By Shumita Kakkar
The fast pace of our lives has been disrupted by the unprecedented pandemic that broke out early into the year. The heartening thing, however, has been the global cooperation and resilience that has helped in a good bit of recovery and a lot of progress on developing a vaccine for the pandemic. Having said that, it is undeniable that the chaotic scenarios, disruptions to lifestyle, personal and family health concerns, and the global economic downturn caused by it have been a severe mental health challenge for most people directly or indirectly. This is in a scenario where mental health issues are already a pressing concern in India.
So much so that there is little awareness and acknowledgement of the same. Similar to most physical ailments, mental health problems are also treatable, but it generally takes longer for a person to recover from them. This is more so in case the problem is not identified timely and the right steps are not taken to cure/prevent it. The key is to identify the core areas which can help in improving mental health and alertness. It is important to work on them in a sustainable manner by taking small and effective steps focusing on the following aspects.
A predominantly digital lifestyle can also pose challenges to quality sleep. Then there is the modern phenomenon of 24×7 services which make people work in evening and night shifts as well. What must be understood here is that sleep is not an indulgence, but a process through which an individual regains alertness, physical and mental fitness, and a positive mood.
Hence, one should try to sleep for eight hours a day which is essential for good health. Further, usage of electronic devices and gadgets such as computers, mobile phones or tablets or even the habit of watching TV before going to sleep should be avoided. Similarly, consumption of caffeine or alcohol before sleeping also affects mental health adversely and should be avoided.
In the wake of COVID-19, everyone is facing restrictions on movement, social interactions, etc. Even celebrating special occasions and festivals has become difficult in this period of social distancing. Thus, it is natural for people to feel mentally bogged down, depressed. However, this is where virtual interactions and social networking become important.
Even if you are working from home, make it a point to prepare for the day in the same way that you normally did. Maintain good personal hygiene, dressing style, and groom yourself as if you have to go out and meet people every day. Make video calls and join online groups on subjects that interest you such as creative writing, books, or travel.
Health and wellness
Generally physical and mental health are considered to be separate areas. However, when it comes to overall health then mental wellness becomes integral as well. Good physical health increases our efficiency, alertness, self-confidence and offers a lot of psychological benefits. This can be ensured by regular exercise and healthy eating habits. When we exercise, our brain receives a boost of the happy chemicals called endorphins which make us feel better and happier. Similarly, eating a healthy diet containing an ideal balance of vitamins and nutrients can keep our body fit, energetic and disease-free. Stress eating, indulging in overeating and regular consumption of junk food are some of the habits that should be avoided.
Self-care is essential to improving mental health. People tend to overlook their mental health needs as they remain preoccupied with the wellness of their family members. However, just like we take care of our gadgets to get the best output from them, we also need to practise self-care to live a long, healthy and happy life. Spend some time on your own. Focus on things that make you relax such as taking a hot bath, reading books, writing, listening to or playing music.
The idea is to keep yourself in a cheerful mood and eliminate fatigue. Depending on your schedule and needs, you can create a daily, bi-weekly or weekly self-time window to unwind. Pursuing things that make you happy is also a very potent way of self-care. Some people like cooking, others love playing with children or pet and there are those who love to do gardening and travelling.
Whatever works for you, find it and follow it regularly.
It is true that we want to constantly improve and do better. But we must also acknowledge and appreciate our efforts and things we achieve on the way. Reward yourself and give a mental pat on the back for surviving and thriving in these tough times. Remember, nobody gets desired results always, and if sometimes you under-achieve or fail, it is perfectly okay.
Mental health challenges in this pandemic age are a reality and almost unavoidable. However, what we all need to focus upon is that these issues are curable with the right approach and professional support. By focusing on self-care, taking good care of our physical health, lifestyle habits such as sleep quality and duration, physical exercise, mental relaxation and rejuvenation activities, we can keep ourselves in a good mental shape.
Such good mental fitness is crucial for the society’s and the individual’s growth in the years to come, so let’s just all make a New Year’s resolution to work towards keeping our mental health strong, and earn a pat on the back by keeping the resolution going throughout the
(The writer is the founder of United We Care)
For more lifestyle news, follow us: Twitter: lifestyle_ie | Facebook: IE Lifestyle | Instagram: ie_lifestyle