Hyderabad: The Covid-19 pandemic has forced significant behavioural changes among the general public within a short span. In order to break the transmission chain of the SARS-CoV-2, public health experts have advocated and people have widely adopted practices like working from home, spending a lot of time at home, quarantined and in isolation, wearing masks and maintaining physical distancing.
As a result of sudden changes in lifestyle during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, mental health specialists believe that there is a significant part of population that is suffering from various kinds of mental health issues in silence. For such people, experts have advised that it is very important to build positive mental health, to tide over the ongoing crisis.
Recently, the Principal Scientific Advisor for Government of India K Vijay Raghavan in collaboration with Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC), Pune, released a detailed advisory to enable people build positive mental health during the ongoing Covid-19 epidemic. “It’s very important to help someone who is going through mental health issues. Do not discriminate against those who are undergoing mental health issues because the needless stigma and shame associated with it prevents people from asking for help,” the advisory said.
Ways to build positive mental health
1. Good sleep
• Adults: 7 to 8 hours and children: at least 10 hours
• Sleep in a quiet, dark and well ventilated environment
• Keep a regular sleep schedule, try to sleep and wake up at the same time every day
• Avoid watching TV or using phone immediately before going to sleep
2. Get regular exercise
• Adults: 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity in a week
• Children: 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity daily
• Eldery: Three days of physical activity a week to enhance balance
3. Avoid alcohol and drugs
• Alcohol and drug abuse exacerbate mental health issues, creating a negative cycle of dependence
• Avoid situations and people associated with cravings
• Learn to say ‘no’. Don’t give in to peer pressure
4. Practise meditation
• Take up yoga techniques like asanas (postures), pranayama (deep breathing) and dhyaan (meditation) to improve mental health
• Meditate for at least 15 minutes every day, and combine it with some asanas
• It takes two months of daily practice to change behaviour into habit!
5. Stay socially connected
• Spend time with family and friends; volunteer for causes you genuinely care about
• Meaningful social connections improve mental health.
• Be kind and empathetic to those around you
• Connect on calls/video chat if you are unable to go outside
6. Learn new skills
• Learning new skills boosts self-confidence and self-esteem
• It provides a sense of purpose which triggers positive emotion in brain
• Try drawing, singing, dancing, cooking, coding, etc.
7. Reduce screen time/media exposure
• Excessive use of social media leads to stress, anxiety and depression
• Exposure to repeated negative content generates negative emotions that adversely affect mental health
• Replace media consumption with social interactions
8. Eat healthy
• Balanced diet should include combination of vegetables, whole grains and fruits
9. Connect with Nature
• Try to spend at least two hours a week in outdoor green spaces
• Create a small green area at home with potted plants
• Spending time in the natural environment reduces depression, anxiety
• Maintaining indoor plants has a positive impact on mental health
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