Maintaining emotional balance during a pandemic
  • 11 Apr - 17 Apr, 2020
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Spotlight

History is writing this pandemic as a global event that brought our fast-paced, strongly-connected and capitalist world to a halt. In a world where the shortest of commutes now poses as a health hazard, it is becoming increasingly difficult to comprehend our new reality and worse, how to cope with it. Social media takes over as the epicenter of all conversation, and many concerned and affected individuals have come out to say and I quote, ‘they’re losing it.’

In quarantine

The number of infections as on 5th April lies north of 1.2 million globally and over 68,000 deaths. The numbers in Pakistan have been lower than most countries but nonetheless, we are quarantined, shut down and life, as a whole, seems like it has come to a pause. Some of us have too much time to fill with thoughts. Our TVs blare at high volume; updates of rapidly rising graphs of infections followed by stock markets crashes make our news bulletin. We sit here, nerve-wrecked, with an urgency to wash our hands and the ever-existing, never-shutting-up noise in our heads of the economic crisis we are plunging in.

It was becoming increasingly difficult to work at the office until lockdown; paranoia shadowed everyday life. You could almost see the germs on surfaces and resorted to overusing sanitiser, the sharp stench of the rubbing alcohol lingered. As civilians – not in decision-making and only with precaution-taking power – the weight of rising fears, foreseeable economic crisis and inaccessibility to ‘normal,’ mental stability is in jeopardy. MAG speaks to Hajirah Tariq, a certified therapist on our expert team, about how to cope with this unprecedented crisis.

Mental health

“Such uncertain and ever changing scenarios are causing extreme stress and panic worldwide. This is an emergency and has to be dealt with like one,” Tariq starts. What’s daunting is that it is global and there is no safe place to hide, except our homes. “It is crucial to remember that we are all in this together and will be able to get past this difficult time eventually. Processing things with logic, facts and figures is the only right approach when it is a matter of life and death.”

How to cope

You may be too traumatised to work or ‘make the best of this quarantine.’ It is 100 per cent okay to not be okay during a pandemic that has pushed the entire world to shut down. In addition to getting rid of the inhibitions to be hyper-productive, Tariq advices, “stay in your head rather than heart. Take guidance from facts rather than focusing on anxious thoughts and worries. Advice in such times of medical emergency differs from the one given under normal circumstances.”

Finding time for family had become difficult in our overworked days. Schedule-less, we can take a positive outlook to this and spend more time with our families, maybe ‘do nothing’ together. “Stay emotionally connected with your loved ones online as it’s important to eliminate the feelings of Isolation.”


What you don’t know, cannot haunt you. If the rising numbers on the screen are gripping you tighter with fear, then you should turn off the news. “Avoid reading posts about the dreadful scenarios of the outbreak as it will only increase a sense of panic and anxiety within you. Stay in the here and now. Take each day as it comes. This phase won’t be permanent and will hopefully pass soon. Don’t worry about the travel plans and weddings that have been cancelled during this time. They can wait. Nothing is more important than human life.”

You and others

There may be mounting pressure from social media to take this time to do an online course but cannot manage time from office work load, you can always opt for things that are soothing and don’t come with a credential certificate. “Use spare time at home for constructive and positive purposes such as cooking, baking and gardening etc. Stay relaxed by practicing meditation and mindfulness exercises.” But do not forget those less privilege, practicing being humane has its own beauty in soothing a troubled state of mind. “Be compassionate and helpful towards people who are suffering because of sickness and poverty. Helping others will boost your spirits and give you a sense of much needed joy,” Tariq says.


In the same world which feels stopped, we are Instagramming Live with our favourite artists as they keep us entertained, we are on a meme-sharing spree to cope with humour and we are promoting colouring as therapy to cope with anxiety.

It’s unprecedented, these times, but it’s enriched with a renewed sense of humanity and its solidarity. Because no matter how dark the times, the most important thing to tell ourselves right now, is that this too shall pass. “And remember, it is better to be home than to be hospitalised,” Tariq reiterates.