The recent pandemic of COVID-19 has forced over one-third of the world’s population to limit themselves to their homes. A lot of countries, including India, have implemented a complete lockdown to break the spread of the virus, without which the virus would have resulted in a chain reaction too difficult to stop or even control. In such difficult times, it is important for all of us to contribute towards containing the spread of this disease by practicing social distance and by avoiding the outside world except in times grave of necessity.
However, it is impossible for human species to practice complete social distance and the task of staying at home all the time for more than a month now has started taking a toll on the mental health of the people. Reports of people suffering from anxiety, low moods, frustration, and inexplicable stress and fear are coming out regularly from every stratum of society. Adults are finding it difficult to maintain focus and deal with the dual responsibility of handling both the professional and domestic lives since the lockdown is preventing people from employee domestic help; children are unable to tackle being stuck at home and not being able to explore outdoor activities or meet their friends; while elderlies keep themselves occupied just with the television and limited to no interaction within the family due to mounting pressure on the working members.
Without a healthy social life and regular in-person interactions, it is becoming immensely hard for every one of us to maintain the lifestyle we all have become accustomed to. The social distance, we all have been advised, requested, even forced to practice is the critical need of the hour. It does not have to translate into emotional distance and isolation. In fact, the exact measure we have been asked to take is physical distancing. Not being out in public, maintaining physical distance from people without or with symptoms, and limiting any activities that include assembly of more three people.
At a time like this, it is even more important to not lose our emotional fiber and cut-off from the people close to us simply because of the lack of physical meetings. Keeping up a healthy emotional connection with not just the family members but also any person you might come across – a neighbor, a grocery delivery person, a medic, anyone, will help us in maintaining the mental calm we all require presently.
As bad as the situation due to COVID-19 is, we all have gotten a rare opportunity to sit back and build stronger social fibers and emotional bonds with our family members, friends and even the people we do not know too well but always hoped to. Breaking the monotonous cycle of daily life, especially those of people living in the metro cities, we can utilize this chance to come closer to everyone we have known over the ages.
Remember the time when people used to send each other letters instead of simply dialing up someone’s number on the phone? That era has gone but the situation is similar to it. Today, we have technology at our disposal to connect with people from all around the world and nominal to no cost as we all practice social distancing.
Staying away from our loved ones or being at home with the people you love for such a long stretch of time have opposite effects. When we spend 24×7 time with someone with confined space, it causes cabin fever, while staying away from the people we love in a scary situation such as this pandemic, causes a high level of fear and anxiety.
To counter both the reactions that we are facing under the lockdown, we must invest ourselves in more than just working on our laptops from home and consuming content from OTT platforms. Connect with people using technology, speak out your feelings and emotions, share the common feelings we all are going through, finish the book you could not find time to read, take an online course in the language always wanted to learn. It is important to expel the emotional energy that builds within us during social distancing and trying new things at home so as to not isolating ourselves from the world.
Social distance is to prevent us all from catching an untreatable disease, not to prevent us from staying connected at heart.