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The scenario in any country across the globe, due to COVID 19 has been catastrophic, more so in India after the Pandemic has struck. Hearing about loss of lives of close friends, relatives, social contacts became very traumatic. To lose so many close friends/family in succession to Covid-19has been devastating. I think most of us would have experienced contacting families/friends to offer sympathies over a phone call. The fear of contracting the virus on a visit, made things worse.

Millions wiped off the face of from the earth. Million more shattered by the loss of family and friends. The deceptively beautiful coronavirus came like some satanic tornado on the face of the earth, killing and destroying everything in its path. The first twelve months witnessed only destruction and death. Thanks to science and research, we are now seeing humanity scrambling up on its feet to pick up the pieces as a result of vaccinations and other safety measures put in place by the Governments across the world.

But the havoc caused at the individual level? When the way of life changed from the real to the virtual? Children lost touch with friends, teachers and classmates. Professionals worked from home and lost touch with teammates. The older generation sat glued to telephones to share their loneliness with other lonely persons. Parents met their children scattered across the globe only on Zoom and exchanged pleasantries with friends only via the internet. But even this, only the tech-savvy enjoyed these luxuries. Covid-19 succeeded in making humans into robots, punished them with loneliness and at the same time taught them to appreciate the goodness of human contact.

Shall we begin to live again

The worst victims have been children who have faced tremendous physical and psychological pressures these last 15 months. This entire experience was beyond their comprehension. It is a miracle that they have not succumbed to their fears. But the scars are bound to remain. The ordeal faced by socially and economically deprived children has been worse. They did not even have the luxury of online schooling. They are the kids of downtrodden and lower middle class whose parents became unemployed when the pandemic struck. They, unlike their affluent peers, have faced uncertainty and isolation. The fear of contracting some rare disease and dying has driven many of them into depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, parents also seem to have lost the ability to address their children’s emotional needs as they themselves are struggling to keep their families afloat.

 

According to researchers, Covid-19 may have affected the mental health of adolescent children very badly. Young adults are known to have succumbed to depression as a result of little or no social contact. Their findings reveal that excessive social isolation among children or even adults can wreak havoc on their health and wellbeing. This is particularly true of societies that lived gregariously with unreserved social interaction, like in India. The last 15 months have seen families separated, friends distanced and communication strictly confined to the phone. A doctor confided in a paper article that this has not only affected his professional life but he is now having to deal with online patients -- mostly women -- exhibiting signs of deep depression.

An interesting article in the scientific journal-‘Nature’ tells us that studies conducted on the pandemic consistently show that young people, rather than older people, are most vulnerable to increased psychological distress, perhaps because their need for social interactions is stronger. It also suggests that people with a previously diagnosed psychiatric disorder are at particularly high risk for mental-health problems like anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. These are also the same persons who are paranoid of falling sick, or becoming victims of the pandemic. Their excessive and unnecessary precautionary measures may actually be opening the door to other serious lifestyle ailments. If Covid-19 has arrived just as the Plague or Malaria or Smallpox did, it is high time we accepted it and learned to live with it.

It was interesting to note that dictated by pandemic, Twitter conversations in 2020-21 were dominated by issues linked to mental health matters, fitness and well-being. While mental health issue conversations saw 150% increase compared to 2018-19, Health & fitness talks also grew. Deep into the Indian consumer’s mind, Twitter studied millions of Tweets from January 2020 to June 2021 to compile its Trends Report 2021. Besides the top two trends within the Wellbeing umbrella, the popular hashtags used in the conversations were #selfLove, #LoveYourSelf, #GoodHealth and #MentalHealthMatters.

But the ‘Creator Culture’ also saw a huge upswing during the period. People are pursuing their passions, upskilling, inspiring each other and forming communities around shared talents and interests. It reports that there have been conversations around content creators and the emerging creator economy around spirituality and shared experiences. The Report showed people have also become increasingly conscientious about the implications of their actions on the environment.

 

Malaria has given place to dengue and chikungunya. Have we not learned to live with both without breaking into pieces? Medical science is finding ways of warding off & treating Covid-19 with appropriate drugs. What is our responsibility is to prevent its incidence by following the main precautions, like getting vaccinated, avoiding excessive contact in crowded places and observing simple hygiene in our surroundings? If we follow these simple rules, we should be able to restore a measure of normalcy into our lives and start living again without the fear haunting us. Perhaps, the secret of defeating Covid-19 is to scramble to our feet, pick up the pieces of our disturbed lives and start living again. As the well-known British author, Somerset Maugham said: “People who live in fear, don’t live. They simply exist.” So, let us make this statement ‘false’ by driving out the fear in us and live.

Inspired from an Article in a daily local by Vatsala Vedantham.

The author, V Murali Dharan is a Chief Financial Officer in a Real Estate Firm and has industry experience of over 30 years in various fields say, Direct, Indirect Taxation, Company Law, Accounting - including identifying revenue leakage, Audit and General Management & Human resources  

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