Dr Kanan Khatau, Clinical Psychologist, Hypnotherapist, Emotional Safety Evangelist. She is the founder of MIND CELEBRATIONS, the first preventive mental health and emotional fitness movement globally.
From the omnipresent fear of actually contracting the disease to its devastating impact on physical health, Covid-19 has led to an unprecedented spike in stress, anxiety levels and work-life disharmony, bereavement.
Every individual who is infected with covid 19, might go through something called a grief cycle. It includes
- Denial – where one can feel how has this happened to him or her (despite all precautions and vaccination).
- Anger – we tend to blame either ourselves or someone else for the condition and alterations it brings to our life like change of plans, unscheduled expenditures etc.
- Bargaining – we tend to slowly adjust to the fact that it has happened and how can we minimise damage or come out faster from the condition. Trying to reduce impact to minimum both from illness perspective and spread of it to other family members and managing minimum economic impact on our lives.
- Acceptance – this phase allows us to work out a stronger approach to handle situations and work on faster recovery. It allows us to path of full recovery including impact covid can have on our mental health.
- Moving on – This brings the element of closure to the entire episode of falling ill (contracting covid) and recovering fully to start living once again in the post covid period (as a healthy individual).
Being in a space of covid isolation can aggravate one’s deepest fears. It makes us face our inner fears that the world we knew is changing every day. It forces us to face our inner helplessness and sense of being alone. If not channelised well & in time, it can turn to feelings of loneliness.
Some people respond to fixing their physical and emotional health almost instantly, whilst some of us take time to do so. The difference between these 2 sets of people is not intelligence or ability to gather information but the maturity of the survivor brain which is present in each one of us.
Our immunity and response to the virus is directly proportional to the maturity of our mindset because it amplifies issues that have been lingering in our subconscious.
How to build the muscles of your survivor’s brain:
Step 1: is to accept it has happened and it is a phase that will go. Winter turns to spring and night turns today. We should allow ourselves to move through the Denial to Anger to Bargain to Acceptance as fast as possible.
Step 2: in events like covid, the emotional part of the human brain, the amygdala is triggered. It turns the body to get into a mode of flight, fright or flee mode. This results in an increase in heart rate respiration. Directly reducing immunity and instead of enhancing panic responses. The best exercise is to regulate your breathing. Breathe in and out with a sound once every 90 minutes will help us to reset our amygdala and allow us responses conducive in such times. It is very similar to rebooting a computer that has got hanged due to multiple jobs or actions being performed at the same time.
Step 3: enhance and build emotional literacy, instead of running away from your emotions, always ask yourself – what am I really feeling? Once we are aware of this use tools to recalibrate it in case the emotions are non-conducive. I personally recommend emotional freedom techniques. It is a great tool to accept and love oneself, no matter what the emotional state may be.
Step 4: build mental fitness by using a wide lens in this phase. Some of the questions you can seek answers to by reflecting & journaling are
- In the current situation, How am I growing as a person?
- What can I do to relax truly?
- What parts of my personality have I discovered in this phase of life?
Step 5: Sound(s) can heal you using music and mediation. Alternatively, sound can also add to the existing anxiety and insomnia through mindless binge-watching screens or surfing the internet or social media. Hearing energising music can help you build personal fitness levels. Relaxation of the mind is important for physical and mental recovery. It also allows quick renewal of muscle, so do spend enough time on this too.
Step 6: Physical movement and light exercising can help a lot. If your health allows, gentle yoga and pranayama to start with. It will help release endorphins that keep us happy and are an integral part of managing good health.
Step 7: Stay away from toxicity by monitoring your thoughts. Toxicity can come to us much easily especially when we are vulnerable due to events like covid. Become aware of people that spread panic, treat you like a victim or add anxiety to your life. WhatsApp groups or social media messages can circulate & flair fake news or news that deter your personal recovery. News and media can add to the paranoia so be mindful of it.
Step 8: Be connected to people you love and whose compassion makes you feel belonged. Express gratitude to them for holding space in your life especially at such times.
Step 9: Making time disappear by reading and skill up-gradation through a short course may help you feel fit and engaged. It allows you to channelise time to better and more productive thoughts most of the time helping in reducing the time needed to recover fully from the illness.
You may be surprised how you may step out of the isolation if you focus on – how to renew yourself and reset instead of, focusing on an older you. You may have identified & developed a superpower within you with higher resilience and GRIT to offer to the world as a gift.