What are the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic towards mental health?
COVID-19 will present differently in different individuals. However, the pandemic itself has mental health consequences to society. It is known that there is an increase in people feeling panic, scared, stress, anxious and depressed due to the uncertainty, social isolation and lifestyle changes.
The negative psychological impacts of COVID-19 pandemic might affect everyone, but there may be certain groups of people who are more vulnerable than others such as students and people who have lost their job.
These drastic and rapid changes can be especially triggering to those with underlying mental health conditions.
One can only imagine how frustrating it must be for those who suffer from anxiety disorders or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The effect of the pandemic might induce moderate-to-severe depressive symptoms for some people. Mental illness is already a handful by itself and these additional fear and anxiety certainly won’t help.
So make sure to check on your friends who are impacted by this in more ways than one. Why not reach out to them and ask how they are doing?
Surviving lockdown and social distancing
Lockdown and social distancing laws are required in some countries to slow down the spread of COVID-19 but that means there will be changes to the way we used to live.
How does lockdown affect an individual’s mental health?
Being in a lockdown or quarantine might affect your mental health in various ways.
- Dealing with change
Not being able to take part in daily activities like going to the mall, going to the gym or getting coffee might be frustrating.
- Being worried of uncertainty
Worries regarding finance, academic progression, and fear of infection, boredom might prove troublesome.
- Being away from your friends and family
It’s certainly not fun to stay away from the things we usually do and people we usually meet and there are negative mental health impacts by being isolated for too long. So it is incredibly important for you to stay connected.
How to cope while social distancing at home?
Not being able to meet anyone and go anywhere can be boring and frustrating. However, complying to the health measures the government has issued is important to slow down the spreading and prevent you from getting infected or infecting others.
Here are the things you can try to put your mind at ease:
- Understand the reason behind the lockdown and social distancing policies
Getting a clear understanding of why you should comply with these policies may sooth your mind from the anxieties. By staying home, we are slowing down the spread while vaccines and cures are currently being developed. We are benefiting society and also helping those who might not have a career that allows them to stay at home.
- Make sure you are well-informed
Access information from trusted sources (e.g. WHO, Regional Government, Ministry of Health). Misinformation can often do more harm!
- Stay connected and self-care
During social distancing and self-quarantine, we may forget that it is important to stay connected and maintain social relationships. It is also important to practice self-care either through mindfulness, meditation or just simply taking a break.
Here are some things you can do during this time to keep busy:
- Cleaning up your space
Being productive doesn’t always mean work! Why not start a cleaning project around your house. Do some spring clean, sweep the floor, clean the bathroom, start sorting those hoarding tendencies and perhaps start organising
- New hobbies
Why not start reading that book you keep pushing away? You can also start picking up new hobbies as well, perhaps start teaching yourself piano or how to code? There’s a lot of online courses available you can look through!
Maybe fix your sleeping pattern, plan a healthier new diet, or start to make exercising your everyday habit! If machines need maintenance, so do you. Consider this your well-deserved maintenance session, so you can function even better in the future.
- Practicing meditation
Research shows that practicing meditation can improve your negative mood and alleviate perceived stress, which are common threats, especially during this pandemic. Try out to practice mindfulness and or meditate.
Staying connected through the COVID-19 pandemic
During social distancing and self-quarantine, we may forget that it is important to stay connected and maintain social relationships.
Due to the lockdown and social distancing laws, it is inevitable that the way we socialise will be restricted. Without realising it, we may start to experience feelings of loneliness.
Though It may seem trivial, loneliness might pose a great threat for us. Loneliness has both physical and mental health consequences. It has been associated with stress hormones, and when we’re stressed, our immune system tends to get weaker.
Some of us are comfortable being alone but it is important to be mindful about how you feel about the lack of social interaction. So make sure to reach out to your friends and family once in a while.
How to stay connected to friends and family
Spend some time with your family or roommate at home! Although, we do know that some of us either live alone or apart from our family and while physical gathering is out of the option, use the internet to stay connected.
Here are some ways and online activities you can do to stay connected:
- Conference call or video call your family and friends
- Play online games together
- Download a chrome extension and have a Youtube Party or Netflix Party
- Exercise together
- Meditate together
- Learn new things together online
This can keep you updated on everyone’s condition and make your connection closer with each other.
Importance of managing social media use and news intake
There’s a lot of information and news regarding COVID-19 pandemic. More often than not, a lot of the information you read shows how devastating the situation is. That kind of information might make you anxious instead. Therefore, it is alright if you want to take a break from social media and the news.
It is also important to know that the source of the information and news you are reading are reliable. Not everything in the family Whatsapp chat is true! Head down to useful links for reliable information and more sources.
Working from home
Due to the lockdown and social-distancing policies, many schools, universities and companies have transitioned to online working; allowing many of us to work from home. However, the transition from working at the office and being mobile to working remotely might not be that easy to deal with.
What is the impact of working from home towards mental health?
While working from home might sound pleasant for some people, it may be frustrating for some others. The lack of supervision might lead you to become unmotivated and lead you to procrastinate.
There are also reduced interactions with coworkers and employers which adds to lack of social interactions but also may lead to many miscommunication to happen. These things might elevate your stress level that may have been already uncomfortably high and so make sure to keep checking.
How to avoid procrastinating and remain productive?
- Get Organised
Time management is key! Plan your time effectively and list out your priorities.
- Minimise distraction
This can be hard when distractions are around the house! Turn off social media notifications, avoid being near to the TV/radio, avoid opening Youtube and other streaming services.
- Use incentives
Set a goal and reward yourself. It may be a form of taking 10 minutes breaks or a chocolate bar.
- Reassess your priorities
List out what you need to do and assess which one is more of priority. This way, you might be able to manage the things you need to finish first without neglecting your responsibilities and needs at home.
- Set a deadline
Setting a goal/deadline will allow you to track and complete your goals.
The pandemic of COVID-19 is scary, but it doesn’t need to be as scary. You can’t stop the pandemic, but you can slow it down and change how it makes you feel. Stay safe everyone, and funnily enough, who would’ve thought your parents were right all along about washing your hands?
Here are some more useful links and resources:
- Kemenkes RI
- Official COVID-19 Media Source (Kemenkes RI)
- Hotline COVID-19 Indonesia
119 ext 9
- WHO COVID-19 Mental Health Considerations
- CDC COVID-19 Managing Stress and Anxiety
- BeyondBlue Looking after your mental health COVID19