Monday Jul 4, 2022
Monday Jul 4, 2022

How is COVID affecting our Sanity?

The second wave of COVID-19 threatens people's mental health.

2021 Apr 23, 17:15, Kathmandu
Mental health Mental health amid coronavirus pandemic. Illustration: Critical Path Learning Center

With the number of cases of people getting infected with the COVID-19 rising in Nepal, people have started feeling scared of what is going to happen next. The government has begun imposing various restrictions but has till date not said anything about whether it will impose a lockdown like in the past. However, many people are apprehensive that if the number of people being infected by the virus keeps soaring then the government could adopt that measure.

Some feel that if the crisis deepens then imposing a lockdown could be the only viable measure to stop the spread of the coronavirus. However, there are many who fear the problems that the shutdown could bring like in the previous one. From financial troubles to limited social interactions and other psychological issues – the problems are aplenty.

As per the World Health Organisation, fear, worry, and stress are normal responses to perceived real threats, and at times when we are faced with uncertainty or the unknown. So it is normal and understandable that people are experiencing fear in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The sudden spike in the second wave has created mental distress in people across the world but people in Nepal are still in a denial phase,” said Senior Psychologist Karuna Kunwar of Centre for Mental Health and Counselling in Thapathali, Kathmandu. People are in denial as some believe they are immune to the COVID-19. The disbelief that we create with our fatalistic approach adversely affects the whole system.

At present with Nepal going through the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic many people have started getting affected mentally. Moreover, with instant and continuous access to the news these days the situation worsens as people keep reading or watching news related to the growing number of infections, deaths, and the restrictions being put in place.

According to Clinical Psychologist Dr Pashupati Mahat of Centre for Mental Health and Counselling, the second wave is causing a bigger strain in people’s mental wellbeing. “It is not only the adults who have to worry about their livelihoods but also students who are in distress with examinations on their way,” he adds.

Dr Mahat says that everybody needs to focus on maintaining their well-being and adopt measures to overcome their stress. He further shares that the fear of the second wave has mostly affected the urban people who are well informed about the crisis.

There are a few comforting techniques through which we can add some semblance of peace in our lives, he mentions. A few techniques, says Dr Mahat in coping with the fear and anxiety are to eat healthy and home-cooked food. “Junk food does taste good but it increases the level of anxiety,” he shares. He states that it is also nice to engage oneself in some hobby like music, dance and art. “Such hobbies help us divert our minds from fear and anxiety.”

A very important way to overcome one’s stress would also be to reach out to close relatives and friends, says Dr Mahat.

Meanwhile, Dil Kumar Shrestha a tempo driver, who has been driving for the last 17 years, said, “The fear of contracting the disease is there but what keeps me going is that I have to earn a living.” He adds that staying confined at home is not a solution as there are bills to pay and a family to feed.

Similarly, Dolma Chhering Gurung, a student shares, “I do not go out because I don’t feel safe. It is good that we are having online classes as physical classes would only add to my anxiety level.”

There are also people like Ipsha Sharma, who has taken her first dose of the corona vaccine, yet is scared to travel. “I had planned a trip to India but had to cancel it as the number of infections there has been rising and breaking the global record since the last couple of days,” she says.

“It is natural for people to be scared of the current situation but we all need to find ways to occupy ourselves so that we are not always thinking of the virus,” says Kunwar.


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