COVID-19 times: 'Keeping yourself involved can help ease anxiety'

ST Staff
Saturday, 2 May 2020

Avoiding thoughts related to the outbreak and focussing on other activities is the key to beat anxiety

With the pandemic taking up everyone's mind space, it is easy to feel disconnected and afraid about the outcome. While uncertainty about the future does end up clouding the mind, it is crucial to find an outlet that can help in battling these worries. Shilpa Sandhane, psychological counsellor and facilitator, IHHI (Institute of Holistic Healing India), answers questions from readers.

I am a 25-year-old boy living with my friends in the city. Ever since I heard about the first COVID-19 case in Maharashtra, I am extremely scared. It has affected me so much that whatever I touch, be it the doorknob, tap, window grill, or stairway walls; I keep wondering if I will get infected. It bothers me the entire day and is affecting my health. I can see some changes in my behaviour, both good and bad. I am taking extra care of myself, but at the same time, I am getting irritated with small things and small actions of others. How do I work on this fear of contracting COVID-19?

A: It is always good to take care of ourselves and others. So, you're doing the right thing. It is natural to feel worried and sometimes even frightened about the pandemic and its effects on human life. This may also lead to taking extra caution in certain cases, which again is very natural. 

It looks like you have good knowledge of the preventive measures to avoid the further spread of the virus. So keeping a safe distance from people, using masks, cleaning your hands with soap or using a sanitiser are all good steps. If you follow these and the directives given by authentic sources from time to time, without feeling worried or irritated, you are safe. 

But just as you are taking care of your body, you must take good care of your mental health as well. Anything in excess is not suitable for both physical and mental health. It is important to avoid worrying unnecessarily. If you keep yourself occupied, you will be able to steer away from negative thoughts. So try and get involved in as many positive activities and thoughts as possible. Regular physical exercises, meditation, keeping in touch with your family members and friends will help you in keeping your morale high.

All of us are glued to the TV, the internet and other mediums to know more about the pandemic. What we have heard about the job scenario is quite sad. Experts are predicting that many people could lose their jobs post-pandemic. I am a youngster living with my family. My family's responsibility lies solely on me. The thought of losing my job doesn't let me sleep in the night. I stay awake and hence, feel tired the entire day. I can't explain this to my family, and that frustrates me even more. How do I keep myself calm and not let my fear affect my family?

A: It is commendable that you are not shying away from your responsibilities. This is in itself, a positive thought. The feeling of insecurity at this time is not uncommon. But let us think about this differently. The fact that you are the most important person in the family gives you all the more reason to stay mentally and physically strong. The best way in the present situation is to focus on one day at a time and think of how to make the most of this time in hand, which is a privilege in itself. Keeping oneself physically and mentally fit is the need of the hour. 

Simultaneously, this is an excellent time to stay involved in various other family activities. The involvement will help in strengthening the family bond and also prepare you to transparently discuss all the worries and fears you have with your family members. I am sure this will help reduce your pressure substantially. 

This is also a good time to think about all the possible alternatives you can have for the future. You never know, some of the alternatives could be even better than the present work you are doing.

Help is here!

Are you worried about the virus and its impact on your physical, mental, emotional and economic health? Don't keep the fears within. Send your questions to us, and we will get them answered by qualified counsellors. 

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