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Overcoming Anxiety About the Pandemic

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has led to several changes around the world in terms of the practise of social distancing, economic transitions, remote forms of working etc. With these sudden changes in our life, everyone has been adapting to what is often referred to as the “new normal”. Changing our lifestyle in unusual circumstances is not always the easiest task. Even though we know that change is the only constant in life, when it is negative, we are taken off guard and find it hard to navigate life. These times can also trigger anxiety in several people and those who already struggle with anxiety may find it hard to take control of the situation. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), anxiety disorders include disorders that share features of excessive fear and anxiety and related behavioural disturbances. 

Anxiety encompasses feelings of worry, nervousness, or dread. Although unpleasant, occasional bouts of anxiety are natural and sometimes even productive: by signalling that something isn’t quite right, anxiety can help people both avoid danger and make important and meaningful changes. However, persistent, pervasive anxiety that disrupts one’s daily life, whether at school, work, or with friends, can be the mark of an anxiety disorder. The Covid-19 pandemic has infected more than 500,000 people globally, rattling financial markets, upending local economies and resulting in thousands of deaths worldwide, with numbers expected to climb. 

In a study conducted on the initial psychological impact of Covid-19 and its correlation in the Indian community (Varshney, 2020) revealed during the initial stage of the pandemic in India, almost one-third respondents suffered from a significant psychological impact. Another study from Iran (Zandifar and Badrfam, 2020) depicted the role of factors like unpredictability, uncertainty, the seriousness of the disease and misinformation contributing to stress and mental health problems. Therefore, the authors highlighted the increasing importance of mental health awareness in particular among the vulnerable population. A paper also revealed (Dong and Bouey 2020) how a mental health crisis could be occurring due to the spread of the pandemic especially in countries where the cases are at a sharp rise and emphasized on the need for mental health care in disaster management.

It is easy to fall into the fear of this uncertainty and unusual times, but experts suggest that it is still important and possible to be optimistic. For instance, in India, the total number of recovered cases have surpassed the number of active cases, which shows a positive development. Moreover, the milder cases show speedy recovery rates. Focusing on the positive side of the spectrum can enable us to feel less helpless and pessimistic and focusing on the facts rather than leading towards the abundant of news and information we see today would help us. Anxiety stems from irrational beliefs and facts; focusing on the facts rather than believing false news would be a starting point to feel less anxious. 

Moreover, emotional changes are harder to deal with, along with various lifestyle changes that Covid-19 has forced several people to make. This makes recognizing your emotions and dealing with them extremely important.

Having a strong support system also is crucial in times like these. Staying in touch with friends and family and even seeking help from support groups and counsellors when required is imperative. Not being afraid to ask for help and turning towards each other is an important way to overcome anxiety. Anxiety often leads us to overthink and overreact, during this time people who are expecting high levels of anxiety must also take practical steps to not only lessen the risk of catching the coronavirus but also reduce the anxiety around it. Avoiding unnecessary travel and crowds, washing hands regularly and keeping your hands away from your mouth are all important steps for your safety. Taking charge of what you can do and being careful will be helpful emotionally as well. 

Practising yoga, meditation and controlled breathing can also help alleviate anxiety. Focused exercises help clear and calm the mind, and help us remain focused throughout the day. Anxiety and fear can be seen as physiological processes and that can make our bodies also feel sick. So, taking care of yourself and being easy on yourself is as important as taking care of others. For a lot of us, despite staying at home and practising social distancing, we still have to work from home or give exams. Taking out time and doing what we like is extremely important to not only feel calm but to follow our routines properly and manage the various demands of what the situation pertains. To summarize, start focusing on the facts, take care of yourself, reach out to people and more importantly, seek help when it is required. 

If you are feeling distressed or anxious, or need someone to talk to, then drop a WhatsApp message/call us on 7707070002 or email us at covid19helplineindia@gmail.com .

By - Samah Nanda Graphic by - Nuti Yadav

#mentalhealth #covidinfo #researchbased #positivity

References/ Read More At -

Varshney M, Parel JT, Raised N, Sarin SK (2020) Initial psychological impact of COVID-19 and its correlates in Indian Community: An online (FEEL-COVID) survey. PLOS ONE 15(5): e0233874. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0233874

Duan L., Zhu G. Psychological interventions for people affected by the COVID-19 epidemic. Lancet Psychiatry. 2020;7(4):300–302

Zandifar A., Badrfam R. Iranian mental health during the COVID-19 epidemic. Asian J. Psychiatr. 2020;51:101990. 

Sethi, S. (2020, March 18). 10 Ways to Ease Your Coronavirus Anxiety. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/18/smarter-living/coronavirus-anxiety-tips.html

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