Staying Engaged and Positive During the Tough Time of COVID-19
Kripa Sigdel, is a psychologist. Sigdel teaches at the Faculty of Psychology at Padma Kanya Campus and is the Executive Director of Psychbigyan Network Nepal (PNN). Below is the interview of Sigdel with INSEC Online Nepali Editor Ramesh Prasad Timalsina regarding mental health care during the period of the pandemic of COVID-19.
We are going through the second wave of COVID-19. In this situation, what can we do for the stability of our mental health?
It is obvious that we are having many problems right now. We feel fear, uncertainty, and loneliness. We can witness such problems. The pandemic has terrified the general public. Many have lost their jobs. There are cases where people have infected themselves, their families, might have lost friends and family members as well. Such incidents have a negative impact on our mind. In such a situation, it is normal to panic. We don’t have the same routine as before. As it becomes more difficult, we have to keep ourselves busy with something. Do not over think any situation. The routine should be the same as before. We can keep ourselves engaged inside the house with household works. Something new can be learned, read, or worked on. Terrace gardening can be also an ideal way to keep busy.
We are saying that we should emphasize on physical health but is it very important to understand and explain mental health. If physical health is not good then mental health is not good either. So you should do yoga or exercises. We should do what can be done for both physical and mental stability. This can reduce instability and terror.
If you are having difficulty, you should accept it. This is something that everyone has experienced. So you should think this- I’m not the only one. Others have also recovered and so will I. The news channesl are flooded with negative news. That, too, has served to aggravate the problem. It is better not to watch such news as much as possible. If you are safe, don’t panic when you hear the tragic news. Self-confidence can make you stronger in this period.
They have been calling it social distance instead of physical distance. We want to bridge the social gap through virtual means to increase communication and interaction. This will make us feel comfortable. You should only meet with the family members by following the necessary health protocol.
Are pessimistic thoughts responsible for psychological problems?
There are many reasons. One of the most important reasons is negative thinking. There may also be hereditary causes. Eliminating pessimistic thinking will reduce or eliminate psychological problems. If we feel that something is going wrong, it bugs us. In psychology we call it ‘negativity bios’. When we hear bad news, we do not avoid it but instead we dig deeper in it. Negativity attracts us. We should try to stay away from it as much as possible. That doesn’t mean we should stay away from information. We need to develop the habit of selecting information. It would be great if we could develop that habit right now.
The hospitals have started saying that it is not possible to provide treatment and the government itself has been saying that it cannot provide treatment. It’s hard to be positive at such times!
It is obviously difficult situation and our families have a big role to play. There should be regular family gatherings and discussions with proper physical distance. Negativity can be reduced by family talks, so talk rather than sitting alone. Conclusions can be drawn by discussing the pros and cons of the situation. It plays a huge role in strengthening mental health. It cannot be said that the government cannot provide treatment. It is to urge to be safe in such situation. It is natural to say that it is difficult to treat many infected people in our country, but it cannot be ruled out that they cannot be treated.
What should be done in the favour of the children in such situation?
It is the nature of children to go out and play. Family time is very important to them. Family members and parents should keep the children engaged. And therefore negativity will not enter the mentality of children. School is not the only place to learn. Learning about life skills is also very important. You can teach them to cook, wash clothes, wash dishes, and work in the garden. They can draw pictures and work according to their interests and become more creative.
Parents should spend more time with their children. The practice of not answering because children do not understand should be stopped. We should not ignore our children. We should explain the situation to the children. They will grasp as much as they can. From there, we can see the transition. If we try to explain why we are at home, they will understand. Children need to be listened to and spoken to.
What is the alternative to avoiding Covid infection and trying to win it over?
Well, there is no alternative to strengthening one’s self-confidence after getting infected. We emphasize physical health as immunity. Emphasis on mental health is equally important. Since our thinking also affects our body, a positive mindset is needed. Many people have been healed. If the problem gets worse, use the medicine prescribed by the doctor and follow the doctor’s advice and do the same. Self-confidence helps a lot to win over Corona.
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