COVID-19 started in December 2019, like a viral outbreak in Wuhan city of central Hubei province of China (Holshue et al., 2020). Over a period of few weeks, the infection spread across the globe in rapid pace (WHO, 2020b). Looking at the number of countries this outbreak spread to, WHO declared it a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30th January 2020 (WHO, 2020b, 2020c). On 11th February, WHO announced a name for the new coronavirus disease: COVID-19. On the 11th of March, WHO declared COVID-19 – a pandemic as by then about 114 countries were affected (WHO, 2020c).
Coronaviruses, so named due to the outer fringe of envelope proteins resembling crown (‘corona’ in Latin), are a family of enveloped RNA viruses. They are generally pathogenic to mammals and birds and cause mild upper respiratory tract infections in humans. They occasionally can be transmitted to a larger human population and can cause severe respiratory illnesses exemplified by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2003 and 2012, respectively. As COVID19 is a new disease and is having the most devastating effects globally, its emergence and spread causes confusion, anxiety and fear among the general public.
The precaution during this pandemic situation is based upon isolation and social distancing. The anxiety and concerns in society are globally affecting every individual to variable extents. Recent evidence has suggested that individuals who are kept in isolation and quarantine experience significant distress in the form of anxiety, anger, confusion and post-traumatic stress symptoms.
Anxiety can be defined as an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure. Anxiety disorder shares features of excessive fear and anxiety (anticipated future threat) and behavioural issues. There are various types of anxiety disorders such as, specific phobia, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, substance or medication induced anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, selective mutism, agoraphobia and other unspecified anxiety disorder.
Ways to deal with anxiety and isolation during lockdown
- Grounding exercise
Sometimes, we’re so anxious that we can’t even think through the above. If you are at the point of panic, follow the below exercise. Look around you and find:
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can touch
- 3 things you can hear
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
- Try supplements or change your diet
Changing your diet or taking supplements is definitely a long-term strategy. Research shows certain supplements or nutrients can help anxiety reduction. These include:
- Lemon balm
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Green tea
- Valerian root
- Kava kava
- Dark chocolate (in moderation)
Exercising regularly, eating balanced meals, getting enough sleep, and staying connected to people who care about you are great ways to stave off anxiety symptoms.
- Practice focused, deep breathing
Try breathing in for 4 counts and breathing out for 4 counts for 5 minutes total. By evening out your breath, you’ll slow your heart rate which should help calm you down.
Whether they’re in oil form, incense, or a candle, scents like lavender, chamomile, and sandalwood can be very soothing. Aromatherapy is thought to help activate certain receptors in your brain, potentially easing anxiety.
- Write three things you are grateful for. You can also write a gratitude letter for your loved one.
- Do exercise daily and have a proper sleeping schedule. Spend less time on anxiety provoking news and social media posts.
You can use different apps for calming music, meditation or for help. For example – FeelJoy app.
- Isolation and lockdown is a difficult situation through which we all are going. You can stay connected to your loved ones and close friends through the virtual world. Talk, laugh and share it will make you feel good and socially connected.
- There are a lot of free services on counselling through calls and chats that will help you during this time.
- Don’t stress too much about achieving new skills or being productive. It’s okay to relax and rest to re energize yourself.
- Numerous self-care activities and relaxation techniques are available to help you feel more calm, peaceful, and in control. Some of the most common relaxation strategies include breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization.
- Yoga practice involves a joining of the body, mind, and spirit. Through breath work, meditation, movements, and relaxation, yoga can help restore a sense of personal balance.
- Light Stretching/Exercises: 10-15 minutes of light stretching includes poses such as pelvic tilts, cat-cow stretches, downward facing dog, low lunge, straight leg lunge, mountain pose and raised arms pose, standing forward bend, pigeon pose, and corpse pose.
- Expressive arts therapy combines psychology and the creative process to promote emotional growth and healing. This multi-arts, or intermodal, approach to psychotherapy and counselling uses our inborn desire to create—be it music, theatre, poetry, dance, or other artistic form—as a therapeutic tool to help initiate change. There are certain activities like painting, expressing through writing, music, engaging in clay making.
- Plantation and cooking – these activities involve tactile stimulation and attention, to indulge in these activities while staying at home would provide a sense of productivity, and contribution for the betterment of skills in the household.
- You can learn new skills or indulge in creative activities with people you are living or through virtual worlds. To stay connected and spend time together during isolation.
These are the certain ways which you can consider in dealing with your anxiety and isolation during lockdown. Believe in yourself that you can get through this phase. We all are in this together.
Find a BUDDY to share all your problems with (even anonymously, if you want) on the FeelJoy Mobile App available for all Android users.