This is an advisory for mental health issued by the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (IMHANS) in Kashmir amid the growing cases of Covid-19 and three weeks of lockdown.
While we stay home, disconnected from our work and social connections, with uncertainty and fear around, it is very easy to succumb to negative thoughts, boredom and frustration. Fear is as old as human race and perhaps the only emotion responsible for human survival on earth in presence of danger, death and devastation. We should have it in appropriate doses to help us overcome this crisis as well. However, when fear is excessive, it becomes disabling.
Here is a list of things you can do, as formulated by our mental health experts, to keep yourself mentally healthy and productive in these difficult times.
- Stay connected in virtual world through phones, WhatsApp etc. You can make groups on various social media platforms, of extended families and friends. Ask about well being of each other, but don’t remain stuck with Corona talk. Use humour and reassurances liberally. Remind each other of past worser situations from which we emerged unscathed. Smile on video calls, if you are not able to, force one. Neighbours should continue chatting and socialising through windows (provided that windows are 2 meters apart) as was norm in yesteryears. Revive the old tradition of ‘Daraev kin darbar’.
- Invoke your belief in destiny while exercising all necessary precautions. Practising your faith in solace of your rooms will help you to connect with GOD like never before and help you to ward off anxieties.
- Don’t make children fearful. Educate them in a way that it doesn’t seem end of the world. When we teach our children how to cross a road ,we don’t make them fearful by talking about worst accidents, we just teach them how to be safe.
- Keep your children engaged by innovating play methods. Most of us try to restrict mobile and TV use by kids, but this time it seems to be a safer alternative to playing with other children. Watch what your children are viewing and schedule their screen timing. Keep regular routines and schedules as much as possible, or help create new ones in new environment.
- Don’t watch hyperbolic news channels ,especially in front of your kids. In older children, this is the best time to inculcate habit of book /comic reading and story telling.
- Reading books of your interest ,resting and sleeping in appropriate doses will all help.
- Lonely walks within your premises wherever possible can be very refreshing.
- Humour is important. As adults, we understand that it is an immense crisis but that should not deter us from cracking a joke. Don’t scold kids for laughing out loud. Let us live in present, moment by moment. Past is gone and future is not in our control. Think of things that you can control.