A nationwide lockdown is announced in India till April 14, 2020. While a situation like a lockdown can be difficult and stressful for most of us, it is important to maintain good mental health and not let anxiety and fear grip us. Staying calm, and being supportive to others around us will help us all wade through this crisis together.

The general public, children and the elderly at home, caregivers and medical workers, suspected, confirmed and recovered patients of COVID-19 need to now equally focus on their mental health along with their physical fitness. 

Before we dive into the tips for each of the above target groups on how to take care of their mental health during the lockdown, let us look at some general messages for all:

How to stay positive and cheerful?

  • Keep yourself informed, but read-only from trusted sources

  • Focus on positive news like an increasing number of cured cases. Remember most people recover from COVID-19 with proper rest and care

  • Keep yourself busy. Make a daily schedule and follow it

  • Rediscover old hobbies like painting, dancing, gardening or stitching

  • Practice yoga or meditation to stay calm and beat stress

Things to avoid doing during the lockdown:

  • Limit your social media and TV time. Do not watch COVID-19 updates; rejects rumors and theories

  • Avoid fried, fatty and cold food items

  • Do not work from the same corner or room every day (only if you are not self-isolating due to any form of sickness)

  • Do not panic if you have a common cold. Consult your doctor immediately

How children can keep themselves busy during a lockdown?

The COVID-19 outbreak can make children anxious and confused. Provide reassurance to children and answer their queries calmly. Simple ways by which children can stay busy and happy are:

  • Indulge in indoor games, drawing or watching cartoons

  • Do household chores like washing dishes and drying clothes

  • Stay virtually connected with friends and cousins

  • Eat nutritious meals, exercise daily and sleep well

  • Study or read daily and stay connected with their syllabus

Tips for the elderly to take care of their mental health

Isolation and lockdown can result in loneliness and overwhelming emotions and fear in the elderly. Some ways by which elderly family members can protect their mental health are:

  • Spend considerable time with your family and engage in meaningful conversations

  • Do simple yoga, meditation or light exercises daily at home

  • Get involved in activities like watering plants and cleaning vegetables

  • Stay regularly in touch with loves ones

How caregivers at home can deal with mental stress?

Caring for loves ones at home can be mentally straining. Here’s how you can deal with mental stress during the lockdown:

  • Do not to panic each time a family member coughs/ sneezes or feels unwell

  • Read about hopeful and positive stories of recovery and cure of COVID-19 cases

  • Take ample rest and eat healthy meals on time

  • Prepare a list of important contact numbers (government helpline numbers, healthcare provider numbers) that can be helpful during an emergency

  • Set a daily routine.  Seek help from other family members. Do not feel overwhelmed or over-burdened

Tips for healthcare workers and providers

A pandemic like COVID-19 can be a traumatic experience for any healthcare worker and provider. One is required to work round the clock and deal with infected patients and their families at the hospital.

  • Congratulate yourself every day for working tirelessly and continuously

  • Feel proud of your selfless service and contribution to the society and to the nation in times like these

  • Take care of yourself. Avoid alcohol and other drugs. Eat timely meals and take sufficient breaks during your shifts

  • Try and discuss matters that do not revolve around COVID-19 or current situation

  • Connect with friends and family from time to time

Tips to help people who are in self-isolation

Self-isolation means staying indoors all by yourself. Self-isolation could last from about 5 days to up till 2 weeks. If you are self-isolating, remember to:

  • Keep a daily routine. Read a book or do something creative.

  • Practice meditation or breathing exercises to remain calm and stress-free

  • Read information and updates only from trusted sources

  • Connect with friends and family virtually to beat boredom and loneliness

Let’s all try and look at the positive side of this lockdown and keep our calm. It is important to stay hopeful and help each other get through these tough times. 

Read more on guidelines for mental health and psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak: