With the gradual opening up of offices amid lockdown 4.0, there are a number of precautions that we need to take to remain physically and psychologically healthy, says Ayushi Sharma
Undoubtedly, all of us have been going through a lot of stress these days. People tend to feel miserable because there are a host of uncertainties this pandemic holds. Someone might have lost a job or fears that they would, some are struggling to put together money to pay bills, a few of them are worried about their health and safety or that of their loved ones. The continuous onslaught of worry, fear and insecurity is certainly increasing mental health issues day by day. But how much more can you stop the world from moving? The economic damage from staying home could be worse than the impact of the disease, believe many global leaders. Yes, we are talking about learning to live with the virus.
Now, since the Centre has announced the opening of offices and industrial units amid lockdown 4.0, the major question here is — how can people psychologically and behaviourally rewire themselves while rejoining office? Experts share that it is very important that the guidelines are adopted in the community as a behavioural change.
The risk of returning to normal, as we knew it, is in no way possible. However, MBBS, MD, Psychiatrist, Dr Anuneet Sabharwal says, “The risk cannot be calculated. It is hard to get back into the routine of things when you first return to work but you can start by planning the day in advance and making a list of things that needs to done. Strategising your work and focussing on doing one task at a time might help you to feel in control. Once you start doing it, your natural work rhythm will fall back into place. And you can start to feel productive again.”
According to the recent data, a significant and sustained increase in symptoms of anxiety and depression have been reported. People with pre-existing health conditions and aged adults have all reported higher rates of anxiety and fear, shares Ariba Abbasi, Senior Counseling Psychologist, Msc, BA. The pandemic has brought huge changes in our lifestyle. Niharika Mehta, Psychologist at Hiranandani Hopsital Vashi, a Fortis Network, tells us that new habits have to be adopted and conscious precautions have to be taken. Just as a new normal of different trends (such as diets, workout routines, fashion) are accepted, a new normal of work culture should be accepted as well. Being aware and accepting of change is the very first step towards adjusting to it, she feels.
Every other expert believe that psychologically people need to accept this as a new reality and take precautions on how to safe guard themselves. Ekta Soni, Chief Clinical Psychologist, suggests that we should focus on the things that are in our control — hand washing, using mask, sanitising and social distancing. “If we were to live constantly with insecurity and give fuel to our negative thoughts, then we would paralyse ourselves and not do anything. Eventually, things will snowball into a big mountain. Over a period of time, we will all develop our own safety measures and these would become habitual. The fear has led to the rise of catastrophising (view or present a situation as considerably worse than it actually is) and hypochondriacal (obsession with the idea of having a serious but undiagnosed medical condition) traits,” she says.
As per official derivatives, provisions for thermal scanning and sanitisation are being done. But what precautions can be taken individually? Dr Anuneet shares some of these simple measures that can be taken in order to prevent contracting the virus: Understand the signs and symptoms: The symptoms can include cough, fever, cold or shortness of breath. Most people may only experience mild symptoms but some can become very sick with additional health issues. If you think you may have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 and have symptoms, then get in touch with the emergency room immediately and inform them about your travel history as well. The best way to protect yourself is to practise good hygiene. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol based hand sanitiser. Avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose with unwashed hands. Maintain social distancing when you step out of home. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and places. It is highly recommended that people wear masks whenever stepping out of their homes, especially in situations where maintaining social distancing is difficult. You can use a tissue or a toothpick while touching the lift buttons. Make sure there is enough distance between you and your colleagues’s seat. At lunchtime, eat at a distance from others.
The threat of disease can lead us to become harsher judges of the people within our social group. The social attitude of people have become more conservative. This may reflect much deeper psychological shifts. So what can be done? Dr Ekta feels that it is true that people may become more conservative but the mindset has to change from avoiding people to taking the above mentioned precautions ourselves. “People must realise that the fight is against the virus and not with each other. It is possible to win only if we all work together. It is important that people take responsibility for educating people in their social circles or extended families. Make sure to circulate right and verified information only,” explains Dr Ariba.
These times are difficult for every single individual. Everyone is taking time to process the change and take care of their well-being. Compassion, empathy, and support will make it easier, believes Dr Niharika. She says, “If someone is taking time off from social media to disconnect or not responding to calls and messages, instead of dealing with it negatively, try to understand that the person needs time to focus on self. It has nothing to do with your relationship. This strengthens the bond and creates a sense of social security and support. It’s extremely important, especially in the current situation,” says she.
Certainly, the pandemic will still be there but life has to go on...