Psychological Impact of quarantine and lockdown

Yaseen Hamid

Currently an estimated 2.6 billion people – one-third of the world’s population is living under some kind of lockdown or quarantine. This is arguably the largest psychological experiment ever conducted. Unfortunately we already have a good idea of its results. In late February 2020 right before European countries mandated various forms of lockdowns, The Lancet published a review of 24 studies documenting the psychological impact of quarantine (the “restriction of movement of people who have potentially been exposed to a contagious disease”). The findings offer a glimpse of what is brewing in hundreds of millions of households around the world. In short, and perhaps unsurprisingly, people who are quarantined are very likely to develop a wide range of symptoms of psychological stress and disorder, including low mood, insomnia, stress, anxiety, anger, irritability, emotional exhaustion, depression and post-traumatic stress symptoms. Reasons for stress in lockdown are, there is risk of infection, fear of becoming sick or of losing some loved ones, as well as the possibility of financial hardship. This will result in a secondary epidemic of mental health in the latter half of 2020.
Role of Physical education (exercises, yoga & recreational activities) Physical exercises: Physical exercise is an essential component of improving both physical and mental health and regular exercise has been linked to changes in brain connectivity and increases in brain growth factors (e.g. brain-derived neurotrophic factor) and decreases in oxidative stress which damages cells and tissue.Aerobic exercises, including jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, gardening, and dancing, have been proved to reduce anxiety and depression. These improvements in mood are proposed to be caused by exercise-induced increase in blood circulation to the brain and by an influence on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function. Exercise releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood. It can also get you out in the world, help to reduce any feelings of loneliness and isolation, and put you in touch with other people. If you exercise regularly, it can reduce your stress and symptoms of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety and help with recovery from mental health issues. It can also improve your sleep, which is important in many different ways. Exercise pumps blood to the brain, which can help you to think more clearly. It increases the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory.
Although there are various benefits of recreational activities as well but as we have to maintain physical distancing, so it’s recommended to have them post lockdown
YOGA: Yoga’s positive benefits on mental health have made it an important practice tool of psychotherapy (American Psychological Association). It has been shown to enhance social wellbeing through a sense of belonging to others and improve the symptoms of depression, attention deficit and hyperactivity, and sleep disorders. Also, yoga has been shown to increase the level ofgamma-amino butyric acid or GABA, a chemical in the brain that helps to regulate nerve activity. This is especially relevant to people who have anxiety disorders in which GABA activity is low. One of the best benefits of yoga is that it calms the body through various poses. While releasing tension in the hips, back, and shoulders, messages are sent to the brain that it’s okay to relax. This reduces levels of cortisol, bringing them back to a natural state of balance. The nervous system becomes relaxed so you experience greater clarity and focus. Deep belly breathing really helps clear the mind and can help reduce the mental chatter that causes rumination. Yoga increases body awareness, relieves stress, reduces muscle tension, strain, and inflammation, sharpens attention, concentration and calms the nervous system.
RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES:-Mental wellness is critical to overall physical health. Participating in recreational activities helps manage stress. Taking time to nurture self provides a sense of balance and self-esteem, which can directly reduce anxiety and depression. Although there are various benefits of recreational activities as well but as we have to maintain physical distancing, so it’s recommended to have them post lockdown. Look after your physical wellbeing and try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water, exercise inside if possible and outside once a day (keeping the recommended 2 metres from others or as outlined in the social distancing guidance).-people should understand that all these psychological reactions (stress, anxiety, depression) are normal in the context of pandemic or quarantined (restriction of movements).The physical education gives the mental strength to adapt the situation and to overcome the toxic effects of quarantine and lockdown.
(The author is a student at Central University Kashmir. Views are his own [email protected])

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