Mumbai, Maharashtra, May 14: To help the readers cope with the ongoing pandemic Aanchal Narang addresses some basic issues affecting the mental health of the general population.
The shared experiences of a global pandemic call for its own set of questions to address. And one of these questions is,
“What happens after this?”
Extended isolation and social distancing bring with it depression, anxiety, touch starvation, and several other small and big traumas. Post-pandemic, these issues are not likely to just go away. So what happens next is that you allow yourself to process in order to heal, and if needed, get professional help, advises Aanchal Narang who is experiencing additional caseloads at her clinic due to the pandemic situation.
Dealing with grief, loss, isolation, abusive households, loss of a job, and loss of a regular life so to say, will inevitably mean that you have a whirlwind of emotions to deal with says, Aanchal Narang, Psychologist, Another Light Counselling. You are also going through the loss of a “regular” life, where you’re unable to do your favorite activities, socialize normally, or basically experience any human contact. After life reverts to “normal,” you will have to deal with a completely new set of emotions. You won’t be the same person you were before. The pandemic takes its toll and you will inevitably feel weak and overwhelmed. In times like those, show yourself some self-compassion. Allow yourself to feel your pain, and address how you can work on these emotions to make yourself feel better.
According to Aanchal Narang, COVID is not just a here-and-now phenomenon. It will have a lasting impact on how the world functions and how you personally function as well, even when it no longer exists. With the overwhelming emotions, there are a few things that you should do in order to help yourself.
- Work-from-home might become the new norm. Find ways to make this a bearable, if not fun, experience for yourself.
- Look for new experiences that you can truly enjoy for yourself. Solo activities were essential pre-pandemic, but they are all the more important now to keep your mind busy and uncluttered.
- While social distancing and self-isolation mean a lack of physical human contact, find new people to interact with online. Hold game nights with your friends, join a community, find people with who you can spend time and who make you happy.
The journey to self-compassion does not start later. COVID is a difficult situation where you need to be able to deal with your mental health in a non-detrimental manner. Give yourself time to feel bad about things, process those feelings, and then work on your healing, connect to things that motivate you, and indulge in hobbies to beat the depression says, Aanchal Narang.
The consequence of not doing so could be burnout. You might be unable to find the motivation to keep living the way you do. Finding things that make you happy and healthy are essential to prevent the feeling of despair from taking over. Feeling overwhelmed is normal, how you deal with that feeling is a skill you need to hone.
Dealing with Grief
Mid-pandemic, a big emotion that a lot of us have to deal with is grief. Grief is a natural response to loss and it can be overwhelming because you’ve just had someone or something you dearly loved taken away from you.
According to Anchal Narang, Psychologist, Another light Counselling, process of grieving and coping with the sense of loss is complex, and you should look for professional help when dealing with these emotions.
What are the stages of grief?
We’ve all heard about the stages of grief (first enumerated by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross) wherein people dealing with loss tend to go through five major stages. Not everyone goes through all of these stages nor does it happen sequentially for everyone.
- Denial: When you can’t acknowledge the event at all and therefore, cannot acknowledge your pain.
- Anger: You start to question the cause for the event and look for someone to blame; whether it be yourself or someone else.
- Bargaining: You tend to bargain with the universe itself, offering anything in return for reversal of the event.
- Depression: Here, the grief incapacitates you to the point you don’t want to do anything but wallow in unprocessed emotions.
- Acceptance: You acknowledge the event as well as the subsequent pain that came with it.
How do I deal with grief?
The inevitable pain that comes with grief is something that you have to come to terms with on your own and everyone has a different coping process says Aanchal Narang, Psychologist. A few ways to do so are:
- Acknowledge your pain. Unresolved grief can also lead to complications such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and health problems. Add a global pandemic to the mix, finding healthy ways to process your pain is difficult- but even more necessary.
- Accept that grief can trigger many different and unexpected emotions.
- Understand that your grieving process will be unique to you. While the pandemic affects everyone, your loss is personal to you. There is no wrong or right way to process these emotions- find a way that helps you.
- Seek out face-to-face support from people who care about you. Family and friends in similar situations mean that you have a community for your grief. Reaching out can help you deal with a lot of the emotions you feel.
- Support yourself emotionally by taking care of yourself physically.
- Recognize the difference between grief and depression.
At this point, you need to look for professional help. Depression needs help that is different from the process of grieving. The faster you get help, the less likely you are to fall into a spiral of unresolved emotions. With professional help, you can equip yourself with a set of tools that are unique to your pain and how you want to work through it.