These are hard times. It’s not just a deadly pandemic that has gripped the world, but everything that comes with it . While we isolate ourselves at home, many of us are working as usual and taking additional responsibilities. Be it looking after children, elderly family members or just doing domestic chores that we usually had help for. Many of us are confined in our homes by ourselves, adding to a kind of loneliness that most of us haven’t experienced before. Streets are eerily empty. And news and social media are filled with all things coronavirus. All of this can be massively overwhelming, depressing and leave the best of us, utterly hopeless. But we have to stay strong - physically and emotionally, if we have to ride this out. So, here are a few telltale signs that your mental health is in some dire need of TLC.
Watch your eating habits. Some of us cope with stress and uncertainty by eating a lot more than usual and a lot of feel good, calorie laden, junk food. Once in a while, that’s not a bad thing. But if you find yourself reaching for that bag of chips every time you feel the uncertainty creep up, it maybe worth pausing for a second and instead of eating your feelings, think about what is really bothering you. Similarly, if you find yourself with a decreased appetite, that can also be a sign of anxiety. Take it head on, if you can. Try to eat healthy and on time, like you would before you were confined in your house. And if you are not able to deal with eating too much or too little, seek help, talk to someone.
You are already in physical isolation, but are you also staying away from your family and friends? Are you avoiding their calls, zoom parties and not responding to any attempt to reach out to you, more than usual? We all need some ‘alone time’ or ‘me time’ , but if all you want is me time, when you are already practicing social distancing and in a lockdown, it might be time to ask yourself, why you are not missing some human connection.
Chances are your workload has increased. Especially if you are a parent, or the primary caregiver to someone ill or elderly. You might be feeling a little more tired than usual. But there’s also a chance that your routine hasn’t changed much, except that you are at home. But you still maybe feeling more tired than usual, or even tired all the time. This could be a sign that you are mentally exhausted. And this can often lead to increased anxiety and stress. Do reach out to friends if you can or look out for an online counsellor, who may be able to give you tips on how to deal with exhaustion.
Netflix, friends, reading a book, exercising or even work- is nothing catching your fancy anymore? If you find yourself disinterested in almost everything, it’s time to stop and think if there’s something else that is bothering you.
Experts say it is okay to have a good cry, every once in a while, just to let it all out of your system. But if you find yourself, feeling overwhelmed and having emotional outbursts at everything from a cute cat video to cleaning your kitchen, there might be something deeper and more serious that needs to be addressed.
The thing with anxiety, depression and other mental health problems is that they take a huge toll on our self worth and image. If you are feeling worthless or low on confidence, it is something that should be addressed as soon as possible.
These are uncertain times, with uncertain timelines. We are all bound to feel some amount of anxiety. But it is important to remember that we can’t let anxiety overtake our daily life, and it has a sneaky habit of doing that. So, if you find yourself feeling so anxious that you can’t function, first take a deep breath. There are many ways to control anxiety and if you can, you should try and find an online counsellor, who could help you with these techniques. And do talk to someone you trust, about it.
These are some of the helplines set up by the government to help cope with anxiety and stress of COVID-19:
Mumbai-based mental health organisation mPower and the government of Maharasthra and BMC: 1800-120-820050
Poddar Foundation and Rotary Club of Bombay: 1800-121-0980
Assam Police and the Department of Psychiatry, GMCH and Clinical Psychologists/psychiatric Social Workers: 6026901053/54/55 or 6026901056/57/58.