Social distancing, isolation and quarantine have become a new norm during pandemic to help prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Although social distancing/isolation have curbed the spread of infection but have a significant impact on health, leading to conditions such as depression, anxiety, and severe stress. Research has shown that some people who were isolated during pandemic developed psychological distress.
Due to increased Cases of Omicron variant of COVID-19 more people are getting infected with this virus, and it is likely that infection rate is going to rise further . Since the severity of the infection is mild, so home isolation will be the safest option left.
Social isolation almost affects everyone irrespective of gender, age etc. Quarantine and isolation has strong impact on mental health of those who are already suffering from mental illnesses. Adopting appropriate steps to keep social and familial connections, maintaining healthy activities, and emotional management and can help relieve the adverse consequences of loneliness and isolation.
Some signs and symptoms that suggest that isolation is affecting a person’s mental health may include:
• Feelings of depression and anxiety: A person is in constant need of company of family and friends so it is very common to get feeling of anxiety or depression, when alone.
• Passive attitude: Being confined to a closed space for long can lead to passive attitude.
• Poor sleep quality: Since a person knows he does not have to go anywhere for a while, the sleep pattern changes and thus leads to poor sleep quality.
• Altered memory: Seclusion for long can lead to altered memory.
• Poor self-care or self-neglect: People don’t take bath or change clothes when they are stressed.
• Restlessness or irritability: People may experience restlessness or irritability, when alone for long periods.
• Persistent worry: Too much free time leads a person to worry about each and every aspect of life and hence can be unpleasant.
• Sleeping too much or too little: A person may either sleep too little or too much and both can prove to be harmful for one’s health.
• Inability to concentrate: It sometimes becomes difficult to concentrate on a particular subject.
• Suicidal thoughts: Not all, but many of them develop these thoughts.
• Confused thinking: Thinking can be impaired and can lead to confusion.
• Excessive feelings of anger or fear: sometimes, seclusion can lead to feelings of fear or anger.
• Perceptual abnormality.
• Extreme swings in emotion can be noted in some.
• Inability to cope with daily problems is noted in some after staying away from routine for long.
• Numerous unexplained physical ailments. Vague unexplained physical symptoms may be experienced.
Tips for preventing the detrimental effect of loneliness and social isolation
? Ensure basic needs are met: Family and care givers should ensure food, medication, and mask accessibility of the affected person particularly for older adults, who live alone.
? Structure every single day: Pay attention to make every single day worth spending by planning to add practices enjoyable to one like reading, writing, drawing etc.
? Maintain physical and mental activities: Exercise has benefits for physical and psychological health (specifically for mood and cognition).
? Manage cognition, emotion, and mood: Conscious breathing, meditation, and other relaxation techniques can be helpful for the mind and body and can decrease one’s level of anxiety and depression.
? Avoid doom scrolling: It is important to avoid “doom scrolling”, which is the tendency to continue to scroll through bad news on your mobile phone.
? Develop a routine: Every day routine should be planned and it is best to maintain it like normal routine as possible.
? Listen to music and stay active: For some music is the food for soul, so when you have time, enjoy it.
? Practice mindfulness: It is best to keep one’s mind fresh and clear from negative thoughts.
? Try to indulge in self-care: Daily routine should include sparing few moments for self care.
? Talking to your friends over calls: Always remember your family and friends, the people that care for you are just a phone call away. So never hesitate to give them a call when you feel low. stay connected.
? Eating nutritious good food: Eat healthy to stay healthy.
? Learn some new Skills: Those enjoyable hobbies or skills that we always wanted to learn about but never found enough time for .Well! Now is the time.
? Avoid tobacco, alcohol and drugs.
? Limit screen time.
Now that we have been coping with this pandemic for quite some time, emphasis should be laid on abolishing the practice of stigmatizing these patients and giving them proper physical and mental health care they very well deserve. Steps should be taken to bridge the gap between patients and caregivers and health care professionals in this crucial time.
Family and care givers should always remember that sometimes we underestimate the power of simple acts like a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or even a very small act of care, but each one of these acts are capable of turning a life around. So never seize to care for your loved ones.