Before COVID-19, we went about routines without thinking twice – we were at work, out with friends, socialising, going on vacations, heading to the gym – we participated in activities that fed our social interaction meters. This was especially important for those living alone, as it brought individuals clothes together, promoting cooperation and closeness.
The importance of having family and/or friends around you at a time like this is a blessing; to be in a supportive and loving environment is what will get us through these difficult times. With a new way of life, with social distancing being the norm, those living alone seem to be more isolated, with limited human interaction. There are always ways of staying connected via phone call, video chatting, text and social media, but it is not the same. Loneliness and isolation can have detrimental long term effects on an individual’s mental health. Symptoms of depression, anxiety, distress and fears are bound to crop up, with some of them manifesting in physical symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, tiredness, lack of sleep, acidity and in more severe cases, chronic illnesses.
So what are the coping mechanisms for this?
- Set a time limit on the media consumption, that includes social media, news channels (local, national or international). Avoid seeking out new information throughout the day; allow yourself time once a day to be updated with any COVID-19 related news.
- Stay healthy. It is supremely important to maintain physical and mental health at a trying time.
- Managing symptoms of anxiety and depression is majorly small steps to undertake on a daily basis, which elevate your mood levels.
- Food and nutrition play a huge role in feeling better. The gut and brain have an established connection, where the stomach is sensitive to all positive and negative emotions the mind feels. Include foods such as spinach, nuts, whole grains and more in your food, that help in elevating mood levels and help contain anxious feelings.
- Exercise, Meditation and Sleep has a big impact on mental health. Being inactive can aggravate negative feelings, therefore exercise is a natural, effective and powerful way to combat this. It releases cumulative lactic acids from the muscles & endorphins, known as the happy hormone. Harvard Health Publishing notes that Yoga is a self-soothing technique similar to socialising with friends, as it modulates stress response systems, which reduces heart rate, lowers blood pressures and increases heart rate variability; all are signs of the body’s ability to respond to stress and anxiety more flexibly. Additionally, Pranayama, which is a conscious practice to make the breath easy and smooth, has tremendous power to reduce stress, anxiety as it activates the Diaphragmatic (abdominal) breathing which induces a relaxation response in our body and also promotes restful sleep.
- Stay as connected with your friends and family as much as possible; focus on your hobbies or pick up new hobbies that are calming and can bring peace.
While the light at the end of the tunnel may seem difficult to see, this will pass and all of us will come out of this with more strength, endurance and ability to face challenges.
Dharana Wellness Centre, a wellness retreat near Mumbai, focuses on holistic health which includes physical, mental and spiritual balance. One of the main pillars of this eco wellness retreat is finding the mental balance with Ayurveda and Yoga at its core, devoid of any feelings of anxiety, stress or depression.