3Rs for a sound Mental Health: Response, Resilience and Recovery
Is the current global situation only about dealing with the novel coronavirus? Do we need to focus solely on how to eliminate the virus or treat the COVID-19 infected? No, the pandemic has put the world in a crisis. The world is suffering from anxiety, depression, domestic violence, panic attacks, obsessive thinking, suicides, psychosomatic illness, and the usual distress. We need to calm down and try to take a step at a time. The cases of mental illness have increased within these three months of the pandemic.
Besides working to develop a vaccine against COVID-19, we need to take care of the people gradually moving into a mental disease. The psychological crisis is a lot more than a stressful life, and it requires a better defense strategy. We are dealing with unemployment, loss of loved ones, economic instability, inability to visit our loved ones who are suffering, hunger, social isolation, and racial violence alongside this deadly virus. Therefore, we need to devise a strategy to not only cope with this situation but also prepare ourselves for the future crisis to fight better.
Let us follow a 3R strategy to fight better:
Stress helps our body to fight back gradually. However, we respond to imagined and perceived stress in the same way. Thinking about stress or actually dealing with stress releases the stress hormones which weaken our immune system, makes us extremely alert to either fight or flight, ceases other processes, and leads to psychological symptoms – situational depressive disorders and transient anxiety. Stress has become a part of our way of life, and the current pandemic has added to the existing heavy load of cortisol in our bodies.
Firstly, let’s compartmentalize stress and respond to it one at a time. There can be stresses which we can put in control- do something about it! There can be some upon which we do not have any power- face it, deal with it, and let it go! We must understand the difference between real and imaginative stress. For instance, we know that the virus is around us, but it has not yet infected us. Till the time we are safe, let our body take a break from increased adrenals and cortex. Let’s not make our body release stress hormones by panicking and merely thinking that we might get infected.
Exercise, meditate, let your body enjoy the pleasure hormones, and increase your brain’s oxygen levels. Reverse stressful situations by facing it, dealing with it, analyzing it, and surviving with a well-practiced response.
Resilience can only be achieved through practice and experience. It is a quality that helps you fight every time something tries to bring you down. It is about accepting that you can experience both good and bad situations. Resilience requires rationality, the preparedness to face the challenge, and a substantial commitment to recovery. Resilience is an outstanding quality that helps us deal with any hardships coming our way, and all we need to practice is to breathe, think, and bring out our determination to keep ourselves going.
Recovery is about leaving your past, learning from it, and shifting your focus to your present. Recovery is learning not healing, acceptance of stress, not its absence, accepting the lack of control, not gaining control. Mindfulness alongside spiritual growth is recovery. News of deaths, frustration in family, occupation loss, and endless pain need to live the journey, adapt to situations, and stay resilient and hopeful. However, recovery depends on the way you define it.