While in lockdown and self-isolation, mental health could suffer and reach alarming levels if not kept in check. Unsplash/NOW!JAKARTA

The outbreak of the Covid-19 is creating stress for the global population – physically and mentally. While in lockdown and self-isolation, mental health could suffer and reach alarming levels if not kept in check, a World Health Organisation chief warned Friday.

“We are definitely worried,” Dr. Hans Kluge, the agency’s regional director for Europe, said on the Times’ daily podcast. “We want to avoid a pandemic of mental disorders in addition to a pandemic of COVID-19.”

The fear and struggle are real – fear about the virus, empty store shelves or feeling lonely in quarantine and lockdown can cause strong emotions in adults and children, even worse stress leading to a complex depression and anxiety. Taking care of yourself, your friends and family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with stress can also make your community feel tougher. In the current situation, finding ways to maintain your normal routine is essential to decreasing stress and potential depressive thoughts that may appear.

Things you can do for yourself – Getting too much exposed with constant news about the pandemic can feel relentless and may trigger existing mental health problems. Filter news and social media wisely! Always be cautious about fake news. Filter what you are watching and seek the balance of watching essential news only, as it will create positivity reduce your stress level. If things get rough, have breaks from social media and mute triggering keywords and accounts. Make time to unwind and try to di some other activities you enjoy. Most importantly, connect with other so that you don’t feel lonely. Talk to people you trust about your anxiety and concerns. You may reach healthcare professionals if stress gets worse for several days in a row.

As parents you can be more reassuring to others around you, especially children and teens. Children and teens react, in part, what they see form the adults around them. While it is difficult to stay positive when your kids or teenagers are driving you crazy, try to say the behavior you want to see. Use positive words when telling your child what to do instead of yelling at them. It is also important to help your teen stay connected. While they may not be able to communicate with their friends and feel lonely, help them connect through social media and other safe distancing ways. This is something you can do together too. Some common changes to watch for include excessive worry or sadness, unhealthy eating or sleeping habits, difficulty with attention and concentration, limitation to news coverages and last but not least, be a role model. Follow healthy lifestyle, exercise routinely, eat well and connect with your friends and family members.

For responders of the Covid-19, this can take an emotional toll on you! There are things you can to help you cope with stress and trauma easily. Learn the symptoms carefully, including physical illness like fatigue and mental illness like fear, guilt and trauma. Get yourself quarantine if the symptoms are light, and you feel like you can still handle it – allow time for you and your family to recover from responding the virus. Avoid social media and media coverage relating to Covid-19 for a while, as it can easily fuels your emotions. In the end, ask for help if you are getting overwhelming and stressful in a way that the Covid-19 is affecting the lives of your loved ones and your ability to take care of them as you did before the outbreak.

For those who have been released from the quarantine, you may have undergone mixed emotions, including trauma, upset anger, sadness or stress from the experience of being monitored by others for symptoms of Covid-19 and relief after quarantine, all at a time. Don’t panic and stay calm and focused on what can be controlled, such as stocking of foods and medications. Do not stop taking care of both your physical and mental health as you are released from the quarantine. Have a daily routine, stay positive and well and do daily exercise.

Asyariefah R.A.

Asyariefah R.A.

Born into a nature-loving family, Asyariefah enjoys the outdoors. Now! Jakarta provides her favourite collection of narratives with a sense of helping establish her identity. Some of her key areas of expertise include human interest, arts & culture, travel and features.