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Continued from Previous……

Government has decided to extend lockdown till 14th April. We pray and hope this may not be extended further.

Lockdown is taking its toll inexorably. Stress is also piling up besides other more talked about economic aspects. Stress is not limited to working adults; it is running in the whole family and among extended families.

Dr. Huma Aslam, a Lahore based consultant psychiatrist whom I know and hold in high regard for compassion and competence, has recently made certain recommendations in a video message posted on her Facebook page. Please follow the link at the end to listen to the full post. These recommendations are a reminder-in-time and remedy to handle current stress situation.

With her permission, I would like to reproduce those tips here with my own commentary below each point.

  1. Do not keep sticking to TV screen. And restrict Social Media Posts.
    1. Every channel that you will see will be trying to outcompete the other one in creating sensation. Our media were never known to be responsible in reporting as corporates. Add to this the untrained reporters who do not even know basics of journalism, and you have the stream of high energy news blasts with low substance.
    2. TV channels may be reporting unconfirmed reports which distort the actual picture.
    3. TV watching even under normal circumstances is stressful. In these times, it is even more so as we see rising numbers of patients and some deaths too.
    4. Due to specific conditions related to Corona Virus, such news create helplessness and hopelessness among masses.
    5. Social Media is bursting with all kinds of mood-lifting and mood-draining posts. The average number of posts and forwards received by a common person is running into hundreds. We are also becoming part of the problem by forwarding whatever we receive. It is a chain reaction which is becoming a snowball fast.

It is therefore important to ration TV watching and making a promise not to become part of useless forwarding chain.

  1. Take 6-8 hours of proper sleep during nighttime.
    1. The key words, as I understand, here are ‘proper’ and ‘nighttime’.
    2. What I am looking at is that the social media is awake almost round the clock. People are up late and keep reading, forwarding and posting.
    3. Other people are watching movies and dramas to kill time and relieve stress. McKinsey, the global research and consulting company has reported in their ‘Corona Virus Special Articles’ that the streaming giant Netflix decided to stream low-resolution videos in regions where internet broadband is under intense pressure due to unprecedented usage. Children are studying online, adults are doing work from home online and others are surfing internet or streaming from Netflix, YouTube and the likes, besides using social media. The users will not probably feel the difference. While it serves Netflix well, it does not bode well for people.
    4. Under normal circumstances, the weekend means destroying the weeklong discipline of sleep-wake pattern, even if for a day. Monday mornings are therefore groggy and tired. Now, due to long, forced holidays, the norms of sleep-wake cycle have been seriously disrupted.
    5. Day-sleep is not a substitute for night-sleep due to biological reasons. It does not help to complete 6-8 hours by sleeping during the day.
    6. It is even worse to sleep in small portions of 2-3 hours, 2 or three times in 24 hours.
  2. Avoid taking fast food, junk food, sugary drinks and energy drinks as these affect immunity adversely. Rather, ensure intake of proteins like eggs, grains, and meat.
    1. Sugary drinks and so-called energy drinks stimulate the nervous system which is already running on high adrenaline. They will only aggravate.
    2. Fast food joints are closed for service inside. Home deliveries are on, thanks to Food Panda and direct deliveries.
    3. Junk food is not good at any time. At this particular time, when we need to have optimum level of health and immunity, junk/fast food must be cut down.
    4. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and a healthy mix of home-prepared food should be taken. Cooking is a great activity. It is cathartic and at the end it gives something to eat. Everyone is invited to try their hand at food making business at home.
    5. The level of activity is quite low. High calorie diets will quickly lead to unwanted weight gain which will be difficult to get rid of later. Excess weight has its serious issues.
  3. Refrain from smoking.
    1. Smokers usually smoke more when they have nothing better to do. This time will quite likely see a rise in smoking.
    2. Cigarette shops are open in the guise of selling food as they have put some eggs and bread to show. Availability is easy and so is consumption.
    3. Nicotine in cigarette is a nervous system stimulant. Our nerves are already on the edge due to uncertainty and fear of the COVID19 status updates. Who needs more stimulation anyway?
  4. Develop productive leisure time activities like book reading, gardening, and so on.
    1. Please take out that project which you had been thinking of doing but could not do due to busyness. This is the time to do it.
    2. Catch up on your reading list and allocate a dedicated time for reading. No better companion than a book has ever been created.
    3. If you have a garden, spend some time tending to it. If you do not have garden space, you can keep a few indoor plants and look after these.
    4. If you are DIY (Do It Yourself) type, you may consider doing some useful work around the house.
  5. Increase positive social interaction by talking to family and friends.
    1. Everyone is under stress. Calling the family, relatives and friends will uplift their mood and cheer us up also.
    2. During such interactions, it is highly recommended to avoid long discussion on Corona, otherwise the positivity from interaction will evaporate.
    3. Connecting with family and friends in such times is reassuring for all and helps to fight stress.
  6. Pray
    1. Nothing is more powerful, comforting and soothing than an earnest prayer before Allah.
    2. Connect and strengthen your relationship with Allah and seek His Protection and Blessing. Allah is Kind and Benevolent.
    3. Pray for yourself, your family, your friends, your co-workers, your country and humanity at large. We are all faced with a PANDEMIC.
  7. Do exercise every day
    1. At least 30 minutes physical activity every day is good for physical and mental health.
    2. Exercise also promotes feel-good emotions as we know we have done something nice.
  8. Support others
    1. It is highly recommended to support others in whichever way possible. It is noble, desirable and much needed right now.
    2. Support can be kind words, money, food, ration, taking care and helping others.
    3. Support is a two-way gratifying activity. Do spend time and resources on it.

COVID19 is here, but it will go away InshaAllah. We must try to find and create as much good as can be done in this stressful time. Keeping us and others calm, composed and healthy will help a lot in overcoming difficulties of this period. May Allah Bless us all. Aameen.


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