnect and give the people you care about your full attention.
The last & most important thing you can do is to reach out for help. Don’t assume that you’d automatically get better with time. A thorough assessment & treatment by a mental health professional is a must. We are all in this together and together we can make a difference.
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