coronavirus

Grief and Bereavement: Coping with the loss of a loved one

The global pandemic has had a significant impact on everyone’s life. During this pandemic, many people have lost their loved one. Not connecting with the deceased before and after their death has potentially increased the risk of complicated grief. 

What are Grief and Bereavement? 

Bereavement is the situation of having lost a loved one. Grief is the natural reaction to loss. Grief reactions range from normal to diagnosable psychiatric conditions; people adapt to the loss and accompanying life changes. 

Social distancing has impacted the usual form of religious and cultural aspects of the grieving process. “Physical distancing” has invariably resulted in “social distancing”; the isolation and quarantine result in “touch starvation.” 

Signs & symptoms of grief:

  • Shock, disbelief, or denial
  • Anxiety
  • Distress
  • Anger
  • Periods of sadness
  • Loss of sleep and loss of appetite

Tips for coping with grief and bereavement: 

Communicate: Talk to people, expressing how you feel is a healing activity. Find ways to express your grief through communication. Join an online bereavement support group. Conduct a ritual with your friends and family to share happy memories about the deceased. 

Heal At Your Own Pace: Healing is not linear. Each one heals at their own pace, never compare yourself to another grieving.

Space: A space or specific area for grieving may help in the easier expression of emotions without hesitation and facilitate healthier acceptance of death.

Journalling: Penning your thoughts down can help you understand your feelings better.

Exercise: Physical exercise along with relaxation will improve your sleep and concentration.

Spend time with others: Allow yourself to have moments of happiness or escape, spend time with others. Resist the temptation to isolate yourself.

Stay healthy: Get plenty of rest and eat regular and healthy meals.

Pandemic and Your Changing Relationship with Food

The announcement of lockdown by the government due to the virus in India has bought significant changes in the lifestyle of the people, whether it’s work from home, the limited number of groceries, little or no socializing. The pandemic has affected not only the physical but also the mental health of the people.

Stress: The responsibility of providing food on the table during the pandemic and maintaining or losing jobs, health concerns, and financial problems can cause stress. The effect caused by the stress hormone cortisol, emitted during times of distress, also plays a role in weight gain.

Work from home: Apart from essential workers, most of the work is being done online, which includes work from home. Even the students in metros have online classes. Due to the conferment at home, there is an increased level of stress in the working-age population. To reduce mental stress, most of them are indulging in “stress eating”. There is a decrease in the mental health of people due to the monotonous lifestyle.  

Binge-watching: A person with anxiety or depression may binge-watch more to avoid socialization, leading to ‘binge eating’ to find relief. 

Quality of diet: Due to the limited number of groceries, people are consuming more packed food and show a lack of interest in preparing healthy meals, leading to an increase in unhealthy eating habits. The fear of food stocks running out due to lockdown can decrease the quality of fresh food and affect the diet quality.

Lack of physical health: Restrictions on gym and gardens due to lack of social distancing can lead to more time indoors and laziness. This leads to increased blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and bone problems.

Sleeping patterns: Change in sleeping patterns due to lack of physical exercise, stress, overthinking can lead to sleep disorders like getting nightmares and the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep.

Psychiatric disorders: Psychiatric disorders such as depression, attention deficit disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder can lead to weight gain owing to ‘comfort eating.’

Here are some tips for losing weight:

Reducing stress: Changes in eating patterns can lead to craving and high-calorie food. Intake of high-calorie food can lead to obesity.

Home Workouts: Attending online home workout sessions can make a person feel involved and connected to overcome isolation and depression; it improves physical health.

Diet: Including more fruits and vegetables in the diet daily can decrease the risk of overeating.

Eating plenty of fibre: Increasing the intake of fibre in the diet can help lose weight.

Routine: maintaining a healthy routine can help in avoiding overeating and stress.

Limiting screen timing: Taking a break from the mobiles and laptop can reduce the stress on the eyes and can get some time to focus on health.

How has learning changed during the pandemic?

Introduction:

Did you know that the pandemic breakout has led to over 1.2 billion children, in 186 countries to be out of school? According to UNESCO, in India alone, the closure of educational institutions has affected almost 32 crore students. 

The closing of schools and educational institution has forced the academic field to look for solutions through e-learning, through digital platforms. 

We have now reached a point where we wonder if this online learning will continue post-pandemic too.

According to BARC India, there has been a 30% increase in the time spent on educational apps.

What is e-learning? 

In India and other countries, the classroom has now become virtual, since the pandemic breakout. Schools are now dependent on conferencing apps like Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and Zoom, for conducting the classes and on WhatsApp for sharing assignment and school circulars.

This has led to a sudden boom in business for many online learning platforms, who sometimes offer free access to their services too. Though the pandemic has changed the schools from chalk-board to technology-driven models, this can never replace the real-life classroom experiences that students are missing, like, peer learning, extra-curricular activities, sports, emotional development and leadership qualities. 

