STAY CONNECTED: How to beat the mental anguish caused by the coronavirus

With many nations now on lockdown, our mental resilience and sanity is severely being tested. Almost everyone around the world is feeling panicked and frightened about the coronavirus pandemic. The invisible enemy is not only capable of causing huge physical distress, but it’s also having a huge toll on our mental health too.

Sadly, suicides resulting from the coronavirus are already a problem worldwide. Stories of traumatised frontline nurses that have taken their own lives, as well as those that have lost their businesses, are becoming common. People from all walks of life from anxious teenagers to anguished footballers are on suicide-watch because of the pandemic, according to several mental health charities, who confirm that ‘suicide-related’ calls are on the up.

In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the coronavirus crisis and the restrictive measures that many countries are taking to contain the outbreak can have a negative impact on people’s mental health and well-being, “Isolation, physical distancing, the closure of schools and workplaces are challenges that affect us, and it is natural to feel stress, anxiety, fear and loneliness at this time,” stated Hans Kluge, director of Europe’s WHO, just yesterday.

People are increasingly becoming anxious about their financial security and the future of their jobs. Being separated from loved ones, losing our freedom and being confined to our homes, is causing mental anguish that’s difficult to deal with. Coronavirus is not only a deadly disease, but it’s also wreaking havoc on the mental health of so many. That’s why it’s absolutely vital to keep an eye on our neighbours, family and friends more than ever.

It’s vital for us all to look out for our loved ones, especially those who may feel isolated or alone. Reach out and check in on them to see how they are coping – ‘virtually’ of course. Thanks to Facetime, Skype, Zoom, etc, it’s never been easier to catch up with friends and family – so take full advantage of it.

However, be mindful of the content you are sharing on social media, especially if it’s coronavirus-related. Make sure it’s from a trusted source, and try not share content that’s likely to cause more anxiety for friends or family. If you have teenagers or young adults at home struggling with the lockdown, talk to them often, suggest new strategies to create distractions and find new ways of connecting with their friends. If you have younger children, communicate with them too about what’s happening as truthfully as possible, without distressing them.

Don’t forget to look after your own mental health. If reading or watching news causes feelings of anxiety or distress, limit your intake. But don’t avoid it completely because it’s important to be updated. Keep physically and mentally active. There are a plethora of activities you can do online from zumba to yoga, to taking cooking lessons or learning a new language. Use this time to do all those things that you never really had the time for, whether it’s clearing out your wardrobe, learning a new skill, playing board games or putting together a jigsaw with your children, or watching that series you never got round to watching.

Finally, try to focus on the positive. If nothing else, this outbreak has brought us closer together and has humbled us into appreciating the things in life that money can’t buy – such as our health and quality time with family, not to mention the things that we took for granted, like our freedom. And remember, the only way to really beat the coronavirus – both physically and mentally – is by actually staying home, staying safe and staying connected!

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Written by

Pepi Sappal

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