The Effects of Social Distancing and Isolation

How Social Distancing Can Impact Your Mental Health

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social distancing
Mental health of many people, especially extroverts has been affected due to social distancing. Pixabay

By Dora Mekouar

Social distancing and isolation can be hard, as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently pointed out during a daily briefing on the status of COVID-19 in his state.

“Don’t underestimate the personal trauma, and don’t underestimate the pain of isolation. It is real,” Cuomo said. “This is not the human condition — not to be comforted, not to be close, to be afraid and you can’t hug someone. … This is all unnatural and disorienting.”  

social distancing
Playground equipment is wrapped in crime scene tape to prevent its use as part of the effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. VOA

Experts already know that years of loneliness or feelings of isolation can lead to anxiety, depression and dementia in adults. A weakened immune system response, higher rates of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and a shorter life span can also result.

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Children who have fewer friends or are bullied or isolated at school tend to have higher rates of anxiety, depression and some developmental delays.

But when it comes to a global pandemic like COVID-19, there is no documentation to which medical experts can refer.

social distancing
A man walks past a sign advistng social distancing at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco. VOA

“The studies that we have are more about forced isolation and no support,” said Elena Mikalsen, chief of the Psychology Section at Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. “The situation we’re in now, there’s a lot of social support … and social support is one of the big predictors of good health and mental health outcomes.” 

She adds that it is helpful that the entire world is basically in the same situation, a commonality that is leading to the rapid development of coping strategies from multiple sources, including friends, schools and businesses.

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During this period, Mikalsen is advising her patients to stay connected with people,  exercise regularly, and keep to a schedule so that everybody in the household has some sort of purpose in their day. Waiting around and worrying about getting sick can lead to increased anxiety.

A key factor driving people’s decisions on whether to isolate could come down to personality.

social distancing
A Pittsburgh Public Works employee removes a basketball rim from a court on the Northside of Pittsburgh, Monday, March 30, 2020. The rims were removed because people were not following social distancing rules while using the courts over the weekend. VOA

“Extroverts have this strong need to always be around other people. … The idea of being in a quiet place with no entertainment is extremely anxiety provoking,”  Mikalsen said. 

“Versus, you know, an introvert is perfectly happy in a tiny little room with nothing. You can lock up an introvert in a New York City apartment and have them not come out for two months and they’ll be perfectly happy.”

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Meanwhile, Cuomo told reporters that he is focusing on the positives in the current situation, like having his grown daughter, Cara, 25, working with him during the crisis.

“They’ll come for the holidays. They’ll come when I give them heavy guilt,” he said of his three grown daughters. “But I’m now going to be with Cara, literally, for a few months. What a beautiful gift that is, right? I would have never had that chance, and that is precious. … This crazy situation, as crazy as it is, gave me this beautiful gift.”  (VOA)

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61% Indian Business Leaders Fear Cybercrime Risk During Covid-19

61% of Indian business owners think their business may experience cybercrime during Covid-19

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cybercrime
SMBs believe that cybercrime is more likely to occur during Covid-19 situation than before. Pixabay

About 61 per cent of Indian business leaders and decision-makers think their business is more likely to experience a serious cybercrime during the Covid-19 situation as opposed to 45 per cent globally, said a survey on Tuesday.

About a third of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) believe that cybecrime is more likely to occur during Covid-19 situation than before, showed the study by US-based cybersecurity company CrowdStrike.

From February to March alone, CrowdStrike found that there was a 100x increase in Covid-19 themed malicious files.

Interestingly 62 per cent of Indian businesses surveyed, the highest among all the countries surveyed, provided additional training for their staff to learn how to avoid threats and Cybercrime while working from home.

The “CrowdStrike Work Security Index” surveyed 4,048 senior decision-makers in India, Australia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Netherlands, Singapore, and the U.S across major industry sectors.

cybercrime
62 per cent of Indian businesses surveyed provided additional training for their staff to learn how to avoid threats while working from home. Pixabay

The survey looked into the attitudes and behaviours towards cybersecurity during the Covid-19 situation.

