Do not ignore tendencies of procrastination, lethargy and fatigue impacting productivity.
Watch out. Be open to talk. Seek help, says Dr Samir Parikh.
With the ongoing lockdown, and restrictions on social distancing, our psychological and mental health is inevitably going to be affected at some point in time.
Despite of the large amount of unknown in this situation, the impact on our mental health is inevitable.
The recent suicide of a leading actor further emphasises the importance of mental health.
Being informed about the impact is essential to avoid any long term impacts even after the lockdown ends, and the pandemic passes!
Here are some warning signs to watch out for and what can be/should not be done about it.
1. Worrying about the uncertainty of the future
Be it in terms of our self, our work, or our relationships, we all are likely to experience thoughts of a worrying nature, especially as we are not aware of what the future shall hold for us.
As the world around us is also struggling with the uncertainty of the future, we are bombarded by constant reminders of this uncertain time.
Instead of letting the worries get the better of us, it is advised that we focus on what is within our control, and what all we can do at the present moment.
This lockdown is something that has been implemented so as to allow us to take the requisite precautions and ensure the health and safety of ourselves as well as of those around us.
2. Inability to balance work-from-home
While a lot of us might be welcoming the change of working from home, with greater flexibility and reduced travel time, being able to strike a work life balance within the home itself can also become a major challenge for a lot of us!
Adjusting to these new work demands can be a struggle. Therefore, it is important that we set up a specific place within our homes as our workspace, and also set aside specific times for our work from home, ensuring we also keep time beyond work.
3. Difficulty in managing roles and responsibilities
Striking a balance here as well is important as well as challenging for a lot of us.
With a reduction in the availability of staff and services coming inside the house, the burden of a lot of roles and responsibilities falls on our shoulders.
Instead of any single individual at home managing all these chores single-handedly, it is important we all step up and delegate responsibilities between ourselves.
Not only will this give us a sense of productivity and achievement during these times, it shall help ease off the burden, give us an opportunity to practice and learn a new skill, and further can help improve the bonds with our family members with a sense of togetherness in sharing household responsibilities.
4. Disruption of lifestyle routine
Our sleep cycles, and mealtimes, and even our exercise regimens, all facets of our functioning are being impacted.
It is vital for all of us to have some sort of structure and routine in place.
Keeping a day off in the week, marking a weekend, is also helpful in preventing ourselves from getting disoriented to the day of the week!
Further, ensuring family mealtimes, a fixed sleeping pattern, as well as fixed slots for physical activity within the home, shall not only help you but shall also help other members of the household to manage and regulate their lifestyle choices as well as spaces within the home more effectively.
Ensuring you take out time for some form of physical activity within the house, or in the garden/balcony if available, is an essential component of your lifestyle at the moment.
5. Constant ruminations and worries about health and safety
With the high accessibility of news and information, it is not uncommon for a lot of us to be glued to the media, be it our phones, the laptop or the television.
It is important that we restrict the amount of information overload we are getting, especially about the pandemic.
We need to have a fixed time of the day to update ourselves of the news, that too from a reliable and authentic source.
Further, it is recommended that we should avoid most of our conversations being centered around discussing the possible implications of the pandemic in the future… this is something shrouded with uncertainty, and none of us is an expert to know what the future holds for us.
Therefore, avoid instilling negativity and anxiety by adding on to each other's fears and worries.
Instead, try and instill a sense of hope, focusing on what we can do collectively to help ward off this virus, while spreading positivity.
In fact, this is where social media platforms can be used to spread positivity, a sense of hope, and connect with each other to help motivate each other as we become more socially responsible.
6. Tendencies of procrastination, lethargy and fatigue impacting productivity
Given the fact that we are being cooped up within the confines of our home, with all our time being our own, it is not uncommon for us to experience a sense of lethargy and fatigue creeping over us.
Be this as simple as not feeling like getting out of the bed, not bathing or grooming ourselves regularly, or being caught in a loop of procrastination of tasks, without a definite deadline on our hands.
In such a scenario, it is again important to reiterate the role of having a specific space and time set aside for yourself for your tasks, ensuring minimum distractions.
To improve your productivity, try and set daily goals for yourself, giving yourself a timeline and a structure to follow each day.
This will help in keeping your routine disciplined and regulated, but also improves one’s sense of self and happiness.
7. Struggling with self-isolation
With the restrictions on our stepping out of the house, face-to-face interactions and socialising does indeed get hindered.
It is important to ensure that you do not fall into a trap of isolating and alienating yourself from the world.
Instead of being cooped up within your shell, utilize this time to reconnect with your loved ones.
Spend time with family members with whom you’re unable to do so during hectic routines.
Use this opportunity to reach out to your friends whom you may have lost touch with over the years.
In fact, even in terms of your work/studies, make an effort to incorporate interactions with your peers or colleagues, which you would have if you had been going to your institution on a regular basis.
This is the opportune time to capitalise on the positive benefits of various social media platforms and network with our loved ones!
8. Difficulty in maintaining boundaries
Being cooped up within the walls of the house, it is important not to let yourself get on each other’s nerves.
Having an ‘overdose’ of the same people 24x7 can at times seem problematic.
Ensure you find time and space for yourself within the home.
Be it for your work or for leisure, make sure that some time of the day is spent with your own self.
Practicing forms of mindfulness at such times can be extremely soothing and helpful in bringing a sense of positivity and calmness to the mind.
9. Increased vulnerabilities to anxiety or mood disruptions
For some of us who may be suffering from an anxiety or a mood disorder prior to the lockdown itself, it is inevitable for our stress levels to be exacerbated at such times.
We need to reach out to our doctors to consult for medical advice, while also reminding ourselves to accept the inevitable, and not allow ourselves to feel overwhelmed.
10. Having an unsatisfactory sense of self
It is probable for some of us to be feeling dull and low, being unable to grapple with the high levels of stress.
But we must take out time for self care each day.
Do something you enjoy, read a book, watch a movie, reach out to a friend, pick up a hobby you enjoy, and give yourself a sense of achievement and positivity during these uncertain times.
In case these feelings persist, feel free to reach out to your near and dear ones to talk about your thoughts and feelings.
Be open to seek help of others -- parents, teachers, peers, friends, colleagues. If you need an unbiased view, seek help from a professional or a helpline number to take the help of an expert.
Dr Samir Parikh is director, department of mental health and behavioural sciences at Fortis National Mental Health Program. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.