We are facing a huge COVID-19 challenge all across the globe. People are quarantined at homes and quarantine facilities. There is a lockdown in every country; countries have sealed their borders. Seems like the Coronavirus menace is never-ending! We have succumbed to the lockdown. Every family is within their home space, not for a day but for days together.
India is thickly populated in metros and cities. We have limited living space. There are homes where five to seven or more individuals live in a small one-room-kitchen apartment or even in a single room. They have to spend days together in that minimal space. Today, COVID-19 has affected many people across the globe physically and has put them at a deadly risk. At the same time it has affected the minds of non-infected individuals even while they are safely clustered in their homes.
We are spending time with the same people in the same surroundings. The good news is that we have learnt to be more understanding and have come closer to people in the family, undertaking joint activities and helping each other. On the other hand when anxiety rules our psyches, family discords and mental strain takes over. The proverb “Familiarity brings contempt” is beginning to hold true. According to reports in China, post COVID-19, there has been a surge in divorce filings and domestic violence.
Playing board games, reading, watching movies and television, practicing yoga, exercising in restricted place, pacing up and down in your small home… is not helping. WhatsApp messaging is getting tiring. Spam messages and rumours flood our cell phones. Limited house space in most homes in India is causing claustrophobia.
We are asked to keep a social distance to protect ourselves. But this self-quarantine is getting to our nerves. Humans are social animals and this lockdown can collectively affect our mental status. Not only adults and senior citizens, it is getting to kids too, who love to play with friends. Although many of us work from home, anxiety and stress are real.
The effects of this mass mandatory quarantine should not be taken lightly. Facts are still unclear as to how many people have been infected, especially in India where testing is limited. Yes! It is worrisome. ‘Panic’ is apparent amongst citizens, who worry about not getting enough food and medicine. Psychologists have reported fear and anxiety after every lockdown. Mood swings including mood blues, feeling of loneliness, confused and puzzled mind, overflowing of thoughts – all or some are prevalent amongst the house-arrested individuals. Also, there is variation and gender differences apparent in the way this manifests itself amongst males and females.
There is a status of uncertainty as to how long this will go on. Fear of falling sick during the lockdown period is traumatizing. Even common cold, headache and diarrhoea that have been common ailments in India seem to be getting attention with the fear of coronavirus infection. With the raised anxiety levels, the probability of increased effects on prevailing health conditions goes up. Diseases may be seen flaring up with enhanced symptoms. Depression can slowly creep in and the mental strain can slow down the cognitive capability. The scenario can be worse for people who are already depressed.
This is the time when we have to help ourselves. Experts suggest sticking to routines like waking up on time, eating breakfast on time, exercising at set times, working at set times, sleeping at specific times and so on. Chores like cooking, cleaning, washing, doing laundry, ironing, setting up cupboards and worktables can keep you busy. In addition, you can devote some time to praying if you are a believer. Yoga surely helps at this time, especially with meditation and breathing exercises such as ‘Pranayam’. Entertaining yourself with games, quizzes, reading, watching old movies, and listening to fine music you love also need to be included to keep yourself mentally sane. Digital social networking can be a good way to connect with your friends and relatives. And yet, there will be times when you find that this boredom seems like it is never going to end!It is good that the policy makers have taken the right decision to control peoples’ lives for their safety. This, indeed, is a voluntary quarantine, which can have uncertain psychological consequences. What we need, is to look for stress relievers. We merely have to wait patiently for all this to end. Let us hope and pray to get back to our normal day-to-day lives as quickly as possible.