Can everyone afford e-learning? 

Private schools have been able to move to e-learning solutions easily, in comparison to the government schools, which are facing the challenges due to sudden closure.

Many low-income families had to make ends meet to afford the smartphones or laptops for the children, which would otherwise create a gap in the students learning. Many are still not able to afford the same. In many cases, one phone or laptop is shared between the members, hence the access to e-learning is further restricted. 

Accesses to sustained electricity is another problem faced by the schools and the students in many parts of the country. 

Parents are also finding it challenging to be able to work from home, continue with the household duties and sit with children during online classes, especially the younger ones.

The positive aspect of this situation is that schools are now able to reach the remotest location and hence led to effective learning and teaching.

E-learning for all – 

Many states and districts, where the reach of technology has been a challenge, have adapted to innovative methods to help the delivery of education. A few examples would be –

  • Some of the state governments have joined hands with Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR) to broadcast the classes through regional channels, which is being an excellent help for rural students and visually impaired students too. 
  • Chhattisgarh government has joined hands with UNICEF and launched a ‘SAJAG’ program, where they train the Anganwadis and volunteers as support for children’s education at home.
  • Odisha government has launched ‘Ghare Ghare Arunima’ program, wherein, a set theme for the month, with the materials, are sent to Anganwadi workers, who reach out to the parents to engage children with activity-based learning. 
  • In some districts in Jharkhand and Haryana, teachers have resorted to using loudspeakers to conduct classes for students with no internet access. 
  • Some teachers are also using YouTube as a platform for taking classes so that students can view them when they have internet access.

Many of the educational portals are giving unlimited offers to teachers and students for better editing of projects, smart calendars, auto-translation features and other tools, to make learning convenient and accessible for a long time.

Students are seen enrolling for newer courses online, as they don’t need to travel, making it convenient to learn more in the available time.

Teachers are making the best of their creativity and taking up every challenge to make sure the learning doesn’t stop, even though many have are faced with financial dip, due to decreased or unpaid salaries.

Conclusion – 

Government of India under the program e-vidya has launched 12 new TV channels (K-12)* and use of radio for students with no access to high-speed internet. 

The market for online educational platforms is expected to see an increase of 6.3 times, equating to almost 1.7 billion USD.

E-learning platforms on the internet are offering multiple courses, free online content and assessment parameters to enhance the learning experience. 

Teachers will also have to update themselves on various tools and techniques to teach in an online classroom.

*Reference:

How is the pandemic affecting children?

As we are constantly bombarded with news about COVID-19 and its spread, we experience a lot of anxiety and stress. Children face similar anxiety and stress, too.

Detecting physical symptoms of COVID is simpler than knowing about its effect on our mental health. This applies particularly to children, as all their regular physical activities have suddenly come to a stop. Schools and daycares have been closed; children can neither visit the park/play areas nor can they meet their friends in person. This can lead them to experience anxiety and stress.

Detecting physical symptoms of COVID is simpler than knowing about its effect on our mental health. This applies particularly to children, as all their regular physical activities have suddenly come to a stop. Schools and daycares have been closed; children can neither visit the park/play areas nor can they meet their friends in person. This can lead them to experience anxiety and stress.

It is hard for children to understand why their parents are stressed. Also, with easy access to digital gadgets; children can now gain a lot of information online and have a lot of queries about the pandemic.

Parents play a critical role during this phase, as children will be curious and ask more questions. They will also need clarification from their parents on specific issues. Hence, parents need to prepare their child emotionally for social distancing and isolation during the pandemic.

Psycho-education of parents and caregivers is crucial, as, during these difficult times, parents are the child’s biggest support.

There are certain things that parents can do to get the child to understand the situation, like:

  1. Reassuring them that this is a temporary phase.
  2. Give the children much-needed attention, especially when they feel like talking or have some query.
  3. Look out for emotional changes in the child and have regular conversations with them.
  4. Pre-plan the daily activities with the child, keep a fixed routine for schoolwork, playtime and recreational activities.
  5. Keep them in touch with their friends, grandparents and their loved ones through video calls and phone calls.
  6. Keep a check on their screen time on the devices.
  7. Try to keep them engaged in physical activities.
  8. Most importantly, take good care of their health and wellness. Develop a habit of self-hygiene in a fun way.

If the child is already in an abusive environment, the isolation during a pandemic can further deepen their mental health crisis. Childcare helplines have seen a huge spike in the calls regarding the health, nutrition, child abuse reports and medical assistance.

To reach out, you can write to Mind Mosaic at contact@mindmosaic.in and we will connect you with the concerned authorities and helplines.

Stay safe. Maintain social distancing.