May is celebrated as Mental Health Month or Mental Health Awareness Month across the world. Incepted since 1949, first in the United States and then the world over, Mental Health Month has done more to remove the stigma associated with mental illness in our society, creating the necessary infrastructure and support systems from families, friends to anonymous support groups. Academia and industry too have been sensitized to this creating an equal opportunity scenario for those who suffer from mental illness or mental health issues, be it chronic or acute.
May of 2020 and 2021 gain particular significance in the light of Mental Health as we are all stressed and strained with the uncertainty of the global pandemic and its unmissable effect on all our lives. Most of us have stayed indoors for longer than a year, a phenomenon that is alien to all but few, particularly those who suffer from agoraphobia, yet another mental condition where the person fears or is clinically apprehensive and anxious of crowded places.
When forced to do unnatural things for long periods of time, all of us develop some variant or the other of mental health issues, not unlike the soldiers in combat developing PTSD, the after effects of this lockdown is going to ripple through time affecting all of us, from the very young to older people.
The need of the hour is to try and reduce the stress and anxiety so that the aftereffects of this episode are mitigated. Here are a few of our suggestions, curated from the think tanks across the spectrum with our own zing added to it.
- Have a routine – We are all creatures of habit and having a routine is how and why most of us keep our sanity. So, wake up and go to bed at the same time everyday, maintain personal hygiene, eat and exercise at regular intervals.
- Keep informed with what is happening locally and to an extent worldover, but do not be stuck like a fly in honey to newsfeeds, at least not to newsfeeds that are more inciting and instigating rather than informing and intellectually stimulating. Also, read about your industry and interests to keep updated.
- Social contact is important, with family and friends, even with those living under the same roof. Allocate time, make plans same as going out to spend time with friends through video calls or even online gaming sessions to make it more interactive. We also recommend learning something new, a shared experience always creates greater bonds. Choose from one of the many fun learning activities and experiences from our own Cece Stream.
- If you are a parent, needless to say, your responsibilities are more. Children too thrive with routine, so ensure to maintain old ones and create new ones. Shielding children from the facts of the world is never a good idea. Knowledge enables everyone, even the little ones. So talk about the novel coronavirus in an approachable and honest way, so that they too feel ownership of the situation and not feel victimized.
Mental Health Awareness is an important responsibility, take time to educate yourself and those around you about the various common disorders and conditions and how to handle if a loved one is afflicted by one such.
A wonderful resource to know more about what you can do to help yourself and others during these difficult times is here.