Conquering COVID-19 through Collaboration

coronavirus 2021

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Rabia Riasat, currently enrolled in Army Medical College, Pakistan in the penultimate year of her medical education. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


The coronavirus pandemic rages on relentlessly and only two things seem to be moving forward, the SARS-CoV-2 virus itself and the forever unyielding time. As life comes to a standstill in the Anthropocene world, homo sapiens have come to a point in their temporal range where their continuous drive for survival cannot find an outlet. The human brain is hardwired to plan and imagine a future because it is one of the species’ cognitive imperatives for survival. However, when a global pandemic strikes where no one knows what happens next, this sudden obliteration of expectation of a next normal day is what sends our brains into cognitive overdrive.

According to the American Psychiatric Association over one-third Americans have reported mental health complaints ever since the pandemic fastened USA [1]. Similar results have been reported across the globe.  Mental health challenges faced include depression, anxiety, PTSD and OCD. The reasons for the distress though manifold, have a universal basis in fear and uncertainty.

The question arises, how to combat this? Many trusted organizations including the WHO have published various techniques to help counter these challenges. All the guidelines have the same underlying strategies:

  1. Acceptance of the new normal
  2. Establishing a daily schedule to help gain structure
  3. Exercising, bathing and reducing news consumption
  4. Maintaining communication with family/friends
  5. Seeking professional help if health worsens

Many people forego these guidelines because of the colossal first task of acceptance, others deem them too generic. Whilst the objections have a solid basis it must be impressed to personalise these guidelines.

We are almost 3-4 months into this pandemic, by now some people might have accepted this new normal, others might not have, and others still, may have become numb to its presence. Acceptance takes time, allow yourself that. If your productivity is low, it is alright, pandemics do not happen all the time. It is a one in a hundred years event, give yourself some leeway.

However, try to be proactive. Every day try to achieve small tasks and eventually progress to bigger ones. Set achievable goals for the day and make a checklist hardcopy so that crossing out things will give you a sense of accomplishment. A better way to ensure your adherence to these tasks is to create a group of individuals under similar circumstances to yourself from whom you do not hesitate sharing. Group members will ensure that everyone has achieved their goals of the day and will also extend financial or emotional support if anyone seems to be in need. The effects will be twofold:

  1.  there will be a sense of accountability motivating us to work,
  2.  strengthening of community bonds

Humanity has always achieved excellence whenever it has collaborated, and this collaboration in the form of these support groups is necessary for overcoming the emotional tumult of COVID-19.

It is not in anyone’s interest to grieve a future missed or one whose happenstance is questionable. All things end, and so will this pandemic.

References

https://www.psychiatry.org/newsroom/news-releases/new-poll-covid-19-impacting-mental-well-being-americans-feeling-anxious-especially-for-loved-ones-older-adults-are-less-anxious

About the author

Rabia Riasat is currently enrolled in Army Medical College, Pakistan in the penultimate year of her medical education. She is the Vice President Internal affairs of IFMSA Pakistan Army Medical College Local Council. She has been the sub-editor of the biannual college magazine and the student editor of their alumni newsletter. Other than writing she has employed her energies in debating, research work, volunteerism, data sciences and advocacy for public health with a special focus on changing cultural and national paradigms. She hopes to continue her medical career in the same vein of promulgation of societal and scientific progress.

 

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