Currently, the whole world is mentally upset as a collective society. Our mind plays a great role in how we handle a situation, and increasing or decreasing the effect of any infection or medication. In health or in diseases, one thing that is extremely important is the mental factor of the person in health or disease – it is as important as the physical factors. Another thing that makes the current pandemic situation so stressful is that we are all sitting at home and continuously watching repeated news of deaths, disasters, and financial losses all over the world. But we must remember that stressing over anything is not the solution. This article is about what psychological impact the current pandemic has on mankind as a whole and what we can do to make this impact less effective on our mental health.
The history of infectious diseases is as old as that of mankind. When an infectious disease affects a large group of people or communities spontaneously, it is called an epidemic. Still worse, when an epidemic spreads to multiple countries and continents, we call it a pandemic. Covid-19 is the most recent pandemic we are experiencing. Although the outbreak of HIV-AIDS that hit the world around some ten years ago is not over yet, and millions of people are still living with it; it still didn’t impact our daily activities as Covid did. The reason is that the severity of a disease depends not only on its symptoms, risk factors and complications, but the first and foremost factor deciding its communicability is its mode of transmission.
The mode of transmission of a pandemic is a decisive factor in not only the treatment required but also the strictness required for the implementation of preventive measures on a large scale. The mode of transmission of the current pandemic is a respiratory droplet. It means that the droplets of fluid that can be found anywhere in our nose and the nasal sinuses, the mouth, the throat, and until the farthest areas of the lungs, can catch, house, and transmit the new coronavirus. It can then spread to the digestive system and the bloodstream, and cause death after the failure of various organ systems.
Various government authorities had to impose strict rules regarding the prohibition of social gatherings and similar public activities since the disease is highly contagious and fatal, and countless deaths have occurred round the globe. Such restrictions that are not eased for more than a year, and prohibit travel, school, college, work, shopping, weddings, parties, and all activities that were thought to be recreational and ‘fun’; were never seen and experienced by people at global level. This is making us all even more stressed about the ‘novel’ disease that’s killing people even without any symptoms.
Physical and Psychological aspects
The first response to a disease that our body initiates without even asking us is the immune response known as ‘first line of defense’. The first line of defense is activated at various sites that first come in contact with the infectious substance. These sites are the nose, the eye, the sweat glands, and the mouth. The secondary and more intensive immune response is activated in the blood and lymphatic system after the first line of defense has dealt with it. What is being conveyed here is that the immune response is controlled by the brain, and the brain can manage almost anything if a person is mentally calm and positive. The power of the brain should be used to one’s advantage. But sadly, more people first give into Covid mentally and then succumb to it.
How it is affecting our mind
Looking at the psychological impacts of covid-19, it cannot be denied that the current pandemic is not just a viral outbreak – it is a global ‘mental’ outbreak. Businessmen and labourers are impacted adversely by the global financial decline so much that there is no class or community in the world that is in a relaxed state of mind right now or who is not worried about the future. In middle-class families, it is not a common practice that children take a break or gap from their studies. Completion of grades and promotion to the next class within an academic year is thought of as the norm in such families, and the trend of children dropping academic years is not acceptable. Such parents are stressed about their children who are in the secondary or senior secondary classes this year.
There are families that depend on a daily income, and if their businesses don’t fall in the ‘essential services’ category as allowed for limited daily operation by the government, they are afraid they will starve to death. Families, whose head members are abroad and not visiting due to travel restrictions, are financially stable but emotionally unstable. Farmers that are not great land-owners in India are struggling. The labour class that used to work in other states has nowhere to go. Parents, whose children are working or studying abroad, are afraid they may not be able to meet them again. Pregnant women, newborns during the last year and the elderly are afraid to seek medical care, due to hospitals flooded with Covid cases.
The whole world is mentally upset. But we must not forget that stress makes nothing better. In fact, stress is actually a contributor towards the worsened effects of any disease, especially epidemics. The mind plays a great role in increasing or decreasing the effect of any infection or medication. The mental factor of health and disease is as important as the physical and social ones.
What we suggest
We may not feel great about the lives we are living right now. But the truth is that ours is the most luxurious and ‘easy’ life man has ever lived. Imagine if the lockdown were imposed when there were no internet-based food & grocery ordering, no video calling, and essentially – no smartphones. The stress factor would have been so much more intense. Instead of crying over what the rules prohibit, we should focus on how easily we can still carry out essential activities, thanks to the technology we have at hand. We shall win this war if we are stable at mind; with the following tips
- Practice wholesome and nutritious eating.
- Begin a yoga regime that essentially includes some asana, pranayama and meditation.
- Inculcate passionate home-management skills in children.
- Let each family member have their own space in the house, space that is both physical as well as mental.
- Instead of always making plans about what activities should be done when the pandemic related restrictions are over, try to live in the moment.
- Try to start minimalistic living and give away possessions that you could easily do without in the last year.
- Resist the urge to keep shopping online and hoard stuff that may probably be of some use in the future.
- Realize and convey the fact that happiness and contentment is the ultimate need for survival and happiness is not somewhere away in the mountains or at the beach – it is right now.
- Initiate children into meditation.
- Take care of the elderly, but do not give them false hopes about long life.
Relax. It may seem impossible, but we will have to accept that we are helpless in controlling the world, but we have complete control of our minds and our own health. We must take all necessary precautions and follow all guidelines, and above all, trust the process. We should trust that by wearing a mask, staying a healthy distance away from everyone, and washing all eatables and ourselves frequently, we can prevent the spread of the disease, and play our part in restoring mental peace in the world.