22 April

In January 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of a new coronavirus disease, COVID-19. Certainly, it gained pandemic status soon with the effect on 200 plus countries of the world. As the coronavirus pandemic rapidly sweeps across the world, it is inducing a considerable degree of fear, worry, and concern in the population at large and among certain groups in particular, such as older adults, care providers, and people with underlying health conditions.

Feeling pressure, stress and anxiety, variability in energy and activity levels, worrisome, sleeping problems, difficulties in feeling leisure and trouble relaxing are commonly encountered in many of us.  Managing your mental health and psychosocial well-being during this time is as important as managing your physical health.

Due to many circumstances of health conditions, stress and anxiety lead to worsening of mental health status, worsening of chronic diseases, increased use of tobacco, smoking, drugs and alcohol, severe depression, suicidal attempts, unexplained physical symptoms like severe headache, body ache.

Coping with stress will make you, and the community stronger. It’s normal to feel sad, stressed, confused, or scared and angry during the outbreak.

Here are few ways to cope with such mental issues during COVID-19:

  • Take care of yourself through exercise and movement: Some ideas might be walking, stretching, Dancing, Doing Yoga, exercise, play some indoor games.
  • Practice relaxing in the present movement- mindfulness is a way of practicing awareness that can reduce stress. Examples- Vipassana meditation is one of the best examples. Different kinds of meditation also help in reducing blood pressure, symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, makes you more relaxed.
  • Breathing exercise can help calm your body and your mind.
  • Do meaningful things in free time- read a book, listen to audios, learn new skills, write in journals or newspapers, play puzzle games, take online courses in internet, cook something new with ingredients at home, create art or draw or build something, etc.
  • Stay connected with others and maintain your social networks: Social distancing can change how you usually interact with people you care about. Offer help to others if you can and also ask for help if you need, share how you are feeling, call or text your loved ones or family/relatives.
  • If you must stay at home, maintain a healthy lifestyle, including proper diet, sleep, exercise and social contacts.
  • Don’t use alcohol, smoking and substances to deal with your emotions.
  • Ensure all drugs that you are taking for your illness, might be of chronic diseases or mental health issues.
  • Honor carers and healthcare workers supporting people affected with COVID-19 in your community. Acknowledge the support provided by local levels, health offices, hospital or health care institutions.

Immediately contact health care providers in difficult mental health conditions like severe depression, worsening of psychosis, worsening of sleep, panic attack, etc.

Dr. Binod Dangal, MDGP
Health Care Director
Nyaya Health Nepal/ Charikot Hospital
Dolakha, Nepal

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