I remember clearly, it was a Sunday morning when the suicide news of a promising young actor, Sushant Singh Rajput flashed on one of my media Whatsapp groups. By the time, I had completed reading one or two lines of this news message, it had already gone viral. The first reaction/emotion that I felt at the very moment was of disbelief. Instantly, I switched on the news channel hoping it to be a hoax. But it was not. This news shook many of us. It also brought up a pertinent question that needs to our attention, “Is mental health important?”
Thanks to the pandemic, discomforting silence envelopes our societies. It feels that the world has already ended and we being the sole survivors. The feeling is quite similar to what Will Smith felt in the movie ‘I am Legend.‘
Uncertainty prevailing in many crucial aspects of life. In the past few months, this has become the new normal. It’s rather an irony, how ‘Lockdown’ & ‘Lockup’ are such similar terms.
What is Mental Health:
Mental health is related to the emotional, psychological & social well-being of any person. These terms find relevance in Maslow’s theory of the ‘Hierarchy of Needs’. If you are an MBA post-graduate you must have surely come across this 5-pointer pyramid theory that classifies various aspects of human life that keep him or her motivated.
Hierarchy of Needs and Mental Health:
Physiological needs form the big base of the pyramid which includes food, water, breath and homeostasis. In short, the bare minimum essentials to lead a life.
‘Safety’ is placed above it. Safety needs could be in terms of money, job, health and more. Further up, ‘Social’ needs of a person and its various allies that support a person emotionally like relationships, family, community groups etc. are placed.
The second from the top of this theory of ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ pyramid is ‘Esteem’ which includes appreciation & rewards that the person achieves or wants from society.
Post achieving this, a person moves towards ‘Self-Actualization’. It is that state in a human’s life that he or she rises above the mortal needs and seek nirvana. This state is achieved by great sages or elderly people.
COVID-19 Pandemic & Mental Health
The outbreak of novel Coronavirus was quite sudden. In fact, the world wasn’t prepared for such a pandemic. Hence, the impact felt was more. Right from its outbreak in Wuhan, China to the present day, the pandemic has hit people on various levels.
I remember Donald Trump, referring to it as ‘Chinese Virus’. The video of Prince Charles had gone viral as he followed the Indian tradition of greeting people with folded hands. Ultimately, big or small the impact is on all. In India too, right from the celebs to middle-class & then the daily-wage earning immigrants all have been adversely affected.
What are the Causes of Mental Stress during Pandemic:
From the start of the pandemic until today, the foremost needs of every person as basic as food & health are affected. The long ques of panic-stricken people outside the supermarkets to buy important stuff is proof. This was actually the beginning of pandemic-related mental stress.
With the new household responsibilities, came in the stress of job security & the finances. The richest, well-established to the humblest people, all felt this. Despite, the Prime Minister advising companies not to cut jobs or the salaries, people were left jobless and partly paid.
Work from Home:
Earlier, people working from home were mocked at. During the lockdown period, while working from home many realized the stress in managing the same. Most people ended up working for more hours and working at odd hours which added its two-bits in deteriorating the mental health.
Zero Social movement and Increased Physical Space:
The lockdown resulted in two things, our movement was restricted and all the family members got stuck in the house. I remember telling it to someone that this was the longest time I had shared with my husband post the initial days of our 10 years of marriage. The endless time together in the same space was valuable for some while equally negative for others.
There was an increased workload for women and men. Compatibility was tested to the core. Restriction on even the most insignificant movements outside the home like going out for a walk prevailed. These important lifestyle factors certainly impacted mental health.
The Pause as the Mirror:
Well, the pandemic initiated lockdown was kind of a pause button in all of our lives. We realized the importance of mental well-being. Suddenly we were occupied in doing different kinds of work than the usual. Hardly any time was left for self and yet this phase gave us moments to think about ourselves deeply. Whether it was our growth trajectory or our relationships or successes & failures.
Some derived remarkable improvements in self while it was devastating for a few others. I think the examination of self in the mirror was too overwhelming for some to handle. Hence, Suicides happened!
Mental Health v/s Physical Health:
Most of us are concerned about the physical well-being while mental health is not quite important. During the testing time of this COVID19, as a result, some people reached their thresholds of optimism, didn’t find any hope and gave up their lives. While some came out with exemplary mental health like actor Sonu Sood who helped the government in many aspects.
How to become strong mental health-wise & how to cope with mental stress?
During COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of mental health vis a vis physical & existential needs has been realised. The following things can be done to have a strong mental framework for self:
- Have a close friend who doesn’t judge you. Confide in them all your worries. Remember, two is always a company.
- Maintain a journal in case you don’t have the above. Pour in all your thoughts on the paper.
- Remember successes & failures are just momentary. Say it to yourself, “This too shall pass.”
- Say a little prayer.
- On feeling overtly miserable, talk to an expert.
- Get true with relationships and bond genuinely. The ego & anger is always in your head and not in other person’s.
- Practice a bit of meditation in any form.
- Address your situations and never think of adverse steps like suicide.
Need some more dose of positivity then read this!
Hope this post helps you in narrowing down to the exact factor that is causing you mental stress. Also hoping that the solutions will come handy while combating the same. According to Indian religious scriptures, a soul gets a human body after experiencing 84 lakh yonis. So cherish human life and remember, “Life never gives up on you until you give it up.”
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This post is a part of the Blog train – THE PANDEMIC THAT CHANGED OUR LIFE UPSIDE DOWN initiated by blogger Ila Varma to bring the bloggers together to share numerous experiences of #PandemicLockdown2020.