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It included responses from 526 Indian decision-makers across small, medium and large business enterprises.

The survey revealed that a large majority of respondents around the globe are now working remotely, with more than half of them working remotely directly as a result of the pandemic.

This, in turn has given rise to the use of personal devices, including laptops and mobile devices, for work purposes, with 60 per cent of respondents reporting that they are using personal devices to complete work — with countries like Singapore and India even reaching 70 per cent or higher in personal device usage. (IANS)

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Dealing with Work-From-Home in a Long-Term Remote Setup

Employees working remotely are facing an array of negative emotions such as lack of motivation, sense of isolation, and disconnect from the 'professional space'

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Work
Work from home appeared like a short break from the regular routine for office-goers has now become a way of life, instead. Pixabay

BY SIDDHI JAIN

In the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak a few months ago, working from home was the only resort for many. What appeared like a short break from the regular routine for office-goers has now become a way of life, instead. This is not without challenges for both the employees as well as employers.

Employees working remotely are facing an array of negative emotions such as lack of motivation, sense of isolation and disconnect from the ‘professional space’. The employers, on the other hand are facing another set of problems like losing track of employees’ performance, cumulative financial losses and anxiety of an uncertain future.

As the WFH trend continues to be the top choice of work, with significant proportions of the workforce doubling their homes as offices, employers must consider this time as an opportunity to create a happier and more productive workforce. Here’s advice from Dr. Ishita Mukerji, a senior psychologist at mental wellness centre Kaleidoscope, to help one successfully adapt to the new norms of work.

Plan your day in advance

This practice can surely reward a person in many ways. It will save your mind from the exhaustion to think about what to do next when it is pre-decided. Such a work routine can also enable you to multitask and can achieve more by planning it smartly. One of the best ways to stay motivated is to stick to a schedule as it makes a person more productive. Remember to wake up at the same time, take a bath and wear fresh clothes every day at the same time. This will instill the required sense of confidence and freshness within you to get through the day with ease.

Set up daily goals

It always helps when we have a roadmap for how the day should look and know our top priorities. It gets easier to schedule our time and attention around making sure that our work is focused on accomplishing the listed goals. This way, you can begin each morning ready to tackle those tasks. Moreover, you are less likely to be distracted by other priorities if you have absolute clarity about which task needs how much attention during the day.

Work from home
Create the right atmosphere, away from distractions for work from home office. Pixabay

Create a dedicated work space

It is advised to have a designated place for work at home, to create the right atmosphere, away from distractions. You must have a desk or table chair combo that is solely dedicated to you for performing your job. Try eliminating any unnecessary clutter as the professional place should be clean, organized and well lit. Work environment has a direct impact on the quality and efficiency of your work, thus avoid couches and beds as they tend to encourage laziness.

Take regular breaks

It is important to break in between your tasks during the day, as it helps in boosting productivity. Overloading oneself with work can wear you down, putting you at the risk of making mistakes/blunders at work. If you do not allow yourself time to rest and recuperate, you may experience a burnout by the evening. Ensure taking proper tea breaks and lunch breaks and minimise screen time in breaks. Doing this will make you feel rejuvenated when you return to your work desk and you’ll be able to tackle the rest of the day more effectively.

Reward yourself for each task completed

Let the breaks that you take act as a reward for yourself. It can be as simple as deciding to treat yourself with a chocolate or a cup of your favorite coffee on the completion of top two tasks. Allow yourself to surf social media for 15-20 minutes after finishing the next two jobs. Challenge yourself to complete planned tasks before time and use that earned extra time to indulge in some entertainment activities. This will further boost your morale to keep going and make you ready for the next task.

Stay in touch with your colleagues

You must keep in touch with your co-workers via messages and various other voice and video calling applications available online. It is imperative that everyone stays connected and informed without losing cohesiveness.

