Things that have become scary due to Covid-19 that previously weren't
Being carefree is now a thing of the past. And all of us have been plagued by anxiety. Every time we think about stepping out of the house, we are reminded of the pandemic.
Imagine it is a Saturday morning, and you are out on the street. You plan to run your regular weekend errands and head back home. While you walk down the road and enter the market area, you are greeted by a huge crowd. Some with a mask, some without. You stop and look around. What is the first thing that crosses your mind?
After 2020, we have all become very cautious. To come to think of it, everything changed in a day. Just yesterday you were your carefree-self and the next day, all your guards were up. Mask, sanitiser, shield — you name it. Throughout last year people spoke extensively about the "new normal" but even as we live through the three months of 2021, we do not see any traces of the expected.
Consider the example of the recent announcement of Kumbh Mela in Haridwar. The newly inducted chief minister of Uttarakhand, Tirath Singh Rawat was quoted by a news publication saying, "Kumbh happens only after 12 years. We don’t want people to miss out on the opportunity of experiencing the festival." While lakhs of people are expected to take part in the event, and the risk of infection increases in manifolds. It is difficult to pinpoint what exactly changed after the pandemic.
Despite all the efforts by governments, the situation does not seem to have changed much. Post-lockdown, people have become uncaring about all the precautionary measures. But having said that, apart from not wearing a mask or flouting rules, certain things have changed.
Being carefree is now a thing of the past. And all of us have been plagued by anxiety. Every time we think about stepping out of the house, we are reminded of the pandemic. Especially with the rise in the number of cases, after successfully controlling them. It is a reality check for everyone who has forgotten what is happening in the world.
"Sometimes, I feel like I have developed an x-ray vision. I see germs everywhere." "Were they always there? Yes." "Did I see them before? No," says a friend. But now, it is the anxiety that does not let us overlook all the germs that we possibly did not see earlier.
Eight things that do not feel the same as before:
Shopping at the mart: There is nothing about the mart that does not spell convenience. You find everything in the same place, do not have to carry any weight, and finding all the options right in front of you. But Covid has certainly changed the way I look at the mart. The trollies scream infection and I am suspicious of all the staff.
Meeting people on the road: No matter how closely you might know someone. Hugging, shaking hands is not the same anymore. Its a thought spiral that you might not invest in. Rather, just keep no contact. Because once you start thinking about how many people that person must have come in contact with, it just makes you more and more anxious.
Going on a date: Online dating apps saw a huge rise in demand during the pandemic. But as restrictions eased, the idea of finally meeting that person in real life must have been exciting. Only until anxiety kicks in. When thinking about going on a date with someone you have never met before is almost as scary as showing up for the wrong exam.
Travelling on public transport: Though public transport is one of the most economical ways of travelling, covid has changed how we look at it. Coming in contact with so many unknown people at once is both stressful and scary. Especially, holding bars and handles and even tickets has now become an instigator for anxiety.
Sharing public spaces: Prior to the pandemic, going to a park or cafe was a way of recreation. But now, we might think before we do that. The mere apprehension is enough to drive us away from wanting to experience any recreational activity.
Spa or other cosmetic services: A spa session or a pamper day have almost become a thing of the past. Though these are essential services, the close proximity between the service provider and yourself are reasons enough to drive anxiety at high rates. These services do not feel very relaxing anymore and have become one of the things we need to get done with.
Greeting animals on the street: Many people are used to playing with dogs and cats on the street. Previously, we did not care about how unhygienic the activity would be. Just a quick wash after reaching home would mostly be the solution. But post Covid, a lot has changed. Petting animals on the street is no more an act of love.
Going to work: Another topper when it comes to anxiety-driver is going to work. Even with masks, a person with sniffles is enough to drive your anxiety to the highest level, making you want to guard up at once!
How to deal with this anxiety?
The best way to deal with this anxiety is to keep a sanitiser handy and wear masks at all times. Apart from that it is also important to avoid social events if the interaction is too stressful for you.
It is also important to understand, that the exposure could be more stressful for some people. Hence, is it important to be sensitive and not force other to step out.
Dr Shivangi Pawar a practising psychiatrist says, "Often anxiety is caused when we lose control on the important aspects of our life which we assume are in our control. Due to covid pandemic there is sense of uncertainty everywhere, people are very stressed due to various issues surrounding finances , health, family life, future of children."
"To add to this the most important concern and fear still remains the same, which is death due to infection. To prevent this fear one must focus on things which are in our control like taking necessary precautionary measures which will reduce the anxiety," she adds.
To help deal with anxiety she suggests, "People with poor mental health are more likely to fall prey to infections so it's even more necessary to take care. Practising gratitude, maintaining a journal to process your thoughts, meditating, nurturing your hobbies and staying positive will definitely help. If in case you experience any panic situation then firstly seek help from people surrounding you, sit down relax take deep breaths , have water."
"Start thinking of good things , call your loved one. Get your self away from the stressful situation," she shares.
Additionally, to in situations when anxiety overtakes, she suggets its important to remove negative thoughts. "Find the root of your anxiety and chat about it with your family members or relatives. If you feel comfortable at home, stay there; if you must go out, wear a mask, sanitize your hands.," says the doctor.
"Often, if you are in a panic situation before leaving the house, do not head out alone. It raises the risk of mishaps. So, invite someone to accompany you going out. Maintain a healthy diet. Avoid eating outside; instead, carry food with you before stepping out of the house. Traveling to Red Zone areas should be avoided. Parents should avoid going out with their children. Since vaccinations is yet to become a proper standard, parents have a tendency of high stress when travelling with their children. Take all these precautionary steps to avoid excessive anxiety and tension. Having confidence and being optimistic about your life will help you get over it easily," suggests the doctor