Managing Emotional Turmoil during Covid-19 & Healthy Lifestyle for Covid–survivors

The Covid-19 pandemic, especially the second wave, has exacerbated the mental health crisis in India. This time has no doubt been among the toughest of all our lives’, what with losing loved ones, isolation, uncertainty, quarantine and even survivor’s guilt. Unsurprisingly, mental health experts report that the number of cases and consultations regarding anxiety, PTSD, depression and more have substantially increased, especially in the second wave. 

On a positive note, the pandemic helped shed light on the need for mental health awareness and destigmatised it to an extent. 

Social media has played a key role in the management of this emotional turmoil. Many trained experts have turned to online platforms, offering sessions to those who need it. Considering the Financial Crisis and severity of Mental health Status, some even do it pro bono.

 

What are the Emotional Challenges and How to Cope with Them

A common problem faced by people has been termed “pandemic fatigue”- the exhaustion we feel after spending immense time and energy adapting to this new lifestyle and its struggles. 

Grieving, or rather, the lack of it is particularly hard to face. In normal circumstances, we would grieve the loss of a loved one together as a community. This offers closure and acceptance, as well as the strength to go through the journey. However, that is not possible now. This makes it all the more important to seek help from loved ones, connect with them, vent out and even seek professional help if required. 

A few effective coping strategies are given below. They may not make the stress, anxiety and fatigue magically disappear but will certainly aid you in coping with it all in a safe and healthy manner.

  • Share memories

 

Talk about the people you lost freely with those close to you. Sharing your favourite memories of them helps ease the pain. Go through old photographs, remember them in a positive manner.

  • Have a hobby

 

Do the things that make you happy and calm. Such activities bring a sense of connecting with yourself and provide something to divert your attention towards. A hobby also provides you with a sense of purpose.

  

  • Stay active

 

Being physically active in any form, be it walking, stretching, yoga or dance has several proven benefits for the mind as well as the body.

 

  • Eat right

Eating nutrition-filled food will not only keep you healthy and improve your immune system, but will also positively impact your mental health. So, go ahead, have those greens, fruits, home cooked food and plenty of water. Consult a dietician if required.

 

  • Limit time on Social Media

Overexposure to negative news will only increase stress and anxiety. Set a time limit for yourself and do things you enjoy instead.

 

  • Have a gratitude journal

Write down, on a daily basis, things you are thankful for. These could be simple things like, having good food, a pet or a loved one, staying safe. Doing so will make you realise how much you do have in spite of the pandemic and will definitely improve mental health.

 

  • Stay in touch with loved ones

Social distancing does not equate to emotional distancing. Spend quality time with your loved ones, physically (if they live with you) or virtually. We are social beings and we need company to thrive. 

 

  • Music

Music truly is the strongest form of magic. Listen to songs that make you happy and have karaoke sessions with your friends online.

 

  • Meditate

 

This again, has several proven benefits. It might seem difficult at first but you will soon get used to it. Meditating will help keep yourself calm and focused.

 

  • Seek professional help

Mental health is just as important as physical health. If you feel you need professional help, feel free to immediately contact professionals. Several sites are available for just that.

 

  • Take it easy

 

At the end of the day, remember that we are in the middle of a pandemic. So, it’s fine if you decide to have that lazy day, that cheat meal or just be unproductive for a while. Be kind to yourself. 

 

As of 21st April, 2021, 147 million people across the globe have recovered from Covid-19, out of the 166 million infected. However, most (if not all) of them face post-Covid effects. Some report fatigue, breathlessness, poorer functions of lungs, heart, liver and more. The diffusing capacity of their lungs (how efficiently oxygen and carbon dioxide transfer between the lungs and blood) remains below the optimal level. In severe cases, several have died due to covid-related complications, post recovery. As the coronavirus is novel, it is unclear how long the effects of it can remain in survivors, it could be months, years or even decades.

Here are some verified tips for a healthy lifestyle for Covid-survivors:

  • Eat well

Having a balanced, nutrition-filled meal is essential. Have warm, home-cooked food filled with lots of proteins, vegetables, fruits and carbohydrates along with vitamins and minerals. Have nuts and dairy products. Avoid junk foods and those that are high in spice, oil, salt or sugar. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water. 

 

  • Prioritise activities

Only do those activities that are of utmost importance. Doing many will only drain you out.

 

  • Rest

Don’t perform any strenuous activities that will lower your energy levels. Get 7-9 hours of sleep every night and take a short nap in the afternoon if required. If you feel tired while performing any activity, stop immediately and sit down till you feel able to tackle it again.

 

  • Get emotional support

Reach out to your loved ones and keep them updated on your health. Having the right people to talk to is key for a healthy lifestyle.

 

  • ONLY If possible, perform light to moderate exercises

If you are feeling up to it, take a stroll, stretch and perform other low- intensity exercises to prevent muscle atrophy as well as to boost your mental health. DO NOT do so if you have any breathing difficulties, cough or fatigue.  

 

  • Must-do exercises 

The following are some medically-accepted and recommended exercises to follow to improve lung functioning-

  1. Proning

This improves oxygen levels. To follow proning, lie facing down and place a pillow under your head; another below the chest through the upper thighs; and two below the shins.

 

  1. Pranayama

Pranayama is a yoga asana that increases oxygen saturation levels and improves lung functioning. 

An effective one is alternate nostril breathing. To do so, close your right nostril with your thumb and take a deep breath through the left nostril for 4 counts. Hold your breath for 16 counts. Next, close your left nostril with your ring finger of the same hand and exhale fully through your right nostril for 8 counts. Then, continue closing your nostril with your ring finger and inhale through your right nostril for 4 counts. Hold for 16 counts. Finally, close your right nostril with your thumb and exhale through your left nostril for 8 counts. Repeat thrice, about 4-5 times a day.

 

  1. Balloon exercise

Performing this exercise is exactly how it sounds. Simply swell a balloon 4-5 times a day. Doing so is good for keeping the lungs healthy.

 

 

Finally, RELAX! Relaxing improves blood flow, reduces stress, lowers heartbeat and eases breathing.

 

References

  1. The Times of India, Monday, 10 May 2021, pg 3
  2. The Times of India, Sunday, 16 May 2021, pg 3
  3. A. Sensharma (April 2021). Coronavirus Treatment: 3 exercises for COVID survivors to keep their lungs fit and healthy.
  4. Bloomberg (May 2020). COVID-19 survivors could suffer health effects for years.
  5. COVID-19: Survivors of Coronavirus Must Stay Fit; Here Are Exercises They Must Do, May 01, 2021.
  6. A. Soman, PhD., (December 2020). 5 simple Ayurvedic lifestyle solutions for coronavirus survivors to combat post-COVID stress.

 

   

 

By Aditi Karthik

CHRIST University, Kengeri campus 

Intern at Wings Within.