By Ayya Lmahamad
As the world is hit by the COVID-19 that has infected over six million people, most countries have imposed lockdown and quarantine regimes in their territories. The lockdown has been effective in curbing the spread of pandemic. However, there is the other side of the coin – lockdown’s devastating effect on the mental health.
According to Moscow-based survey by psychologists on people's reactions to forced isolation, about 48 percent of respondents indicated fear, 22.2 percent - apathy, and 14.5 percent - stupor. In other words, people have a rather high level of anxiety due to lockdown.
Some psychologists assure that for our brain self-isolation is comparable to sitting in prison.
Of course, there are some people who are comfortable with lockdown, but usually there is a difference between those who live alone and those who do not live alone. They have different risks and different difficulties.
However ironic it might sound, the difficulties of isolation in a family may be due to excessive communication and lack of personal space. Not every family has the opportunity to allocate the apartment area and resources so that everyone can both work and rest. This can be exhausting and lead to breakdowns and conflicts, and sometimes even to divorces. As for example, in early March this year, the number of couples wishing to get divorced in China increased by many times.
Individuals may feel more acutely alone. The elderly however, who live alone and do not have modern means of electronic communication - have actually found themselves in complete isolation.
Moreover, another important impact on our mental health related to quarantine is uncertainty and economic crisis. Loss or threat of job loss, inability to predict when and how it will end destroys the illusion of a stable and predictable future, deprives us of a sense of support.
There was an interesting study from researchers at the universities of Cambridge, Oxford, and Zurich that revealed a stark difference in the way that unhappiness in lockdown is distributed between women and men.
The researchers studied 8.000 people and asked them to reflect on how they had felt during lockdown by using a scale developed by the World Health Organization.
They discovered that the decline in mental health among male respondents was small and statistically insignificant. There were much larger declines in how women reported feeling. Overall, the researchers found that the mental health gender gap had increased by 66 percent in states under lockdown. There can be a plenty of reasons for that, as for example, with schools closed, women are taking on more childcare responsibilities, more homeschooling, as well as more of household tasks, etc.
How to maintain mental health under lockdown
- Create a clear daily routine, stick to it;
- Set goals: Setting goals and achieving them gives a sense of control and purpose. Think about things you want or need to do that you can still do at home;
- Be physically active - it can be everything from cleaning to dancing;
- Remember or find something you like to do that will lift your spirits. It can be anything: sewing, handicrafts, cooking drawing, knitting, repairing home appliances and so on;
- Take a free online training course. With the start of the lockdown, a lot of training schools opened all their training for people without any charge for it;
- Try to culturally educate yourself. A lot of theaters and museums are launching online translation of their works and shows;
- Talk more online with your loved ones, with those you feel good with.
One thing is for sure. COVID-19 will change our lives forever. The lockdown and isolation could be the beginning of what lies ahead for us in the future. It is time to learn to adapt to a new world where social distancing and digital learning can become the new normal.
Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz