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Five tips for your mental health in the COVID-19 quarantine

The number of confirmed Corona virus cases rose to 20 in Pakistan as of Wednesday, 11th March’2020. This number is greatly under reported because of lack of awareness amongst the masses. Globally, 126,483 cases have been reported with 4,636 deaths. In this time, it is necessary for people to quarantine themselves to reduce the disease from spreading. However, isolation can take a toll on your mental health. For those who are already suffering from mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, the quarantine may feel like imprisonment, worsening their condition.

“Quarantine is especially difficult for people who have underlying psychological problems. It feels like being a prisoner who is punished by being forced to live in solitary confinement,” says psychiatrist Carole Lieberman.

“And, besides having underlying problems, such as anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and so on, everyone is being whipped up into mass hysteria and some are having panic attacks based on fear of getting Corona virus—even before being quarantined.”

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations.

The emotional impact of an emergency on a person can depend on the person’s characteristics and experiences, the social and economic circumstances of the person and their community, and the availability of local resources. People can become more distressed if they see repeated images or hear repeated reports about the outbreak in

the media. Quarantine also means having a lot of time to yourself and your family members. This may mean feeling more anxious and depressed, especially if you have a diagnosed mental health issue. However, it may affect anyone who might find themselves in an isolation situation.

Reactions during an infectious disease outbreak can include:

  • Fear and worry about your own health status and that of your loved ones who may have been exposed to COVID-19

  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns

  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating

  • Worsening of chronic health problems

  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

These reactions are natural for anyone. Here are five tips that you can follow to maintain your mental health during this time.

Maintain a sense of community Someone with anxiety and/or depression might find their situation worsening when spending long periods of time alone. If the country goes into shut down, it is important to communicate with friends and family via text, video, and phone. This will help you to stay in touch with people, and talk it out so that you feel less anxious and depressed. With family members, board games are a good option to keep busy. It will be nostalgic and make you feel like you are transported to that time in your childhood when board games were played during family sleepovers. Take care of yourself This may seem obvious, but if you’re stuck in one place for an extended period of time, it’s not an excuse to stop your regular health routines. During a difficult time, it’s important to focus on the basics, like making sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating regularly (and well), taking any medications as prescribed, and exercising. While you may not be able to hit the gym or go for long walks outside, you can at least walk around your home or do a few exercises at home to keep your body moving. Make sure your basic needs are being met and focus on keeping a routine. This can be tremendously helpful in ensuring that you are in the best possible place to manage emotional distress. Practice self-soothing

A lot of us living with depression and/or anxiety have developed some methods of self-soothing. Some people might find yoga or stretching soothing for their mental health. Try to do things that help you stay calm and relaxed, whether that’s listening to certain music, rereading a favorite book, or re watching FRIENDS for the millionth time. And while you’re at it, avoid any fear-mongering news stories or programs, along with people who might get you even more anxious and worked up about COVID-19. Keep your mind busy One of the most challenging parts of being on your own for long stretches of time is not being held to any sort of schedule. One way to get around this is to stick to a routine. If you are at your own home, create a routine so that you can manage your time efficiently. Being in the house can cause you to binge shows or scroll social media mindlessly and can cause you to become off balance. If you find yourself with a lot of free time and aren’t sure how to spend it, find a topic you’re interested in and start a small, information research project where you look into a certain area and learn more about it. Always wanted to learn more about different species of monkeys, or the history of airplanes? Now’s the time. But try to stick to a schedule, to add structure to your day. Have time limits set and set an alarm or reminder to stop looking and take a break too. Try online therapy services Though this isn’t an option for everyone, during isolation, online therapy services can help you feel more relaxed and help you talk about what is bothering you. If you are already seeing a therapist, contact them for arranging an online session. Online therapy services have been shown to be just as effective as in-person services for most mental health conditions. If you don’t already work with a therapist, but feel as though you could use some extra support, online therapy and counseling could help you to cope up with feelings of distress and anxiety in this period.

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