Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. -Arundhati Roy
This year, we have borne witness to various disasters, on a frequent basis. The pandemic has confined people to the four walls of their houses, and disasters, like wildfires, explosions, cyclones, floods, we feel we have seen it all. Disasters cause massive destruction and damage in their wake.
“While the physical damage is measurable, and to some extent salvageable, the mental anguish, distress, and trauma of facing these disasters are beyond measure."
The effects of disasters on mental health range from anxiety, emotional instability, social distress, depression, and even PTSD. Recent research has found that social distancing and quarantine have led to touch deprivation among people, and can be emotionally taxing. Social distancing and staying at home is necessary during this pandemic, however, prolonged durations of staying indoors can weaken immunity and have negative consequences on our physical health.
Some other concerns common among people are:
- Change in the sleep cycle
- Uncertainty about future
- Reduced motivation
It is important to seek professional help for mental and physical health, but at the same time, it is fundamental to practice self-care to prevent cumulative adverse impacts.
Here are 6 suggestions to ensure a healthy mind and body in these uncertain times.
Tick Tock, Follow the Clock
Days have just been merging into each other, and staying at home 24/7 has made it impossible to have a regular routine. However, it is shown by studies that routines are very beneficial for our mental health. The fact that routines are fixed patterns of functioning, can reduce stress, and even prove to be calming for some individuals. It helps us to cultivate and practice long term habits, along with having a purpose for each day. One helpful tip is to make a to-do list for yourself each morning and try to follow through it. Fixing reminders for yourself throughout the day for various tasks can also help to form a routine. Initially, fixing a routine might need efforts, and sometimes also lead to failure, but it will definitely be rewarding.
Early to Bed and Early to Rise
Not only has our daily routine gone haywire, a decent sleep schedule is non-existent in these numerous weeks of staying at home. We might finally be getting long hours of sleep but sleeping and waking up at odd hours can give rise to problems, like changes in metabolism and appetite, weight gain, headaches, etc. A routine in place will also help bring our sleep schedule on track. Soothing instrumental music, lavender-scented candles, keeping away devices an hour before sleeping, a warm shower before bed, are some tricks to help get better sleep. A good sleep, enough and at appropriate hours, ensure rejuvenation for the mind and body.
All Play, No Work
In the quarantine, a lot of people have reported engaging in hobbies they did not previously find the time for. Hobbies allow people to relax and unwind, along with facilitating improved mental functioning. They help to blend productivity and recreation and indeed can prove fruitful for our mental health. The beauty of a hobby is, it does not bear the stress of a mandatory outcome out of it like most other tasks, and one does not have to be good at it to indulge in it. Find something that piques your interest and try your hand at it.
You may also read: Art’ Thou Bored?: Top 12 Hobbies in Lockdown
I, You, We
Humans are social beings, and not having been able to do that, socialize, for so long has resulted in social isolation. Social isolation can bring a host of problems with itself, and the only way to cope with it is to stay connected with people. Technology is especially a boon in such times, by allowing us to socialize through virtual platforms, like video calling facilities or even playing online games with our loved ones. It has redefined the means to have fun and spend quality time together. Social connection and networking help us feel a sense of solidarity, and that we are not alone in this crisis.
Social Media and News Detox
Bad news has been all around us and every hour of the day it gets added to. Constant exposure to bad news can heighten stress levels, cause fatigue and anxiety, and can also cause physiological symptoms like headaches, stomach aches, and even muscle tension. In addition to that, the addiction to social media may hamper our self-esteem, and instead, make us envious and drown in self-pity. Intermittently, it is important to remind ourselves that we can disengage from social media, which will give us more time for ourselves, allow us to be present in the moment, destroy our “FOMO”, and help us redirect our energy on more essential things.
Staying at home has ceased the majority of our physical activity, which may have even led to major weight gains for some people. Lack of physical activity is a major contributor to various health hazards. Most of us find exercising exhausting and try to run away from it. But, exercising releases endorphins in our body that automatically lift our mood and of course, maintain physical fitness. Exercise can be made fun using upbeat music, finding a workout buddy, or maybe even attempting to turn regular chores into fun exercises. With the supplements of technology, one can even find various apps, that have fun workout regimes, or even trackers that can remind you to be consistent.
While there is no one set way to follow, these are just some suggestions that can truly ensure our mental care is taken care of. After all, mental health does constitute an important aspect of our overall health and wellbeing. And that is why, it is important to foster conversations about it on platforms like Now&Me.
Because in order to open up a new portal and to usher the world to fit in this new normal, the battle has to be fought together.