Since its first outbreak in Wuhan city of China, the coronavirus has almost monopolized global consciousness. The World Health Organization (WHO), declared it a pandemic on 11 March, 2020 and people, world over had to exercise social distancing or had to be in complete lockdown, as in certain countries. Some parts of the world were exercising, that includes China, lockdown much before, it was declared in India.
Man is a social animal and when quarantine or isolation is imposed, apart from the existing stress due to the pandemic, there are undercurrents that could affect his mental health. It’s a sudden change of behavioral pattern that, though self-imposed, does not warrant a choice, as one could be a threat to others. Though everyone reacts differently during stressful situations, it has been observed that the common stress factors during a disease outbreak are:
- Fear & worry about your own health and that of your loved ones
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty in sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Worsening of mental health conditions
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco and/or other drugs
Amplify the same now with the global recession, job cuts, salary delays or salary cuts and a looming sense of uncertainty and you have much in hand to cope with. The new realities of working from home, home-schooling of children and lack of physical contact with other family members, friends and colleagues, take time to get used to.
Adapting to lifestyle changes and managing the fear of contracting the virus, with the various phases of relaxations and continuance of lockdown can be quite worrisome and challenging. Fear, worry and stress are normal responses when we are faced with uncertainty and the thought that we all are particularly vulnerable till the vaccine is in place. So while we all are taking steps to increase our immunity in the meanwhile, it is additionally impending on us to also take care of our mental health.
Fortunately, there are lots of things that we can do to look after our own mental health and to help others who may need some extra support and care.
1. Exercises or practice Yoga with Pranayama
Start your day with any kind of physical exercise or Yoga with Pranayama. Performing exercise and Yoga in early morning helps to relieve stress and boost the mood by decreasing circulating cortisol levels and increasing endorphins secretion.
- Exercise raises brain activity allowing you to take your mind off things and improve your overall mood.
- Yogahelps us develop awareness of how our own unique mind works and that awareness can help us live in a more conscious way.
- Pranayama helps us to balance our energy which in turn helps us stay calm and centered throughout the day.
According to Ayurveda, Yoga and Pranayama helps to balance the energy of Surya (Pingala) and Chandra (Ida) Nadi (neurons) and keep our body in a state of relaxation.
How to do Pranayama and different forms of breathing exercises: https://www.instagram.com/myayurvedajourney/
The power of touch has an amazing effect on body and mind, massaging the body stimulates the production of serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitters that promotes well-being, satisfaction and feelings of happiness. Massage also decreases cortisol levels, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, which is related to stress and anxiety. Serotonin consequently stimulates production of melatonin, which helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythms and lull people to sleep.
In Ayurveda, Abhyanga (oil massage) is a daily self-care ritual that helps to heal the mind and body from the stresses of daily life.
How to do a Abhyanga, self-massage with warm oil: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HQLsfZh5js
3. Healthy and nutritious diet
Whatever you eat, it has profound effects on both the physical and mental health. A healthy and nutritious diet, in particular can help to regulate stress and anxiety. Diet that includes prebiotic and probiotic-rich foods like yogurt helps to promote a proper balance of gut bacteria. These good gut bacteria activates the neural pathways by release of 95% Serotonin neurotransmitter that travel directly between the gut and the brain, which aid in mediating moods and regulating sleep.
Stay tuned for more tips coming soon in our next blog