The COVID 19 pandemic has left all of us in a daze. From sanitising to staying at home for months at a stretch, we have had to adapt, learn and come to terms with new ways and possibilities of daily living. It has put a lot of pressure on our emotional and mental health, and we might not even realise it!
A dominant, pervasive fear related to life, health and finances defines these COVID times. There is a sudden increase of stress in everyone’s lives – collective anxiety. Apart from being worried about themselves, people are also anxious about their close and loved ones – some of them also living in different cities and countries. With many jobs at risk, the financial and economic crisis has only increased anxiety. People in the lockdown are overworking themselves in order to prove themselves capable and keep their jobs.
A 9 to 5 job now takes up more than just eight hours, spending extra hours trying to work harder and meeting highly demanding deadlines only puts extra pressure on the employee. This means more burnout and stress. Apart from financial and job related anxiety, most of us are also extremely anxious about our health. Each day of lockdown is tedious, filled with sanitising, handwashing, steam inhalations, turmeric milk, and vitamin C tablets, while also taking care of keeping other diseases at bay.
One of the biggest signs of anxiety through this period was the sudden hoarding behavior – from rice and milk to soaps. Many individuals ended up buying necessary resources in excess out of fear of the lockdown. In retrospect, this only meant that many people who weren’t privileged or fast enough, could not afford to get even basic items with the sudden inflation of necessary commodities.
In the pre-corona days, most of us relied on social gatherings to be able to relax and enjoy ourselves. But now, our sense of socialising and de-stressing has changed completely. Since the lockdown, the sudden curb of social gatherings has made people feel hopeless, isolated and demotivated due to the lack of physical social connection. A void still exists which cannot be filled with online socialising – which can be frustrating. Most of us find it hard and extremely overwhelming to communicate our feelings or even stay in touch through so many different online mediums. With isolation and the uncertainty of the situation, people have started showing symptoms of depression. They feel hopeless, tired, demotivated, isolated and have a constant feeling of sadness. A surge in the cases of death by suicide is a huge indicator of the number of people who have been psychologically impacted through the pandemic.
Stuck at home, many people took this opportunity as a way of being more productive and following their hobbies. While some might really like and enjoy what they do, many of them overworked themselves. Social media played a big role in this. People pushing themselves to be more productive and creative, only meant that they got burnt out sooner. Something that started off as a hobby and showcasing it on social media, took a toll on a lot of people’s mental health. It made them feel pressured to do well compared to others. Again, many people felt low, inferior and smaller if they did not display or have a hobby to be displayed on social media. Apart from increasing social media addiction, this lockdown also led to more people developing an inferiority complex and feeling smaller.
Living in close quarters with other individuals for long periods of time can also be stress-inducing. There are a lot of expectations at play that could bring hurdles in relationships. The chances of conflicts among families, partners or friends are more in these times of isolation. Always being on high-alert, being stressed or worried about different conversations could also take a toll on an individuals mental health. With rising cases of domestic violence, family members might be going through acute stress, resulting in impulsive decisions, more conflicts and physical and emotional harm.
While we are trying our best, it is important for us to keep a check on our mental health. Our work and personal life mould into one. There are a lot of tasks at hand and not enough time, from household chores to a child’s online classes, we have to handle it all. The psychological effects of this new normal may not all be physically visible on us, but that does not mean that it is non-existent. Keep a check on how stressed you are, how burnt out you’ve been feeling and spend a few hours of the day doing something away from your electronic devices. It might not be as easy to do, as it is to say, but nonetheless, just like we are extremely careful of our physical hygiene in these times, mental hygiene also needs to be taken care of.