Given the extended circuit breaker that will last until the 1st of June, there have been a lot of uncertainty related to jobs, education, financial stability and how the community will cope with it. This is a challenging time for people all around the world. Human beings, who are social animals, are now told to go against our nature of socialising.

 

Covid-19 Anxiety

There is a sudden feeling of loss that comes from the lack of security in terms of being certain about our jobs and finances (Lee, 2020). This results in a lack of sense of control and an increase in anxiety that has negative effects on our mental health. When an individual is exposed to long periods of stress, it could overwhelm them and leave them with increased sense of hopelessness (Phua & Ang, 2020). Even individuals with no previous mental health issues may feel overwhelmed because of the situations they face due to the pandemic (Lee, 2020). Large-scaled disasters tend to impact people’s mental health negatively by causing depression and anxiety. Researchers have recently been trying to increase awareness about how mental health could be affected due to the pandemic (Cohen, 2020). Being further away from loved ones may make us feel as if we are no longer in our comfort zone. Anxiety that come during any other time due to exams or job interviews does not paralyse an individual. However, if the anxiety is repetitive and feels overwhelming, it causes various physical issues such as difficulties with digestion, insomnia and even irritability. When we experience this, it is time to reach out for professional help (Lee, 2020). However, the Asian culture may act as a barrier for people who require professional help. It is common to hear the following lines “don’t wash your dirty linen in public” or “just endure” because if you reach out and start talking about your issues, you may be perceived as someone who is “weak” (Karnageran, 2020). However, with the current situation, isolation leads to higher levels of depression and anxiety and being confined to a space for a long period of time will result in more negative emotions such as frustration (Toh, 2020). Living in a house with other family members who may be experiencing the same negative emotions may lead to unpleasant situations. In such circumstances, it is crucial that you reach out for professional help. 

 

Elderly

In Singapore, at least one quarter of the population are elderly (Tai, 2020). The elderly depend on caregivers and their loved ones for support. Not being allowed visitors to their houses and no longer being able to participate in activities and mingle with their friends  increases their loneliness (Foo, 2020). Social isolation leads to an increase in health risks for the elderly. Being isolated results in an increase in neurocognitive issues and autoimmune problems. A person’s brain chemistry can be altered due to isolation. This alteration leads to undesirable behavioural changes in the person (Tai, 2020). Although socialising is what they would need at this age, during a pandemic, the elderly are most at risk and they need to be protected. Thus, although social distancing is important, as a community we should do our part to let them know they are loved and we care for them. This way, they will not feel alone. Call your parents and grandparents often to check in and see how they are doing.

 

Coping

How often have we wished for a period of time where we could just be at home, enjoy a cup of tea, do work at our own pace and spend time with family. Even though a pandemic is not what we dreamt about, there are still some benefits that we could take advantage of to make our daily life better. Below are some ways to help you cope through the next one month.

  • Reframe the circumstances in your mind. Do not focus on feeling like you are in a prison. Instead, focus on how you finally have the opportunity to relax at home and how you have every moment for yourself.
  • Create a routine for yourself. Before circuit breaker, everyone had a routine. Routine keeps us going. However, now that we only stay at home, it could lead to a sedentary lifestyle that may do more harm to your mental health. Hence, it is important to create a routine that you are comfortable with. It could include anything such as cooking, exercising and reading books. This gives you something to look forward to everyday.
  • Remember to keep in touch with family and friends through Skype or WhatsApp video calls! Socialising through other methods now is important to combat anxiety and loneliness!

 

References

 Cohen, A. (2020). A second silent pandemic could sweep the country alongside COVID-19. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/90492874/a-second-silent-pandemic-will-sweep-the-country-alongside-covid-19

Karnageran, N. (2020). Shining the spotlight on mental wellness in sports during circuit breaker. Retrieved from https://www.tnp.sg/sports/team-singapore/shining-spotlight-mental-wellness

Lee, S. (2020). What is Covid-19 anxiety? Try these mental wellness tips. Retrieved from https://www.asiaone.com/lifestyle/what-covid-19-anxiety-try-these-mental-wellness-tips

Phua, R., & Ang, H. (2020). COVID-19: Worries about pandemic see more calls to mental health helplines. Retrieved from https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/covid-19-fear-toll-mental-health-hotline-anxiety-singapore-12631710

Tai, J. (2020). Coronavirus: Elderly hit hard by social isolation amid circuit breaker measures. Retrieved from https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/elderly-hit-hard-by-social-isolation-amid-circuit-breaker-measures

Toh, V. (2020). Simple things to do to stay positive while saying at home during circuit breaker. Retrieved from https://www.asiaone.com/lifestyle/simple-things-do-stay-positive-while-saying-home-during-circuit-breaker

Foo, J. (2020). Helping Singapore’s seniors cope with Covid-19 outbreak. Retrieved from https://www.todayonline.com/commentary/helping-singapores-seniors-cope-covid-19