In this article, you will learn about the psychological, physical, and attitudinal effects that we can have due to the current pandemic and the things we can do to reduce these effects.
As countries around the world take measures to reduce the number of people infected with COVID-19, more and more of us are making huge changes to our daily routines. The new realities of working from home, temporary unemployment, home-schooling of children, and lack of physical contact with other family members, friends, and colleagues can take its toll.
Adapting to lifestyle changes such as these and managing the fear of contracting the virus and worrying about people close to us who are particularly vulnerable, are challenging for all of us.
When emergencies such as COVID-19 occur, it is normal to have psychological reactions such as feeling fear, having anxiety, having a catastrophic vision of life, and imagining that the worst can happen. However, these reactions can affect or cause an emotional imbalance when they are consistent.
How can COVID-19 pandemic affect me and my family?
It can generate psychological and physical effects and also effects on our attitudes or activities.
1. Psychological Effects:
- Collective panic
- Catastrophic vision: believing that something bad is going to happen to me, my family, or friends
2. Effects on Attitudes:
- Panic shopping – such as stocking food and hygiene items by fear or market shortages
- Consumption of dangerous or harmful substances: use of prohibited drugs, excessive cigarette smoking, alcoholism, etc.
- Excessive food consumption, or consumption of unhealthy foods
- Exposing yourself too much to the contagion of the virus, believing that all people will get sick at some point
- Isolation from family or friends: lack of communication
Does Mental Health Have an Impact on Physical Health?
Yes, because we humans are physically, psychologically, and socially integrated, the emotional or psychological impacts of the COVID-19 emergency can also affect us physically.
Some of the physical manifestations that you may feel are:
- Increased heart rate
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Sleeping too much and not feeling rested
- Accelerated breathing
- Difficulty to focus
- Excessive tiredness
What Can I do to Reduce the Negative Effects and Feel Better?
It is important that during a crisis you take care of yourself and your loved ones, both physically and mentally. Here are several simple tips to relieve stress which we have compiled, with the help of recourses like WHO and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on mental health.
1. Less Exposure to Distressing News
The constant stream of COVID-19 news can cause anyone to feel worried. So, it is really important to minimize watching, reading or listening to news that causes you to feel anxious or distressed. Seek information updates at specific times during the day, once or twice per day only, so to not feel overwhelmed by it.
2. Get Facts, Not Rumors
Equally important is that you seek information only from trusted and credible sources. Get the facts about your risk and how to take precautions, they can help to minimize fears.
The World Health Organization (WHO) website or, national public health website are credible sources of information, in order to help you distinguish facts from rumors. Here is a link of an article on infodemic.
There is a lot of fake news circulating on WhatsApp and other communication tools. Please always fact-check your sources of information.
3. Keep a Healthy Routine
The lockdown has greatly impacted our daily routines and habits. Adapting your daily schedule or making new routines can help.
Including family members, friends and roommates, while creating or adapting a schedule can be of help too. You can make a plan together on how to support each other and also share your personal needs.
If you have children, you can find some useful tips and ideas here, published by UNICEF.
As we’re forced to stay inside, it is really important to keep a healthy lifestyle. Try as much as possible to eat healthy and sleep regularly. Exercise is also very important. There are lots of good tutorials available on YouTube to exercise, depending on what you enjoy and find relaxing.
4. Talk to People You Trust
Stay connected! Contact your friends and family, regardless where they are. Talking to the people you love can make the difference, for you and for them. Here some ideas for you.
- You can set up scheduled weekly calls with family or friends groups where you can play games, cook together, and share stories.
- You can also make a list of three people who you feel comfortable reaching out to when you are having a really hard day; call them and ask them to be your ‘support buddy’. This way, you already have an established connection with a trusted friend/family member to openly share your feelings with.
If you feel overwhelmed, you can also talk to a health or social worker, or another trusted person in your community (e.g., religious leader or community elder).
5. Stress Management Techniques
To manage stress, it’s also important you pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Practicing mindfulness can help you to increase your ability to regulate emotions and decrease stress and anxiety! It can also help you to focus your attention.
Practicing mindfulness includes breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.
6. Consider Talking to an Expert
It is normal to feel sad, distressed, worried, confused, scared or angry during a crisis. And it is really important for you to learn some strategies to cope with stress and anxiety. This isn’t an easy thing, so if you feel you want to talk to someone who can help you, following are some options for you.
Through the following helplines you can receive psycho-social support and practical advice. You can reach the counselors from your smartphone, tablet, or a computer from any location in the country. The service is free-of-charge and available in Urdu and Pashto. If you need Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS), call at:
- Khyber Pakhtunkhwa:
Helpline number: 0800-77657
Timing: 9am – 5pm (Monday to Friday)
Languages: Urdu, Pashto
Helpline number: 0800-77678
Timing: 9am – 5pm (Monday to Friday)
Languages: Urdu, Brahvi, Balochi, and Pashto
The Government of Sindh has also launched a Telecounseling service (1093) for the confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients to help them cope with the psychological impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. This helpline functions 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you need help understanding if the information you received is true, you can drop us a private message on our Facebook Page.