Don’t let the fear of COVID-19 turn into a stigma

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the world with its never-ending number of cases, creating fear and anxiety among the people. Ignorance about the disease, confusion and misinformation, are acting as a fuel in escalating the fear, which may turn into social stigma.Instances have been reported about some people blaming a particular community for the spread of COVID-19 disease. Considering such instances, the central government on Wednesday issued an advisory to address the social stigma associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The advisory urged people not to label any community or area for the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“Public health emergencies during an outbreak of communicable diseases may cause fear and anxiety leading to prejudices against people and communities, social isolation and stigma. Such behaviour may culminate into increased hostility, chaos and unnecessary social disruptions,” the Health Ministry said in the advisory posted on its website.

The ministry also listed various dos and don’ts in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. “Do not target healthcare and sanitary workers or police. They are there to help you,” it said. The advisory came amid cases of harassment and social stigmatization of healthcare and sanitation workers.

“Do not label any community or area for spread of COVID-19,” the advisory added.

If you are also struggling with fear or anxiety, it is quite understandable, given the circumstances we are facing currently amidst this pandemic. We bring to you some helpful ways to reduce your anxiety, nervousness, or stress.

Get some fresh air, spend time with nature

Go for a walk in your local park or neighborhood, but make sure to maintain physical distancing from others around you. Sitting on the terrace or even by an open window can be beneficial. Spending time in nature can be very therapeutic. Being connected to nature not only will make you feel better emotionally, but it can help reduce blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones—all signals of stress and fear.

Stay connected with others

Social isolation is the need of the hour to slow down the spread of the virus but not being able to see your friends and loved ones can make you feel more lonely, anxious, and depressed. To combat this, build a network of people you trust and share your concerns and feelings with them. Make good use of the technology, your phone or laptop, to connect with people. Talk to your parents or relatives every day, this can make a huge difference when it comes to your mental wellbeing.

Try relaxing activities

Do some activities you enjoy like reading, listening to music, watching movies or TV shows, cooking, etc.  These can distract you from those negative thoughts about the COVID-19 pandemic and may help you relax. You may also join a free meditation and mindfulness program online.

Maintain a routine

Even if you are stuck at home, maintain a routine and follow it strictly. This can keep your mind and body on track. Get up at the same time every morning, and don’t stay up late at night just because you don’t have office the next day. Keeping a regular sleep schedule can help maintain the timing of the body’s internal clock and help you fall asleep and wake up more easily.

Eat well to stay healthy

Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, and avoid alcohol and drugs. There is still no cure or specific treatment for COVID-19. Health experts suggest that boosting your body’s immune system may help minimize the effects of the virus and hasten the recovery from the disease. Superfoods like broccoli, mushrooms, and even kale are a few immunity boosting foods that you can include in your diet

Exercise daily 

Take out at least 30 minutes daily to do exercise or add some physical activity into your daily routine. Stretching, jumping jacks, light yoga, or Pilates are some good options to stay active.