This spring, a new variant of Covid-19 was identified in India that quickly made its way to Nepal through the open border. We saw a surge in the number of people testing positive, and the death toll increased dramatically.
Data suggests that this strain of virus may not be as dangerous as it seems, but it seems to be much more contagious, and it is impossible not to worry when hundreds of people lose their lives every day. Especially when those who pass tend to be relatives and friends, and members of their families.
It has been said that the main reason for this catastrophic spread in India and Nepal was the lockdown being abandoned without the population being fully vaccinated. It is understandable that in our countries, the idea of a lockdown may not work as well because a majority of the population still lives off daily wages.
When the lockdown started last year, many claimed that hunger would take their lives before the virus. This time, it is both hunger and the virus killing people. The government is partly to blame: it was unprepared for a second wave it knew was coming. The people also became complacent after the infection rate dropped dramatically last year.
Once the lockdown was lifted, many people started to move about and get on with their lives. Plus, there is a large section of the population which does not believe in the importance of masks and physical distancing.
People started gathering without caring about whether they could catch the virus and infect others. Most people still seem to believe that the virus spreads because of others, and not because of them.
‘Optimism bias’ is a term in psychology that explains how people believe they are likely to experience good outcomes, and less likely to experience bad outcomes. People did not acknowledge or admit that the virus could have spread because of them, but blamed ‘others’.
Whatever the reason might be for this deadly second wave, we are in the thick of it now, and till the state manages to take control of the situation and look after citizens, it is up to each one of us to take care of ourselves.
When we hear bad news, it can be hard to escape from thinking about it. However, it is completely normal to feel overwhelmed and helpless. Watching the news and the endless series of bad news can make you feel down, and it is human to feel anxiety, depression, sadness, confusion and anger.
There are useful tricks and techniques you can incorporate in your daily habits to help you through this challenging time. It may take some effort and patience, but making these changes will improve your mental wellbeing.
- Take a break from news and social media
It is easy to say avoid news and social media when we are home all the time, but taking a break from tv news, online portals and social media can help you confront the effects of the bad news. Reading too many negative things can start to affect you mentally. Set a rule for yourself that you only read the news once a day. Schedule hours in the day when you do not check social media, and this is especially true before going to bed.
- Re-evaluate your news sources
We want to stay on top of what is happening in our country, but many news sources are click-baits scrambling for views, so you may not know what you are reading is the whole truth, or a series of selected facts that distort what is happening. Make sure your source of news is reputable and objective, and stick to one source if possible.
- Accept your level of control
When you hear bad news, your first instinct is to worry how it will affect you and your loved ones and it is natural to feel helpless when you think you cannot change the situation. Try to understand that the influence we let the hour-by-hour news have on us can affect how we handle the stress. Do what you can on a small scale to begin with. When you cannot change a situation, you can control how much you let it affect you.
- Seek positive news
It is all right to unfollow and block people that annoy you, and bring you down. Try to distract yourself by reading inspirational quotes, happy stories or watch funny videos. If it helps, detox yourself from social media, give yourself a day or a few days off the Internet altogether.
- Choose healthy distractions
We all need a relief from all the negativities. Some may choose alcohol, food or drugs to cope but they will end up causing more harm than good. The key is to try to take the attention away from the bad news. Get back into a hobby that you loved as a child, learn a new language, read more books or meditate. Meditation can be hard for beginners, but you can always try guided meditation to help direct you.
- Try breathing exercises
The reason breathing exercises have gained so much popularity these days is because they work. Try timed breathing exercises because they will help your mind feel calmer and over the course of a few days, it will be easier to manage your mind. Try this: inhale for 4 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds and exhale for 8 seconds, and do this 10 times.
- Take care of your physical health
We are locked up by the lockdown, but even walking up and down the stairs or around the garden can help. Adding some physical activity will improve your mental wellbeing as well. You can follow instructors on YouTube for free and try yoga or aerobics. Find ways to move your body.
- Eat well
If there is a time when the importance of health has taken priority, it is now. It can be easy to snack mindlessly or over-indulge but take this time to train yourself to eat more mindfully. Eat for your body to nourish it. Add fruits and vegetables to your daily diet. Make sure to drink plenty of water all day.
- Stay connected with family and friends
Modern technology has its disadvantages but when we are confined at home, take advantage of FaceTime or video chatting to connect with loved ones. Regular contact with people you love will lift your mood and appreciate their presence in your life. Talk to people and make the time to listen as well.
- Stay hopeful
Yes, things are bad, and it can be extremely hard to think positive during these times but stay hopeful that things will get better because they will. It is a matter of time, and unfortunately it is taking longer than expected but have faith that these bad times will soon pass. Make a list of things you are grateful for. We are all in this together, and we will get through this together.