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Feeling hopeless in the time of Covid-19

2 years ago

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By Dimithri Wijesinghe With the resurgence of the pandemic in the form of a second wave and the effects getting progressively more severe, the looming uncertainty has instilled a feeling of hopelessness amongst the general public. [caption id="attachment_100448" align="alignright" width="200"] SMKYA Co-Founder/Head Coach Samaakhya Gajanayake[/caption] Once again, there has come a time where we must remind ourselves to not only take care of our physical wellbeing but also our mental health. While everyone and anyone is understandably affected by the new developments – i.e. the spike in Covid-19 patients – there are those whom are especially vulnerable to the stresses that come with it. Speaking to National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) senior consultant psychiatrist Dr. Pushpa Ranasinghe about the mental stresses likely to affect those of us during these turbulent times, she shared: “There are negatives and positives to this new wave we are experiencing. The negatives being that because we have experienced this once before and many have seen that there were only 13 deaths – persons who were having previous complications to begin with – it is likely that the public may take things lightly this time around, but what they may not realise is that the virus has the potential to change and become a different beast.” However, she said, on a positive note: “The fact that we have already once lived through it brings forth a number of positives, the major one being that we have lived through it – we have seen what we must do and that when we do it, we can overcome it.” Talking about the importance of mental health at these times, Dr. Ranasinghe shared: “There are many parties whom are under extreme stress right now; if you consider those in the tourism and export-import industries, they are under a lot of strain not being able to rely on their trade and livelihood. And since the lockdown, due to its effects on the economy, there have been many budget cuts and employees have been let go, which puts a lot of strain on the remaining employees as well; whereas a job that took 20 people to do would now be done by five people, thus putting them under a lot of pressure.” She especially pointed out that young adults are particularly susceptible to stress, especially students preparing for Advanced Level (A/L) examinations and such other exams that are important milestones in their lives. “Students sitting exams are especially vulnerable considering they have had to play the waiting game; the uncertainty can be extremely stressful and the World Health Organisation (WHO) predicted that there will be a 20% spike in suicide rates globally, primarily due to those who need mental health services not having access to it and also because early detection is compromised. “This is because loved ones and family, who often detect the mental state of a suicidal person and thereby aid in preventing it, are less likely to be attuned to the needs of those in distress due to being preoccupied with maintaining their physical health and also securing daily meals and getting by.” However, she did point out that there are things to look forward to if you are at all concerned about walking into an exam hall whilst fearing that there is really no escape form this pandemic’s effects. “There are some positives for students taking exams as they are expected to show up for the exams. Sri Lanka recently had an election and while it was predicted that following the election there would be a spike in cases, there were no such reports and so we have a great case study proving that if you are to follow what the health authorities say and follow the guidelines, then you can avoid being at risk,” she said. Considering that students sitting exams are likely to be under a lot of stress during this time, we reached out to SMKYA Co-Founder/Head Coach Samaakhya Gajanayake, known for her motivation routines online and her fitness brand SMKYA, for some advice for the youths, especially those preparing for the A/L examinations. Here’s what Samaakhya had to say: “Preparing for exams during a pandemic sounds like a proper nightmare! But why not make these strange times work for you? Here are my top tips on how to make the best of this unusual situation.”
  1. A method to your madness
Of course, it’s easy and tempting to lie in bed all day, but a bit of planning is important. Working to a schedule does not mean overworking. It simply means you balance out your work and leisure time. Some options like writing a to-do list, using Google Calendar, making a timetable, sharing your schedule with a friend, etc. will help you divide your time equally between your studies/chores and your hobbies and fun activities.
  1. Easier to work when working out!
Working out is not only about getting fit and strong. Did you know that exercise promotes brain development, concentration, and your mood?! Sounds like everything you need to get some studies done. Make it simple and fun. Go for a walk or a jog, try some home workouts or a bit of yoga. There's plenty of experts who have exciting options online.
  1. Life happens offline!
At this stage, social media might seem like the only thing keeping you in touch with the world and helping your sanity, but time away from the screen is a must. Most apps help you keep track of how long you spend online. Use that to see if you're living more online than in the real world. This can help you focus and concentrate.
  1. Work on your best version
Finally, spend as much time as you can on yourself, because it’s unlikely we will get another break from reality like this one! Reflect and look back and always ask yourself: What can I do to be a better version of myself?

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