Working from home
Employees working remotely are facing an array of negative emotions such as lack of motivation. Pixabay

Sleep away your worries

Look after your physical and mental well-being by ensuring that you get the right amount of sleep. Your body and mind will be most productive when it gets a minimum of 8 hours of sleep. Incorporate some sort of physical workout like yoga or aerobics or anything that can be easily done while at home. These activities will help you beat away the lethargy and increase your energy levels that eventually lets you do more and achieve more.

Invest in your personal growth

You must actively involve and engage yourself in various participatory sessions available online. There are a number of webinars being organised that you can register and attend depending on your interest areas. One can also listen to podcasts, spend time in developing a new skill, learn a foreign language and explore new avenues suiting your hobbies/personality.

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Though the current times are stressful and no one has a definite answer as to when everything will go back to the way it was, the least we can do is keep ourselves and our colleagues positive and engaged. It is also advised to set aside 15-30 minutes a day as �me-time’, as it can have a positive effect on one’s mood and motivation. Let us also continue to encourage each other to remain calm, strong and focussed while dealing with daily work pressures. (IANS)

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Here’s how we Overlook the Sufferings of Migrant Workers in India

The death toll of migrant workers is increasing everyday

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India
Migrant Workers in India are stranded thousands of miles away from their families and homes. WIkimedia Commons

By Muskan Bhatnagar

India is going through a situation of crisis from all aspects. From the virus to national border tension, from financial losses to rising death tolls. Not only India, but the whole world is in a state of emergency. The crisis is so huge that we tend to forget the problems on the grass-root level. While the world is busy fighting Coronavirus, protesting against injustice, grieving the deaths of celebrities, let’s take a look at the migrant workers in India who’ve been battling the pandemic in an altogether different way.

It has been over six months since the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus. The first case in India was confirmed on 30 January. Since then, the nation has seen a constant rise in the number of cases as well as death tolls. The imposition of lockdown had put the privileged in their homes while the migrant workers had much more to worry about. No money, no savings, no shelter, and no resources to get back to their homes.

Even if we try our best, we’ll still fail to understand or feel the pain and suffering they have been put through. There are thousands of such workers across the nation who were forced to walk hundreds of miles to their native place with their families and kids, as there was no transportation available due to the lockdown which was imposed in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

Their story isn’t over yet. A recent report suggests that 198 migrant workers were killed during 1,461 accidents which took place over the course of the nationwide lockdown – from March 25 to May 31. The accidents killed at least 750 people, including 198 migrant workers. Migrant workers who were putting all their efforts to go back home comprise 26.4% of the overall deaths during the lockdown caused due to road accidents.

Not just road accidents, but migrant workers have also lost their lives due to starvation and heat sickness. Image walking thousands of miles the hot weather conditions of the summer season, with mercury shooting to 45 degrees Celsius, carrying all your belongings amid an ongoing global pandemic. What worse could you happen to them?

Migrant workers across India have lost their lives due to various causes. Pixabay

Last month a train in Maharashtra ran over 16 migrant workers who were sleeping on the tracks. The workers were walking to Bhusawal from Jalna to board a “Shramik Special” train to return to Madhya Pradesh amid lockdown. 14 of the 20 died on the spot and 2 lost their lives in hospital. The accident took place when they decided to take rest and sleep on the railway lines.

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If you start reading and researching more about the stories of migrant workers in India, you will come across incidents that will break your heart and move you to tears. Women, children, joint families, elderly, everyone has to suffer and starve on the roads during this global emergency.

Rather than discussing and grieving the losses in India, the attention is put to other worldwide issues, easily overlooking the problems of our people. Why do we mourn the loss of a celebrity so much? A simple answer will be because they were legends in their field. That’s right. But we feel devasted because they die, and not because they were legends. It is a matter of loss of life. Similarly, when such a huge amount of people die on the streets, we tend to overlook. In both cases, someone dies.

The migrant workers in India are losing their lives every day, and it’s probably just a news piece for us all.