EMOTIONAL HEALTH DURING LOCKDOWN
“The schools will remain closed until further orders.’”
“You cannot go out to meet your friends.”
“Tomorrow is a holiday”
“You have been diagnosed with Corona.”
“I baked a chocolate cake for you.”
What an emotional roller coaster, right?
Yes, that’s what we have been riding onto these days. This historical period of pandemic has brought forward issues that have been unforeseeable, unpredictable, and very challenging, at individual, interpersonal, social, national, and global level. We are getting to spend increased quality time with our families (most of us, not all!), and on the other hand, so many of us are losing our jobs, facing health issues, are unable to deal with this unavoidable and omnipresent situation of uncertainty. We all are making efforts to assimilate into this new normal, either by embracing it or by giving in after constantly fight against it. What is this new normal anyway? A new way of life? Rapidly changing socio- cultural norms? A tug war between adaptation and adoption, integration and separation, assimilation and marginalization? Nobody has a concrete explanation for this. It’s like we all are in midst of a Fall Guys game where we all are mindlessly running around with a strong driving force of survival steering our momentum. And, in this imaginary race, we have become oblivious of the fact that we are constantly in a flight-or- fight mode, sidelining our health, especially psychological and emotional aspects of it!
WHO has defined health as an overall state of well- being, and, not just absence of a disease or illness. This includes not just physical health, but also mental, emotional, and social well- being. Among all these parameters, we end up ignoring our emotional health the most. Emotional health is indicative of a state of awareness, acceptance, and presence of an ability to manage ones emotions, both, positive and negative. This becomes a test of endurance during times of change or challenge, like that of today. Being emotionally healthy does not mean that you’re always in a positive emotional state, or are being always happy. It’s on the other hand, all about resilience, where we know how to get up when we fall! If one is emotionally healthy, one shall ideally be consciously aware of one’s emotions, is able to regulate or control them as per the demands of the situation, and is always accepting of one’s emotional states. Remember, it’s okay not to be okay! We just need to be awake and aware, regulation automatically follows, as by nature, human beings cannot live in a state of conflict, so, once you are aware of your emotions and you accept them as they are, rather than bottling them up inside by constantly ignoring them; you start making efforts to manage them, to cope up and solve this internal turmoil or conflict. Theoretically, it sounds pretty smooth as a process right? But, I agree, this is no cakewalk. You need to be brave to accept your emotions, you need to mindful enough to be aware of your emotions, and you need to toil hard in order to manage them. We shall first start with being aware and conscious of our emotions. You will be amazed by the fact that we are living in our own bubbles, seeing the world with our tinted glasses. And, when we start introspecting, seeing within ourselves, we are already half-way towards being an emotionally healthy being.
Various researches have shown that during such emergency situations, like lockdown, individuals often face a state of panic which has been associated with significant mental health problems ranging from anxiety, fear, depressive symptoms, sense of loneliness, sleep disturbances, anger, etc. This leads to a vicious cycle of decline of overall health and well- being as all the dimensions of health are interrelated and inter- dependent on each other, they are not watertight compartments. A negative impact on emotional health would in turn affect overall mental health, which would then also lead to an impact on our physical and social health. And, this cycle continues, until we strike the cause and amend it.
According to a recent research by Chakraborty K, Chatterjee M. Psychological impact of COVID-19 pandemic on general population in West Bengal: A cross-sectional study. Indian J Psychiatry 2020;62:266-72, about 71.8% and 24.7% of the research participants felt more worried and depressed, respectively, in the past 2 weeks. Around 37.1% of the respondents became more irritable and almost half of the participants (more than 50%) were preoccupied with the idea of contracting COVID-19. Surprisingly, around 21.1% of them were repeatedly thinking of getting themselves tested for the presence of COVID-19 despite having no symptoms. A whopping 64.9% of people found that COVID-19 pandemic had affected their mental status to some extent. The research also indicated towards an important finding that although all the participants were well- educated and aware of the available modes of help, both, medical and psychological, only around 2% of them actively seek help during trying times!
At Delhi Public School Ghaziabad Vasundhara, we have an active team of well- trained and experienced mental health professionals like counselors, life skills trainers, and special educators, who are available round the clock to provide a helping hand to all our beloved students. The school runs a regular School Health Program, conducts Life Skills Enhancement Sessions, provides one- to- one behavioral counseling support, runs a renowned Peer Educators Program, has a facility of wellness club, provides utmost developmental support to children via CARE cell, has an active cyber support team, and hence, take all possible measures to support and catalyze inclusive education, thereby fostering holistic development of our students.
During these testing times of limited contact, we need to take charge and seek help whenever required. A little help, a small effort of professional guidance, and the courage to take onus of our own health, is a necessity rather than a choice. We may not have control over the situations outside, but we always have control over ourselves. Barack Obama has very rightly said- “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and then allows you to learn something new.”