The world is changing rapidly and we started to change with it. It is not easy to adapt to such big changes at a fast pace. We should not forget that we are in a common mourning process with millions of people we do not know. By staying in quarantine, we begin to listen not only to our body, but also to our soul.
The coronavirus epidemic started an anxiety epidemic at the same time. It is normal to feel feelings of fear, anxiety, sadness, and uncertainty during a pandemic. Many of us have begun to question not only the virus but also our identity. The concept of “who am I” is formed in a network of interconnected roles and relationships. Since we stay away from the outside world during the quarantine process, our concept of “identity” may also be affected. To suddenly lose those who come from the outside world and give us meaning can put us in the first shock. Afterward, many of those affected may feel helpless and angry. Unless we are aware of it and deal with it strategically, this can have tragic consequences for ourselves and others. If you feel like you are losing your sense of self, then you may be experiencing a loss of meaning in your life.
All of our lives matter and we want to feel like we belong somewhere. For this reason, it is important to include activities that will make sense to our inner world every day. Doing something meaningful every day, even if only for a short time, will give you a sense of purpose and identity.
The anxiety caused by the epidemic can also make us feel “abnormal”. However, we need to be aware that we are not giving an “abnormal” response. A quote from Viktor Frankl, one of the leading psychiatrists of the 20th century, explains this situation very well: “An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is a normal behavior.” Getting rid of this thought pattern of feeling “abnormal” is important for our mental health. Even if you are isolated at home, try to stick to a regular schedule as much as possible. While loneliness can feel like it will never end, trying to make these days feel as “normal” as possible will help you get through. Start with a few things you do each day, keeping a diary of how you feel and what you do. Practicing this will help you feel proactive about the situation you are experiencing. Distraction helps you avoid rumination, which is a risk factor for depression. That way, taking on small projects or finding other forms of distraction can help keep you in the mood.
Part of what triggers our anxiety with the coronavirus is the lack of information. We are battling a new virus and we have many question marks about this disease. Our brain’s reactions to trauma are very active right now. We are all trying to cope with change, staying disconnected from others and dealing with concerns about the health of our family and loved ones. We are all trying to cope with the loss of freedom, resources and balance. After all, we all try to cope with the fear of the unknown. When you feel scared about the coronavirus, try to focus on the things you can control. We cannot control the anxiety that the media creates for us, but we can change our media consumption. It is important to read news from reliable sources and take a break. Reading and watching the news about how fast the virus is spreading or how many people are getting sick will increase your anxiety. Limit your media consumption to a certain time frame or a certain number of times. While staying informed is helpful, it’s important not to be bombarded with worrying news all day. You can’t control how intense the coronavirus outbreak is in your city or neighborhood, but you can take steps to reduce your own personal risk (and your risk of unknowingly spreading it to others).
“Social distancing” is practiced as a way of reducing the spread of the virus. However, it has negative side effects on our mental health. The disconnection from others and the accompanying feelings of loneliness can affect the limbic system of the brain. Intense activity in this area of our brain is linked to feelings of sadness and negativity. This condition is often seen in depressive disorders. Perhaps the best thing you can do to combat loneliness during this time is to connect with others in unconventional ways. You may not be able to visit in person with your family and friends, but that doesn’t mean you can’t connect.
While you can only focus on how to manage your mental health and loneliness during a crisis, remember that there is a strong connection between your body and mind. By focusing on our body, we can both think and feel better. Exercise releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood. Exercising regularly can help relieve mental health problems such as depression and anxiety and reduce their symptoms. It also increases connections between nerve cells in the brain. This improves your memory and helps protect your brain from injury and illness. In this period, it helps us to have a strong immune system, which we need most to protect ourselves from the virus.
If your mental health is being affected by the stress of the coronavirus, you can seek professional help. A mental health professional can help you manage your fears. In addition to the mental health problems that may arise due to the anxiety surrounding this epidemic, it is imperative that precautionary measures are taken to ensure that existing mental health problems do not worsen. If you are not feeling well during this process, it may be best for you to consult a mental health professional without hesitation.
This trauma will of course affect us. We will see changes in mental health during and after this experience. We need both our individual and societal healing. Protecting our own mental health as individuals will have an impact on society. If we all take good care of ourselves, we can help our society heal when we come out of quarantine. Although we may be disconnected from each other in some ways, we can now begin our collective healing by caring for our mental health.