Alma Chopra, Life Counselor

“I have conquered Cerebellar Ataxia, and now I am conquering the world, one day at a time. “These are the words of Ms. Chopra, an entrepreneur, an internationally based Inspirational speaker, and an experienced life counselor, who likes to lead her life by example. Combining her wit and creativity with her spiritual knowledge, she is inspiring people to stay positive and has dedicated her life to giving back to others. As per Alma, bringing a smile to someone’s face is what motivates her.

 

“He who has health has hope, and he who has hope has everything,” this phrase cannot be more accurate in light of the pandemic that has wreaked havoc in our lives, disrupting our routines, education, recreation, livelihoods, and mental health. The COVID-19 epidemic and the ensuing economic downturn have had a severe impact on many peoples’ mental health and created additional hurdles for those who already suffered from mental illness and drug use disorders.

In addition to the underlying difficulties that individuals were dealing with, factors such as lockdown, income loss, fear of catching the virus, and physical separation further amplified anxiety, stress, despair, stigmatization, and xenophobia.

The worst affected were the employees as the pandemic led to major business disruption. Since the businesses were impacted adversely, the majority of them closed, resulting in widespread layoffs and wage cuts, which caused psychological anguish and significant depression among employees.

The Mental health of people during Pandemic

The outbreak not only resulted in a tremendous loss of human life, but also brought many unprecedented mental problems. Different people were affected differently by the pandemic. For women, household responsibilities rose exponentially, as did incidents of domestic violence. Children and teens were left feeling alone and frustrated as a result of university closures, postponed exams, and cancelled festivities. Furthermore, many youngsters became victims of cyber bullying as a result of their use of social media to alleviate their loneliness.

Doctors and frontline workers were overloaded and experienced anxiety and sadness as a result of their fear of contracting the infection and being subjected to violent actions. Elders experienced severe mental health difficulties as a result of the epidemic, which induced a traumatic situation for them.

Employee mental health

Young adults were already at a high risk of poor mental health and drug use disorder even before the pandemic, however many did not obtain treatment. In a UNICEF study of 21 nations, just 41% of young people in India thought it is a good idea to get help for mental health problems, compared to an average of 83% across the 21 countries.

The pandemic added fuel to the fire by causing job losses, longer working hours, and the move to remote working, all of which exacerbated depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, low self-esteem, and higher usage of drug use disorder and suicides.

 

Work from Home – the new norm

As the catastrophe continued to ravage the world, our reliance on technology increased tremendously, and working from home or telecommuting became the new normal. Since last year, remote working has been in the spotlight because of Covid and has significantly transformed the way an organization and its people work.

After the initial euphoria, many employees reported a fall in their productivity and performance. According to a survey, the amount of time spent in the workplace increased by at least 1.5 hours. When working from home, many employees experienced mental health problems especially working parents with babies or children. For some, it was difficult to create an efficient work environment as there were disruptions and distractions. Increased work hours, increased food consumption, and a lack of exercise all resulted in a decline in emotional and physical well-being.

Several sources, including Lancet Global Health, the WHO, and Screen Time Tracker Datareportal, suggest that Indians have sustained the largest loss of vision in 2020 (even though other factors like Glaucoma, cataracts, and others at the same time affected their vision). Study findings reveal that 22.7% of Indians suffer from vision problems as a result of their excessive use of screens, used for an average of 6 hours, 36 minutes each day. In addition to the strain on the eyes, many people also reported problems like neck and back pain. 

On the one hand, this Hybrid work model left employees feeling isolated in absence of physical interaction with their colleagues, and on the other hand it encouraged better productivity and cost savings. Employees loved their newfound freedom, which included flexible working hours, reduced or eliminated commuting time, and a better work-life balance. For Employers and employees, the greatest advantage that remote working offered was that it facilitated the hiring of the available talent from outside of a company’s immediate geographic region. 

According to PWC research, remote working has been a huge success for both businesses and employees. While 13% of employees do not want to return to work, 87 percent believe that working in an office is beneficial for interacting with co-workers and developing relationships. Once pandemic fears abate, more than half of the employees want to work remotely at least three days each week. Respondents with the least professional experience are more inclined to remain in the workplace since working remotely makes them feel less productive.

Tips for improving mental health

The epidemic has had a profound impact on people’s mental health, both short and long-term. The takeaway message from our Covid experiences is that life is not always easy or forgiving; therefore we must become stronger and more resilient. Here are some everyday recommendations to help you maintain your health during these trying times.

  • Exercise every day as it not only helps in keeping a healthy weight and lowering the risk of chronic illnesses, but also for alleviating stress and anxiety, improving cognition, promoting better sleep, and overall mood. 
  • Follow a schedule to staying in routine.
  • Practice deep breathing and meditation as it helps to promote inner peace and calmness, as well as to find happiness and joy. 
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet consisting of many vegetables and fruit every day.
  •  If you work remotely, cleaning up your workstation will help you focus.
  • Limit your coffee intake, since it will raise your anxiety levels.
  • Make sure to be in touch with friends and family through online calls and video calls.
  • Make an effort to disconnect from traditional and social media at regular intervals. 
  • If you are going through a difficult period, contact an online therapist or counselor.

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