With our entire nation going under lockdown for 21 days, life has become very different from what it was a couple of weeks ago. As we progress with the lockdown, it has become clearer that these are extraordinary times, and thus, there is this need for extraordinary measures. Although, one thing is for sure, that this change is unprecedented and something we weren’t prepared for.
Here's What You Will Be Experiencing During This Time
In such an uncertain time, it's quite normal for you to experience a sense of discomfort or feel anxious about the way the events are unfolding. It’s important that you recognise this feeling and give yourself the time to process it. As the lockdown progresses and you spend more and more time in isolation, devoid of your normal routine and social interactions, you’re likely to go through these emotional stages:
Acceptance: a stage of euphoria where you would see this time as an opportunity instead of a disruption, for example, the much-needed time you needed to take a break or catch-up on hobbies.
Conviction: a stage where you would be a little affected by the isolation but would double down on your efforts to keep up with your schedule and beat the blues.
Moments of frustration and satisfaction: as time would pass on, you would find yourself being very productive one day and doing nothing the other, alternating between moments of satisfaction and frustration.
Depression/ Grief: this stage would be marked by the realization that it's difficult to go about your normal life when there is no ''normal''. You would find yourself getting bored, you would miss having your social interactions, or would worry about the after-effects of the lockdown on finances, etc. You may also feel an overwhelming sense of worry, imagining the worst-case scenarios.
Anger: during this stage, you would get irritated or worked up with your confinement, the unpredictability of the situation. This could also result in small conflicts with the people around you.
Acknowledgement: when you experience this stage, you would accept the situation for what it is and then try to put your best foot forward.
It's not necessary that you would experience these stages in the order given here or even that you would experience all of them. However, you are likely to go through most of them.
What You Can Do To Ensure Your Mental Well-Being During This Time
To ensure your mental well-being as your progress through these stages, here’s what you need to be doing:
When you find yourself imagining worst-case scenarios, intentionally counter them with best-case ones. What if my family falls sick? — Not everyone is falling sick. Most people are recovering quickly.
Acknowledge your concerns, but don't let worry take over your present. Ground yourself in your present. You are not infected, your family is doing well. Everything is alright.
Give yourself a Worry-Window. If you feel your mind is enveloped with fear and anxiety, chalk out a window in your daily schedule and allow yourself to focus on those issues then. These 20 minutes I am allowing myself to think about my concerns, and process them.
Let go of those things that are not in your control and focus on what is. You are taking all the precautions, you are doing everything right. You can’t control anybody else’s actions, only yours.
Be compassionate. This is a tough time for everybody, so be compassionate in your interactions with others, be it your family members, colleagues or even strangers.
Keep in regular contact with your family, your friends, and loved ones. You are only devoid of physical contact, but you have the time to connect with them. Use it well. It would help you bond with them over this shared experience. Practise social distancing, not emotional distancing.
Keep a check on your news consumption. Consuming alarming facts or news about the pandemic can push you towards an anxiety spiral. Allocate a specific time for checking up on the news instead of looking up updates every 20 minutes.
Try to follow a schedule. Schedules give us a sense of normalcy. Try to create a schedule wherein you dedicate some time to work, to exercise, and some time for unwinding and connecting with your family.
Remember, even though the situation seems to be open-ended, it is temporary. It’s just a measure we are taking to ensure that we can tide over this difficult time safely. Your contribution will go a long way in making this measure a success. This will not only help you make sense out of the situation but it will also provide you with an impetus to move through it successfully.