Mental health refers to cognitive, behavioural, and emotional well-being. It is all about how people think, feel, and behave. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. WHO says that India tops the list of countries with the greatest burden of mental and behavioural disorders.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a serious threat looms over the health sector of the entire globe which has bound people to stay inside the house maintaining physical distancing protocols. Even in India, all the four phases of lockdown have forced the college and university students to be at home that as a result leads to a very suffocating and depressing state of mind. Mental health should get the first priority among all the students during this crisis situation. Many of them may lately recognise a mental health issue within themselves, as they might not be able to figure out when and where it came from. But, due to the lockdown protocols, they are away from their friends, classmates, teachers and their favourite college environment that have definitely aggravated their issues of mental health crisis.
You may face different mental health issues, such as Stress and Anxiety, Depression, Addiction and Alcoholism, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), Eating Disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Self-injury, Sleeping difficulty, etc.
How can you come out of these issues during this global health crisis? “POSITIVITY” is a mantra to remain mentally fit and healthy during this pandemic. Positivity means a positive frame of mind. Positivity means thinking in an optimistic way, looking for solutions, expecting good results and success, and focusing and making life happier. It is a happy and worry-free state of mind, which looks at the bright side of life. For a good mental health, of course, the ultimate solution is positivity. However, here I am trying to use this term as an abbreviation. Let’s enumerate, what positivity stands for.
P- Pleasurable Activity: To improve your mental state, you need to engage yourself in pleasurable activities. Your preferable activities might be or used to be out of your reach. It may lie in the external environment. So in such cases, it is important to make shift of preferences over activities. It is important to change your preferable activities to listen to music, dancing, drawing, reading books, cooking, watching movies. But what one also have to understand is that we are not alone in this fight of changing mental status, the entire world is facing this menace where searching pleasure in activities that might not have pleased one for long may become a common objective. Apart from this, one should also be aware that excessive social media consumption may depress oneself.
O- Objectives and Goals: One definitely has objectives or goals in their lives. Otherwise set the goals, but they should be realistic in nature. Envisioning a world where the problem no longer exists and taking steps to resolve it can be a very effective way of improving mood and changing the external circumstances that are triggering the difficulties.
S- Support Network: Most importantly, one need a support network of teachers, parents, and friends, who can reduce feelings of isolation. One must create that network by themselves, who will help one to think differently about their circumstances, and improve their mood.
I- Identify: The root of the problem is considering the symptoms to be normal. Irritability, feeling constantly tired or on edge, headaches mood swings or insomnia are common signs that something wrong is going on and cannot be ignored. It is very good to realise that many people among us might suffer from similar issues.
T- TIPP-Body Chemistry: Our biological component is interlinked to our mental state. TIPP (Temperature, Intense exercise, Paced breathing, and Paired muscle relaxation) is a formula one can apply. For example, you can take a shower to change your body temperature.
I- In-action: One probably spends a lot of time sleeping or sitting at home during the lockdown. But it’s important to burn the calories. It’s easy to make a resolution to get fit, but staying active in this situation can be also be challenging. It can be hard to remain motivated and all kinds of barriers can get in the way of be in-action.
V- Value Yourself: Treat yourself with kindness and respect, and avoid self-criticism. You need to assess yourself. That’s required, but avoid self-criticism every time. Self-value is more behavioural than emotional, more about how you act toward what you value, including yourself, than how you feel about yourself compared to others.
I- Information: Believe on ‘information’; don’t suffer from information disorder, i.e. misinformation, disinformation and mal-information. With a sea of misinformation flooded around the novel coronavirus, this time has been painted as the time of fake news and rumours on the social media. So, one should believe on the information derived from authentic sources only, not on the virality of information over social media. Try to activate your mind for inculcation of authentic information.
T- Time-table: Maintaining a time table is very much required during this crisis situation, but break the monotony. One may face sleeping difficulty during this menace, since they don’t have much physical mobility, it’s natural. Don’t use mobile phone at least for two hours prior to one’s scheduled sleep and read a book. And wake up in the morning at the same time.
Y- Yoga and meditation always help for a good mental health. One may think that it’s not going to help them. Try at least for a week. Otherwise, sit in a place, where no one can disturb you and close your eyes and try to remember the most favourable moment of your life.
This “POSITIVITY” formula will help you a lot. You, the students are worried for your future, many of you have also communicated to me for your project works, examinations, campus recruitment, jobs and for your near future. We don’t know how the world would be in the post-COVID period. But, for sure, it would take a decade to become as normal as we had to be last year. We have to struggle in this crisis and overcome from the negativity. Don’t treat this time as a break, but utilise your time with all your positive energy and acquire new skills. Definitely, “We can overcome.”
(The author is an Associate Professor and the Head, Department of Communication & Journalism, Gauhati University. He’s also the Managing Trustee of Dr Anamika Ray Memorial Trust. He can be reached at his twitter handle – @ankurandutta)