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How Do You Deal With Severing Relationships in the COVID Pandemic?

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Health News
4 min read
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Sujoy Rathi an active ten-year-old stares at his laptop sitting listlessly while doing his assignments.

His best friend and classmate Rohan calls him every evening and though they speak for a long time, the conversation isn't joyful or energetic.

For the last one-and-half year the world has seen so much unprecedented suffering, that the freedom of living in the pre-COVID19 time seems unreal.

The Pandemic and Lockdown

The pandemic has affected us physically, mentally, and psychologically.

People are coping with anxiety, sadness, sorrow, and grief. Humanity is experiencing collective grief about losing people, connections, the inability of meeting relatives and friends and a familiar way of living.

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The looming fear of illness, its seriousness, lockdowns, restrictions, being homebound all the time, and adjusting to a strange unimagined way of life is disturbing.

The constant bombardment of negative news about how the virus is mutating and spreading is affecting our mental health.

This phase has been especially difficult for kids and teenagers who thrive on outings, meeting friends, and outdoor life.

There has been a grave social disconnect and families have been forced to be together for long periods.

Online classes and work from home have resulted in the adjustment of time, space, and sharing electronic gadgets, resulting in frustration, anger, and heated discussions that are draining.

Facilitator and Counsellor, Chandrika R Krishnan says,

"Staying closeted for such lengthy periods is causing a feeling that we are spiralling out of control and many of us have developed an anxiety relating to stepping out."
Chandrika R Krishnan, Facilitator and Counsellor

Losing Connections

The second wave of the pandemic was quite severe. Every family has experienced the loss of either relatives or friends. Many family members and friends have relocated. Friends and colleagues whom we met every day but now can’t.

Sujoy who is close to his grandparents hasn’t met them for a more than a year. They reside in another city and with travel restrictions the family is connected through phone calls. While speaking with his grandparents Sujoy is worried about their health and safety.

From the times of being hunter-gatherers to the modern period, humans have always thrived in tribes. In the past, we needed tribes to survive in the wild.

Today, we are not in the jungles, but we still need family and friends, the connections that form our tribes for our physical and emotional well-being.

How to Deal?

The uncertain nature of the pandemic is creating panic. People are becoming impatient as no one knows how long the phase will last. Though stress is a common reaction, and some amount of stress is healthy, chronic stress however, plays havoc resulting in serious health consequences.

It is important to address this grief. We need to talk and communicate our feelings, worries, and thoughts. Burying or ignoring emotions isn’t healthy. Sharing it on phone or through emails can help in addressing these concerns.

As psychotherapist and grief advocate, Megan Devine, in her book It’s OK That You’re Not OK , says," You don't need solutions. You don't need to move on from your grief. You need someone to see your grief, to acknowledge it.”

What are Experts Saying?

We are experiencing collective grief and loss. Kids need to understand to cope with these complicated emotions.

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“Sleep patterns have been disturbed. Being online, housebound and unable to meet anyone in the social setup is a definite cause for stress”, explains Chandrika. She feels that acknowledging the issues while being balanced can be helpful.

Sajitha Rasheed, Chief Mentor, Mind Mojo says, “Communication is key. Giving information about what, why and how is crucial”.

Coping with these circumstances, children may become moody, angry, throw tantrums, or go inwards and may get addicted to TV, phone, and computer screens, she explains.

There is a concern about how the future will be. As Sajitha points out “Many are facing social anxiety wondering how they will react when they meet people in future.”

Things are challenging for both parents, and kids. “Accepting the uncertainty, overlooking some amount of misbehaviour, talking about their insecurities, encouraging them to meet a couple of friends and engaging in family time activity is important” suggests Chandrika.

Tips From Experts

  • Try to have meals together

  • Pray together either morning or evening

  • Watch movies, do activities like solving puzzles, crosswords, sketching and painting together

  • Encourage kids to participate in household chores

  • Have frequent video calls with family and friends

  • Allow kids to spend time with neighbour kids if you are sure, they are COVID free

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  • Have sleepovers with friends ensuring they are COVID free

  • Encourage kids to lend a helping hand in the society like helping senior citizens to book slots for vaccination, call them to find if they have enough supplies, medicines, food or need any help.

  • Encourage kids to dance, do regular exercise, stretching and eye exercises

  • Ensure that kids get adequate sunshine morning/evening for Vit D

  • Have a pet, fish, dog, kitten, or rabbit. It makes a huge difference.

Strengthening the family bonds can help kids and teenagers to deal with this complex situation. Try to keep the communication channels open. Parents are also experiencing challenges and are worried. However, parents need to take care of themselves and their kids.

As Chandrika, suggests, “Uncertain times need uncertain measures. Lots of patience, much understanding, creative solutions are required to keep the family together and sane.”

(Nupur Roopa is a freelance writer and a life coach for mothers. She writes articles on environment, food, history, parenting, and travel.)

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