Wednesday, July 28

Quarantine blues and how to beat them

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“I feel trapped. I am all alone in this city. I am working from home and so unable to meet my colleagues. Due to sudden shutdown of flight and train services, I feel like a prisoner. Though I understand the logic behind this isolation, I feel confused and depressed.”

Hundreds of youngsters locked in their city of work feel desperate and confused in this sudden change that the world is facing today. They are worried about their career and the economic impact that this illness is going to build.

Quarantine is causing negative psychological impact amongst the majority of people. There is a high probability that the effect would increase and persist even after we overcome this crisis period, just like the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Is the crisis developing only in the mind of youngsters? No, almost everybody is affected by it.

People who have elderly parents who stay on separate premises are suffering from separation anxiety and frustration because of inability to meet them regularly. Elderly persons who are above 80 years of age are generally rigid and do not want to accept the facts of reality. They refuse to relocate themselves to their son or daughter’s residence for an indefinite period. They prefer to stay alone with their maid in the safety of their own house, escalating the anxiety in their son or daughter’s life.

The young adults have difficulty in coping with their “work from home” status along with their children, who would hardly give them the privacy to work.

Children feel they are the worst hit in this situation. Though the schools are closed, parents are not allowing them enough freedom to sit idle, watch television or even go out of the house to play. Often the anxiety of parents is displaced on children, creating a panic situation at home.

The typical psychological reactions as of now are:

Acute anxiety
Confused state of mind
Inability to make a decision
Isolated feeling
Excessively obsessed with cleaning germs and taking protection
Paranoid feelings while meeting strangers
Losing interest in life

Combating this sudden change is essential. It is a situation which no one of us is prepared to deal with.

We do not have any training to battle this sudden transformation. A few strategies are shortlisted:

For children

Children need to know about the situation. Parents should explain the situation to them from a positive angle. Children need to know that change is the most constant component of life but nothing to be afraid of if dealt with properly.

Seasons change, human body changes with age along with plants and nature. It is the time when the whole universe is witnessing a change at the same time irrespective of the location, religion or other divisive measures generally laid by society.

So, they need to feel united in spite of this physical distancing which is increasing each day. They are witnessing and being a part of creating a new history in human civilisation.

Don’t talk about the crisis all the time
Focus on creativity and encourage them to learn and try out art and handicrafts work through different YouTube channels
Make them follow a routine
Give them scope to play, even if they need to play on the computer as it is the only option left for them right now
Ask them to exercise/dance and remain active
Ask them to focus on the positive influences in their lives
Make them a part of daily household chores which could develop a sense of responsibility amongst children

For adults

It is obvious that as adults, there would be a lot of anxiety to bring the situation under control but don’t panic
Try not to shout or show anger
Try to connect with your friends and loved ones through phone, Facebook and other forms of social media
Relax. You can learn proper relaxation therapy and relax
Start some creative art forms in your idle time
Don’t watch news all the time when you are awake. Constant watching of the news won’t change the reality. One can watch TV serials or read a story book, instead
Try to create a common family time where all the members of the family can be engaged in some pleasurable activities together
One can try out new recipes
You can also change some of the roles to make your life more interesting like husband sharing the work of wife and vice versa
You can write down your anxieties and how you think you can manage them
If needed, you can make a video call to a counsellor for proper advice.

It is a difficult period for people with special needs and their family members. Keeping oneself isolated from society could be detrimental for them in the long run. The small businessman, the daily labourer and the poor might face acute anxiety because of this sudden imposed isolation and uncertainty.

Ishita Sanyal is a psychologist and founder-director of Turning Point, a mental rehabilitation organisation


Source: The Telegraph

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