'Stay Connected With Family But Secure Your Own Space During The Lockdown'
A mental wellness expert’s advice on dealing with a sense of confinement and balancing priorities during the 21-day lockdown
We are social beings and so social distancing can be harsh on our souls. A 21-day lockdown, the first in our lifetimes, may genuinely affect your mental well-being. Reader’s Digest India speaks with psychiatrist and integrative medicine specialist and trustee of The Live Love Laugh Foundation Dr Shyam Bhat on ways to deal with this unprecedented scenario.
How can social distancing affect the mental health of those who are cooped up at home?
For Indians, social distancing is particularly hard because we are by nature more connected. It can affect different people differently. While this period can be especially hard for those who like socializing, even homebodies can feel a loss of autonomy. There is a difference between not wanting to go out and being under lockdown.
How can one deal with claustrophobia or the sense of being confined for 21 days?
Use this time to better manage your emotions and soothe yourself. If you have access to a terrace or a garden, try spending some time there. I recommend five things: sleep well, eat right, exercise regularly, spend some time on social media but not too much (talk to a friend, do a group chat, etc.), and practice mindfulness, meditation and yoga.
However, if you are severely claustrophobic or suffer from anxiety disorders, you must talk to a mental health professional.
Is being at home and working from there changing the dynamics between family members?
It can work both ways, some may see an increase in family friction, while others may see families coming together during these 21 days. Staying connected with your family while having your own space is the key to deal with this situation.
Having said that, there are people who are in a toxic relationship and for them, staying at home 24x7 with that person can be very stressful. In some cases, it can be potentially dangerous with incidents of violence too.
Most professionals are juggling work and domestic chores (in the absence of domestic help) and that can also lead to stress. Stress and the feeling of being under lockdown together can be difficult to deal with.
To what extent are children affected by this lockdown and what can parents do to help them?
It is important that parents have a schedule in place for their children—have a fixed time for going to bed and waking up. Let your kids participate in household chores, this gives them a sense of activity.
Parents should act like leaders—provide your child a sense of safety and security. Fix a time for your kids when they can talk to their friends. Be kind and calm while dealing with your kids, especially under lockdown.