The year 2020 has been a challenge for all of us. The year that marked the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged our mental and physical health and notions of what we considered normal. All of us have been waiting for the year to end, with hopes that the new year will bring in a better time in terms of health and situations around the world. All of us have also been looking forward to the holiday season, that will add more positivity, and happiness to our surroundings.
However, for some of us, the holiday season could mean a time all alone, in isolation. If you have been recently exposed to the novel coronavirus, you will have to, and you must isolate yourself, in order to ensure that you do not become a carrier of the virus for someone else. In case of any symptoms of complications, you must also get tested for the viral infection.
How to deal with isolation stress, the sadness of quarantine during the holiday season
While following all protocol in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is essential, being all alone, isolated at this time of the year can be difficult to deal with, especially for your mental health. Here are some tips shared by Dr Samant Darshi, Psychiatrist, Psymate, Noida, on how you can deal with the pandemic stress during the holiday season, especially when under quarantine.
Tips to deal with mental stress during the pandemic
- First of all, if you feel anxious, it is best to acknowledge it. The fact remains the entire world as a community is experiencing this angst. If we collectively fight it, we will emerge victoriously. Perceived social support is an asset that can help us in dealing with these feelings of uncertainty.
- As you accept difficult emotions, communicate your distress and look for concrete and viable solutions.
- It is of utmost importance to stay in touch with your loved ones. Speak to your close ones, vent out your anger and anxiety in front of them but at the same time be a patient listener to what they feel as well. Video calls for those who are living apart is a powerful way of connecting during these tough times; remember this might emerge as a valuable time to establish and re-establish connections.
- Social connections can be very empowering and might be instrumental in giving us a sense of certainty. If you live with elders or children be calm and answer their queries and anxieties, reassure them and take definite measures to protect them so that they feel guarded.
Routines can help you get through isolation and quarantine
At an individual level, initiate this journey by having a routine for yourself.
- Routines are important, particularly when things around you are uncertain because routines largely function as intangible guides. When we know what we are supposed to do next, it usually helps us to plan and execute our actions better. Predictable rituals afford us a sense of certainty and control, something that humans constantly yearn for.
- The morning routine typically sets the tone of the day, embrace basic morning rituals like getting up at the same time every day, making your bed, decluttering your room and sipping a cup of coffee while concurrently acknowledging and expressing gratitude for whatever we have been endowed with. Also, when you do the little tasks that you have designated for the morning you look forward to accomplishing more and more challenging tasks across the day. Maintaining your self-care routine in the morning will enhance a sense of wellbeing across the day.
- Most of us working from home. Having a structure for work is imperative in giving us a sense of predictability and grounding. Structure, in general, is important because it gives an understanding of things around us, it helps us in organising our thoughts and actions towards something that is purposeful. Most of us thrive on a structure because it is anxiety-provoking to not have a sense of certainty. Predictability keeps us centred, helps us to focus on the task at hand and concurrently is very reassuring.
Keeping diet, exercise, and sleep in check can help
- Stress and anxiety may precipitate yearnings junk food or frequent snacking for immediate gratification and happiness. However, eating healthy not only facilitates immunity but scientific evidence has emphasized how nutrition is related to mental health and the food we eat is associated with our mood, behaviour, and cognition.
- Sleep and mental health are closely intertwined. Changes in sleep schedules, delayed in sleep onset, poor quality of sleep, sleep deprivation affects your psychological state and mental health. Basic of sleep hygiene requires you to maintain a regular sleep-wake cycle, avoiding overstimulation before going to bed, not indulging in activating activities like playing games and using a laptop while in the bed.
- Physical exercise plays a vital role in relieving stress and scientific evidence shows that it has been related to lower stress, depression and overall mental wellbeing.
- Take out time for rest and relaxation. Meditation has overall calming effects for the brain and yoga has specifically been linked to increased levels of oxytocin which is a hormone known to increase bonding.
- An ideal schedule is one which is a liberal mix of both individual and family time.
Some tips to not feel overwhelmed
- Set goals for yourself that you can accomplish and remember to delineate tasks that bestow upon your feelings of both mastery and pleasure.
- Indulge in activities that help you engage with the present moment as much as possible.
- Grab this as an opportunity to carry out all those things which you otherwise had no time for.
- Lastly, in the current scenario the constant inflow of information can be overwhelming; curtail your news exposure and limit your news time. Assign a designated place and time for watching the news. At this time, it is of utmost importance to differentiate between information and misinformation. It is both your moral and ethical obligation to be very responsible while sharing any information pertaining to the virus.
- However, it is important to remember that everything does not go as expected, do not be harsh on yourself, this is a perfect time to practise self-compassion.
- Remember! Self-efficacy can actually help you fight hopelessness.
- If you have a pre-existing psychiatric illness be in constant touch with your clinician through telemedicine.