It’s important to remind yourself that this is a temporary period of isolation.
Specifically, the red flags, signs or symptoms of COVID-19 one needs to be cognisant of include:
– Worsening of pre-existing symptoms related to stress, anxiety or depression.
– Constant obsessive, intrusive, ruminating thoughts that cannot be controlled or stopped with regards to the virus, like – contracting it, getting quarantined in even more terrible conditions, spreading it to others, fear of self or loved ones dying, and anxiety about not having access to investigations or treatment.
– Also, severe anxiety symptoms like palpitations, difficulty in breathing or breathlessness, chest pain, headache, blurred vision, or tremors.
– Headaches, back aches, chest pain or other vague psycho-somatic symptoms with no real medical cause.
– There can be very negative thoughts, irritability, mood swings or feeling very low or on edge all the time, and thoughts of impending doom.
– Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, worthlessness and mental fatigue.
In fact, all of this can lead to repetitive behaviour that includes constant-checking, cleaning, hoarding (items for the house, face mask, medication, hand sanitisers), increased hand-washing / bathing, or obsessive reading and watching TV, news, browsing social media or the Internet for further information on the topic.
Thus there is a disturbance in sleep pattern or appetite, difficulty with focus, concentration or attention span, inability to follow daily schedules and eventually a lapse in functionality.
This can lead to some adults turning to varied forms of substance abuse such as alcohol, drugs or excessive smoking; to negate their symptoms or fears of the COVID-19.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing such symptoms it is important to reach out immediately to a mental health professional to initiate timely treatment and counselling sessions. Equally important, this can be done online with the use of various platforms.
What can help
• Remind yourself that this is a temporary period of isolation to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. As a matter of fact, there are teams of professionals across the world trying to fight this out.
• Stay connected with friends, family and colleagues via email, social media, video conferencing or telephone.
• Engage in healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Listen to music, draw or paint, do yoga or mediate regularly, pursue a hobby, read or write.
• Maintain a regular sleep routine, eat healthy foods and maintain a balanced diet. Avoid binge-eating.
• Try to maintain physical activity. Also, stretch regularly. Try and do some floor exercises.
• For those working from home, try to maintain a healthy balance by allocating specific work hours, taking regular breaks and establishing a schedule.
• Avoid obsessively watching disturbing news and social media
• Establish routines as best possible and try to view this period as a new experience that can bring health benefits.
• Do not feel helpless or hopeless about this situation and do reach out for mental health assistance if needed. Indeed, it is okay to not be okay at times such as these; but it is essential and necessary to seek professional help or guidance.