We are currently living in a climate of political, economic and medical uncertainty that has brought to the fore serious mental issues for many. These issues may have been inherently present beforehand but have grown during this crisis and are likely to get worse with a prolonged period of confinement.
Cases of panic attacks, depressive episodes, delusional beliefs or a collective psychosis of doom with irrational behaviour have greatly increased. And for many, our current situation is being perceived through the distorted and magnified lens of despair brought about by Covid-19.
Subsequently, this has led to increased paranoia and isolation, reinforced by our necessary confinement, social distancing and avoidance of human contact.
On the positive side, amidst the chaos and sense of impending doom, we have seen a new wave of friendship and solidarity, which has brought a renewed sense of hope and belief in humankind. During such times, spirituality can be part of an approach to help improve people’s self-esteem and sense of well-being.
There is often a misconception between religion and spirituality. Religion is a set of beliefs shared among a group of individuals that lead to a similar course of actions, such as praying in a similar fashion. SPIRITUALITY, while often intertwined with religion, is a concept that deals with the belief that our life and being is more of connectedness with oneself, with our soul, with others, with the environment or with a higher power. It negates the one-sided beliefs that often lead to misconceptions, arguments, conflicts or even wars associated with religion.
When we improve our spiritual wellness we are more likely to be at peace with our inner self and with others. This connectedness with others and nature is reflected in our compassion, sharing, gratitude and caring. Enhancing our spirituality, increases our motivation and purpose to live. As we see with this crisis, it is possible to shift from a materialistic life to one with enhanced respect for nature and humanity. We can regenerate ourselves into better human beings.
MINDFULNESS is the notion of paying attention to the present moment. It is the technique of developing a Teflon mind: allowing and understanding ideas to pass through one’s mind but detaching emotions from it. And in this age of social connectivity, where talk about the virus and its devastating implications is being forced upon us from all sides, a sense of paranoia has been implanted into our minds, reinforcing negative thoughts and the sense of impending doom.
This leads to an increase in cases of anxiety and depression and a decline in mental health as a whole. Mindfulness appears to be one technique that can help us navigate through this influx of mostly negative information.
By enhancing our spirituality and developing mindfulness, we can become more resilient in combatting the negativity around us. We will be more able to streamline the information reaching our brain, selecting what will and won’t affect us, thus increasing our resistance to mental health disorders—in short, increasing our RESILIENCE.
I believe in positivity and in the notion that we, as human beings, have the capacity to expand our spirituality, harmonize mindfulness and thus become more resilient.
Dr Roojee Shawkat