NEW DELHI: With COVID-19 putting the entire world at a standstill, it is natural that everyone’s feeling more anxious than ever. In fact, mental health experts have reported an increase in depression and anxiety-related cases in the Capital. To help you and your families cope better, three experts list down various creative ways to keep the mind occupied, lower stress levels, and relax a little.
Ila Kulshreshtha, Clinical Psychologist, Sukoon Healthcare
“We have to get slightly more creative with our routine nowadays, with one that has some semblance to our past routines. So, get dressed while working from home. Limit your intake of daily updates from social media – you can take an update once in a day but it is not advisable to keep on checking for the latest news throughout the day. Focus on breathing techniques – people should do more of diaphragmatic breathing which is breathing from the stomach as opposed to breathing from the chest. Engage your senses at a time when you feel anxious, through grounding meditation (also called 54321 grounding technique). Here, the person needs to focus on five things around them that display five colours, four sounds, three varied textures, two smells and one food item for taste.”
Maitri Chand, Independent Therapist
“We do not know the time frame we are looking at as to when we will be able to defeat COVID-19. This has led to an increase in anxiety and depression. For parents who are struggling to explain to their kids about this situation can say that it is a holiday but a different kind of holiday where we do not go out. Many of my clients are doing this and it helps. They can also say wash your hands in regular intervals of time and reassure them that we will be safe. For adults, it is the best time to tick off the items from their list that can be done within their house.
They can read books, learn new languages and take online courses. It is very important to keep oneself physically and mentally fit so exercise is a must. When faced with panic attacks, do not try to stop it. Don’t say, ‘I am fine, this is just a panic attack and not a heart attack, this too shall pass.’ Make a mental image of a happy place in your mind, be it lounging on a beach or sitting on a couch in your friend’s home. These distances take you away from the anxiety to a certain level. Also, it helps to read two-three jokes a day.”
Jhilmil Breckenridge, Founder, Bhor Foundation (a mental health charity)
“We often suggest to the people dealing mental health issues, to paint as your senses are engaged here. We also suggest journaling your thoughts and even poetry. It helps when you express yourself through these art forms. In these uncertain times, small things like making your bed and doing pranayam helps. These self-care elements go a long way as we believe that a nourished mind leads to a nourished body. At Bhor, we are offering online community meetings on Zoom app through which people can share what they are going through. Called ‘The Listening Circle’, it is not necessary for everyone to share their experiences. If you don’t want to, you are welcome to just listen. Even doing this has been found to help.”