2021, the new year brought with it the promise of a better, safer tomorrow—owing to the widespread roll-out of the vaccine and a sincere attempt to 'break the chain'. However, it wasn't long into the year that the nation found itself submerged under the second wave of the pandemic, deadlier and more contagious.
"The unforeseen spike in COVID-19 cases across the country has caused chaos and distress. While doctors are tirelessly working to treat the physical symptoms of long-haul coronavirus, many people are simultaneously struggling with the emotional impact of the pandemic. Unfortunately, just as the fear and grief of last year began to fade, we were hit harder with a second wave," explains Dr Roma Kumar, Chief Psychologist, Emotionally.in.
While some people are struggling with a sense of hopelessness and burnout, others are languishing or are unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Languishing—the dominant emotion of 2021—is a sense of stagnation and emptiness, and, living in a constant state of fear and helplessness poses to put an individual at a higher risk for mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
To avoid the possibility of such vulnerabilities, and to keep our hopes up, Dr Roma suggests several strategies that go a long way in inviting peace of mind:
1) Focus on What's Under Your Control
As human beings, we tend to brood over what isn’t going well, rather than being focused on the aspects that are within our control, and things we should be grateful for. Amidst these difficult times, begin journaling and take time out to introspect and reflect on all the things that are working well for you. Let’s be concerned in a rational manner, and shift focus on to the solutions, rather than glorifying the problem.
2) Engage in Hobbies and Become Physically Active
Since our physical movement has been severely restricted over the past year, most of us have adopted a sedentary lifestyle—one which won't solely impact our physical health, but also our emotional well-being.
To avoid this from taking place and keeping yourself physically and mentally agile, ensure that you engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing, such as painting, gardening, solving puzzles etc. Carve time out of your day to focus on things that challenge you—maybe an interesting project, a worthwhile goal, or a meaningful conversation. Doing something as simple as this may end up being a huge step in the right direction towards discovering where your energy and enthusiasm lies.
3) Know When to Cut-Off From Media
While the media proves to be a reliable source for all COVID-19 related information, over-exposure to distressing news may end up doing more damage than good—becoming detrimental to one's mental health. Hence, know when to cut-off from the news and take regular breaks from consumption of information.
4) Prioritise Self Care
Setting up a structured daily routine and sticking to it can work wonders in regulating your mental health. Establish certain boundaries and slot different times of the day to engage in a multitude of self care activities—whether it be reading a book, indulging in skincare, or listening to music! Instead of becoming overwhelmed as a result of setting unattainable goals, set small, achievable goals.
5) Recognise That You Are Not Alone
It's extremely important for one to realise that they are not alone. Thousands of people, across the globe, are experiencing a sense of hopelessness and a void amidst these tough times. Remember, pain when shared is half the pain. Make a conscious effort to reach out to your loved ones (digitally), and reconnect with those who hold an significant place in your life.
6) Practice Meditation and Mindfulness
We unfortunately live in a world that normalises seeking treatment for physical ailments and stigmatises mental health concerns. The ongoing pandemic, however, is challenging this notion and is urging one to rethink emotional health and well-being. By acknowledging that so many of us are struggling, we can give a voice to quiet despair and can light a path out of the void.