Reflections on the Current Pandemic and the emotional health impact-Prof.Vihang.N. Vahia, Mumbai

Psychiatrists Reflect on the Current Pandemic and its impact on the population
My experience – Prof. Vihang N.Vahia, Professor of Psychiatry (retd),Mumbai.

We are all uniformly experiencing tense, unpredictable, insecure and uncertain phase of life.

1st world war was fought with arrows and spears, WWII with guns and bombs. We are now in WWIII of humans fighting against one super power the virus.

The society is now divided into two groups. One that is super-busy 24×7, like the entire strata of frontline health workers, Police and security, sanitary staff, Bank staff, a section of Government employees, and the entire supply chain viz planners, executives, transporters including railways staff, and the whole set of feet-on-the-streets personnel.

The second group is those that have disrupted life style. Many among us are this group. Those in this group experience negative emotions, helplessness and thoughts that have the potential to generate oppositional defiant behavior or disruptive out bursts.

Anxiety, agitation, anger, cynicism or blame game neither change the reality nor help coping. They arouse us, consume our energy and induce fatigue. Frustration has the risk of furthering negative assessment of self that may precipitate domestic violence or death wish.

We have to accept the reality and disruption of routine life style. Traditional means of exercising, entertaining and security of peer-group interaction are not feasible.

We cannot wish it away or forcefully alter it.

While rigidly observing physical distancing, we ought to enhance virtual socializing. Please speak to people like friends, relatives, neighbours and strangers. Calling up or video calling ought to be preferred over WhatsApp or messaging. Restrict “Corona time” by limiting exposure to COVID related TV time.

It is important to keep cool, indulge in light exercise and observe a daily routine. Pranayam, meditation, yoga and domestic chores will help. This is also the time to introspect and explore hidden potentials, unfulfilled ambitions, desires and set new goals. Time to reconsider methods of unbiassed assessment of reality and design effective coping skills and outlets for being of help to self, family, friends and strangers.

Nothing in life is permanent. This trying time or more like tying time has to end soon.

Trust yourself and as you follow means to contain the spread of the disease like physical distancing, repeated hand washing and use of masks; learn to control negativity and catch up on whatever that you always wanted to do but did not find time to accomplish. You now have the time for yourself and opportunity to generate happiness through exercise, helping others and plan your life during the lockdown without any interference.

Jai Hind.

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