By Taslim Ahammad :
Outbreaks of infectious diseases such as the current coronavirus (COVID-19) can be devastating and can affect our mental health. Although it is important to be aware, there is much we can do to support and manage our well-being at this time. Hence, remembering to take care of mental health is just as important as taking care of physical health. Good mental health and positive well-being can help people cope better with the coronavirus threat and the uncertainty it creates.
In 1937, coronaviruses were first identified as an infectious bronchitis virus. Today, viruses cause the common cold in 15% to 30% cases. Over the past 70 years, researchers have found cows, cats, dogs, horses, rats, pigs, rats and turkeys that have been infected with the coronavirus.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by the newly discovered coronavirus. Most people infected with the coronavirus will develop mild to moderate respiratory illnesses and recover without the need for special treatment. Older people and those with underlying treatment problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and cancer are more likely to become seriously ill. It is well informed about the best way to prevent and slow down the circulation. Wash your hands and protect yourself from infection without touching your face. The virus is spread primarily through dropsy or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it is important that you practice breathing etiquette by coughing on a flexible elbow. (WHO, 20)
People around the world are staying indoors during national lockdowns to stop the spread of coronavirus. Outbreaks of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) can be stressful for humans. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and can cause strong emotions in adults and children. This is a dangerous situation for mental health and everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. Coping with stress will make us, the people we care about and our community stronger.
Stress during an infectious disease outbreak may include: (i) Fear and anxiety about your own health and the health of our loved ones (ii) changes in sleep or eating habits (iii) difficulty sleeping or concentrating (iv) growing chronic health problems (v) deterioration of mental health conditions (vi) increased use of tobacco or other drugs.
The good news is that health officials around the world are working to stop the spread of the virus. They have identified and transmitted the symptoms of the disease and started isolating the sick to prevent it from entering others.
Here are some tips that can help us to manage the most understandable worries and anxieties: (i) All need to take the precautions recommended by government and health services in order to reduce transmission and protect the vulnerable, even if we think we are not particularly vulnerable ourselves (ii) We have to physically distance ourselves from others, however, we are social beings. Hence, compensate by reaching out to friends and colleagues using social media, phone calls, Facetime, Skype, Zoom and so on. This will combat the loneliness people can feel when physically isolated (iii) Kindness is a double blessing, it makes the person who receives a kind act feel better and it makes people feel better for doing it (University of Oxford, 20). (iv) Create a daily schedule for us and our family (v) Try to limit the amount of time we spend watching, reading or listening to the news. Get information on the coronavirus outbreak from a trusted source, such as the WHO, once or twice a day (vi) Make space for activities and conversations that have nothing to do with the outbreak (vii) Maintain our physical health (viii) Protect your sleep, good quality, sufficient sleep not only helps to support our immune system but also helps us to better manage stress and regulate emotions (ix) Try to eat at regular times and opt for nutritious foods whenever possible (x) Maintain an exercise routine at home (xi) Find a place of worship that is streaming or recording services. If prayer is an important part of anyone’s life, make time for it (xii) Try meditation, check out YouTube or phone apps. Mindfulness can help lower blood pressure, reduce stress, support our immune system, and protect brain health (jhsph.edu, 20). (xiii) Instead of thinking about social isolation and the difficulties surrounding it which can make us depressed. Focus on something we always wanted to do but have never had the time, a project at home or a new language we always wanted to learn. For example, we could sign up for a self-improvement webinar that allows us to gain life skills or any other interesting thing. (University of Cambridge, 20)
In this difficult epidemic of uncertainty, it is easy to feel a little frustrated and lose what we need to do. Positivity is a mental set that does not come when we need it; it is something we should practice every day, especially at times like this epidemic situation. We must learn lessons about mental and healthcare care in particular, rather than investing in war, which will help us create more advanced policies in this world.
Chairman, Tourism and Hospitality Management
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology University, Gopalganj, Bangladesh