COVID AND MENTAL HEALTH

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major effect on our lives. Many of us are facing challenges that can be stressful, overwhelming, and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Public health actions, such as social distancing, are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but they can make us feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety. Adolescence is a sensitive period for social development with an increased need for social interactions. Coping with the current situation and complying with the current restrictions on top of this can be especially difficult for children and adolescents since these circumstances can be experienced as being incongruent with their developmental tasks. The challenges and consequences of COVID-19 might therefore have a tremendous impact on their mental health.

Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way is so important to maintain sanity during this period. It’s noted that according to a research held recently most of the students reported to have a feeling of stress and obviously, we can’t denyit is very natural to feel stressful, anxiousness, grief, and worry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are ways that you can help yourself and others.

WAYS TO COPE UP WITH STRESS

Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. It’s good to be informed, but hearing about the pandemic constantly can be upsetting. Consider limiting news to just a couple times a day and disconnecting from phone, tv, and computer screens for a while.

Take care of your body.

Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.

Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.

Exercise regularly.

Get plenty of sleep.

Avoid excessive alcohol, tobacco, and substance use.

Continue with routine preventive measures (such as vaccinations, cancer screenings, etc.) as recommended by your healthcare provider.

Get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine when available.

Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.

Connect with others. Talk with people external people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

Connect with your community- or faith-based organizations. While social distancing measures are in place, try connecting online, through social media, or by phone or mail.

Sound cliché, you might think that this is what everyone suggests but it isn’t helping you. So, in this case you should hop onto internet and find things you’d love to learn in your free time, maybe a new language, doing some artwork, watching something meaningful, practising skin care, yoga or whatever you’d want to adopt as a new hobby and make sure you make it a routine.

Happy isn’t just a word to say or dozens of people coming up to you and saying “be happy, relieve that stress” will make you happy or as if it will relieve your stress. Happiness can only be gained through self-realisation and making changes.  

 PARENTAL GUIDE: HOW TO HELP ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION IN TEENS DURING THIS PANDEMIC

· Explain the nature of anxiety to your teen. Anxiety is an essential emotion we all feel in response to threat. It will bring about a response which affects all parts of our body, our thinking and our behaviour. When anxiety is managed it can be helpful – allowing us to harness its protective nature to spur us into positive health management. 

 · Help them to develop positive self-care behaviours to maintain health and hygiene. This will build their confidence in their ability to protect themselves and learn to take responsible action. 

· Help them to challenge negative thoughts that may make them overestimate dangers, leading to difficulties such as over thinking and over worrying. This means providing them with facts to minimise fear. Make sure these facts are from a trusted, scientific source.

  Help them regulate the amount of information they have access to through the news, social media and online. Misinformation spreads fast and is as unhealthy to the mind as a pandemic may be to a nation.

  Practicing social distancing does not come easily to teenagers. Risking becoming what may be perceived as ‘left out’ is probably one of the biggest punishments a teen may feel. Provide a benefit to social distancing such as, for example, being able to do a task they highly value. This will provide an incentive to follow through with distancing rather than make it a punishment to try and avoid.

  Social media can provide a safe alternative to keeping up with friends, despite it not always helping a young person’s mental health. Help your child or young person to place boundaries on their use and keep communication open as to what discussions might be happening on line.

 Shift the focus to helping others. Providing social support not only increases empathy and helps avoid negative or stereotypic attributions but also helps build confidence in their ability to face difficulties.

 Challenge compulsive behaviour. Constant checking, contrary to belief, does not help reduce anxiety, instead it fans it. Suggest they scale back on checking phones and the internet for information updates since they can become digital intrusions. Suggest instead that they limit screen time, trusting the adults in their lives to share significant information instead. 

 Encourage searching for positive bits of news and provide feedback on what’s going right rather than fixating on what may be wrong. Enhance the development of a balanced perspective.

  frightened captain will make a frightened crew so anxious adults should take steps to manage their own tense thoughts and behaviours and counterbalance negative ideas and actions with positive, uplifting ones. 

 Throughout the pandemic, anxiety, depression, sleep disruptions, and thoughts of suicide have increased for many young adults. They have also experienced a number of pandemic-related consequences – such as closures of universities, transitioning to remote work, and loss of income or employment – that may contribute to poor mental health.

Feeling safe is essential in the effective management of anxiety. The current, ever-changing global health situation can therefore contribute to increasing anxiety symptoms in all of the family. The teen years in particular, need special focus since adolescence can be a time when emotions are experienced intensely. COVID-19 is just a phase that’ll hopefully pass soon but maintaining sanity is must, don’t let isolation traumatise you or your teen, it’s important that we take care of each other in this tough time. Get indulged with your loved ones, connect to them through media or do what you love. If you see someone struggling or showing signs of depression, anxiety or suicidal tendencies you can support them seek help as soon as possible.

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