There has never been a more urgent time to discuss mental health than now. Mental health is as important as physical health. And everyone is entitled to mental healthcare. That is why the theme of World Mental Health Day, for the year 2021 is ‘Mental health care for all: let’s make it a reality’.
The two waves of COVID-19 shook the foundation of how the world functioned and changed our lives completely. Each and every one of us got reminded how interdependent we are on each other when we stayed confined to our homes. As we re-enter social life after COVID-19 slowly, there are a lot of ways in which each of us has been impacted. Greater access to mental welfare is the need of the hour because not only have we all been scarred by the events of the past year and a half, new challenges such as getting used to a new routine all over again await us.
Let us look into how we can prepare ourselves mentally to face the challenge that lies ahead of us.
How COVID-19 impacted our mental well being
It is not just the physical health of people affected due to COVID-19. It is no secret that the pandemic severely impacted the mental health of people around the world. Everybody from COVID affected individuals, non-affected members and even healthcare workers were severely impacted. Uncertainty surrounding the treatment, the daily death toll and loss of jobs around the world put people under severe stress. The shift in daily life activities and staying confined to a space also led to people developing problems like anxiety and depression. The National Mental Health Survey found that around 10% of all adults in India met the diagnostic criteria for mental health conditions.
The World Health Assembly in 2021 brought together several governments from around the world. In the conference, it was recognised that mental health services need to be scaled up. Life after COVID-19 presents newer challenges. You can start preparing yourself mentally to face the new normal and the bigger challenges that lay ahead.
Dealing with mental health post COVID-19
Social distancing, uncertainty, staying locked in and a grim atmosphere took a toll on the mental health of people. With the world slowly returning back to normal, a big challenge is how to deal with the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of people.
Feeling stressed, confused or anxious is very normal and anyone reading this should not feel like they are weak if they experienced the same feelings. Another factor that is taking a toll on our psyche is acclimatizing ourselves to the old pre-COVID routine. We had got used to WFH and managing everything from our homes. Returning to the old norm is especially stressful for people who have trouble with social interactions.
Dealing with these feelings during the pandemic led to a lot of meditation, exercise, yoga and keeping the body healthy. This norm needs to be continued so that we can maintain our mental equilibrium in the post-pandemic world.
For life after COVID-19, the following can be helpful tips to develop mental strength:
1. Focus on everyday actions no matter how small they are
Dealing with new challenges starts with dealing with the small challenges that lay ahead of you. Start setting small goals for yourself like getting physical exercise, reading daily or even remembering to appreciate the nature around you. The feeling of achieving small tasks can translate to a healthy mindset that is ready to face greater challenges.
2. Empower yourself and the people around you
Mental wellbeing is a journey that should not be tread alone. COVID-19 already isolated us enough. Now is the time to engage in positive dialogue and motivate those who are dealing with a negative headspace since the pandemic. The pandemic brought the world together as a community that are facing the same problems. Building a strong support system helps you and others around you to be ready for greater challenges.
3. Set small goals and prepare yourself for the upcoming changes
Going back to work or educational institutes, after staying home-bound for long may give a lot of anxiety to many. Prepare yourself by visualizing your visit and routine at your workplace, interacting with colleagues and pre-visit the campus once or twice to overcome any hesitation. Accustom your daily routine based on the new changes to bring your body clock in sync with the new schedule.
4. Seek help
Mental health has always been a topic associated with mass stigma. The pandemic has forced people to hush mental health issues. The pre-contagion world had a higher level of hesitation for mental health issues. It is now a task for citizens and policymakers to address this and create a ‘new normal’ that is inclusive of the emotional needs of people. There is a clean slate to work with in life after COVID-19. Keep it real, share your emotions, feelings and problems with your loved ones and feel free to seek professional help.
The challenge of creating a new normal considering the needs of all people
Mental wellbeing and overall health should be a priority now. With the learnings from this pandemic, we should be able to plan our goals, finances and education better. Ensuring safety for all by getting vaccinated and following COVID appropriate behaviour is important. The emotional and physical needs of each age group of the society are different and significant. Every member of society and their needs should be taken into account when crafting the strategies for the new normal.
As life after COVID-19 continues there are lots of questions that are posed to humanity as a whole. Are we really ready to face the challenges that lie ahead of us?
Mental wellbeing is one of the factors that affect the whole of humanity in a similar manner. It is not easy to suddenly take a positive outlook after being affected negatively for such a long time. However, as we face new challenges it becomes vital to look for ways to create a better world after the pandemic. To help people face challenges post the pandemic, it has become a need of the hour to address their mental health and help them cope with life. Cooperation and determination can help turn this crisis into an opportunity for improvement.
Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.