Mental health and coping during Co-vid 19 in India
It is said that the strongest people are those who win battles we know nothing about. During this pandemic, we all became vulnerable to mental attacks in one way or another. Many stress factors have mounted up in our lives, notwithstanding negligible social breaks, limited interactions, isolation inside four walls, unending work pressure, longer working hours, household chores that have no end, children and family that require undivided attention. There is only so much that we can stretch ourselves. This results in a dilemma in terms of the boundaries between each role and creates a mental and emotional imbalance.
The result of this role conflict is unending frustration with ourselves and everyone around us. This fuels up anger, hatred and sadness in a whirlwind of emotion that we can’t place into a box. We have the burden of fulfilling numerous expectations of others as well as our own expectations. In the chaos of fulfilling the same, we feel empty and even defeated.
The pandemic has taken the lives of many of our near and dear ones. Some never even got to say goodbye. This has left us with a scar so deep and created a void where we don’t know how to heal. Families have been broken and separated. Families having to stay apart due to travel restrictions feel tensions from not seeing each other. This especially affects students living away from parents in hostels, or families who have traveled back to India to look after their kin unable to go back to their families abroad. On the contrary, even living together with no personal space has caused tensions.
What we don’t realize is that struggles are real, come in all shapes and sizes and affect all ages. It can be a child suffering from a gender identity crisis, who is too afraid to speak. It can be a troubled teen who is being bullied online, it can be a woman struggling to be a mother and a working mom, it can be an employee who has just lost their job, it can be a stressed pet at home that has outbursts, it can be a partner subject to severe domestic abuse and violence. It can be anyone around you who is suffering in silence.
In this chaos, we lose ourselves, and our individualism. We forget how to live, and it becomes all about survival. It is not just about building our immune system anymore. It is also about protecting our mental health. It’s about not falling into insanity.
Mental health is something we don’t speak enough of. The taboo around mental health is so primitive that people are consumed into this unending abyss. People now fall prey to such scrutiny by society and are faced with judgment and frowned upon. The result? The loss of beautiful, valuable individuals whose cries for help go unheard of that they take drastic steps of self-inflicted pains or even worse, suicide! Is that what we have come to?
With all the uncertainty, stress, tensions we just spiral out of control. So how do we stop this wild rollercoaster?
Our new reality happens to be a virtual one, unavoidably. Thus, take as many breaks as you can from the screens. Excessive screen time means exposure to severe light that can damage our retina. Ophthalmologists recommend that after every hour you should look away from your screens. Take quick breaks where you can just close your eyes and relax. Look outside your window and practice looking at far-off objects. Quick blinking 15-30 times every hour also helps relax your muscles and retain the moisture in your eyes.
- Focus on being healthy.
Try switching to a healthier lifestyle. You know what they say, only a healthy body can have a healthy mind so make sure you stay on top of prioritizing your health. Here are a few things you can do
- Stick to regular and balanced meals.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- Exercise as much as you can.
- Get plenty of sleep and quit binge-watching.
- Avoid excessive alcohol, tobacco or any substance use.
- Get vaccinated whenever possible.
- Most importantly, get some ME TIME!
It’s so easy to lose ourselves as we struggle to provide and take care of the needs of everyone else around us. We fail to see what we need and want or take time to analyze our thoughts and desires. We push ourselves aside and make time for everyone and everything else that we eventually meltdown. This isn’t okay. We must prioritize ourselves over everyone else. NO! It is not selfish. You need to be ‘okay’ to be ‘okay’ for everyone else. For instance, think of the safety instructions of the aircraft. They say put on your oxygen mask first before you help anyone else. Why? Because only then will you be able to help the other person.
But on a serious note what can we do if we are facing a mental crisis or we know of someone going through it?
The following link is the list of helpline numbers updated by the Indian government. They have trained professionals who can listen. They can navigate you through your situation, help you find the reason. If you know a friend or a family member who is suffering in silence, you can recommend these helplines to them.
Please visit this website for the list of numbers throughout India.
Why is it that we recommend professional help rather than advice here? Well, we believe, each of you is unique. Only the captain of the ship knows how well his ship will sail in the storm. Thus, we urge you to seek help, we urge you to raise your voice for those who don’t have one. It’s not easy to understand a mental cry for help, it’s not ok to ignore this cry.
We need to connect, we need to speak, we need to see, we need to hear, we need to feel, we need to love, we need to respect, we need to forgive, we need to forget we need to find ourselves. But it starts at home with you, with your loved ones. Let’s make the call before it’s too late.