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 Table of Contents  
DEBATE/PERSPECTIVE/VIEWPOINT
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 37  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 41-44

Positive in negative…does the COVID-19 lockdown has any positive aspect too?


Department of Psychiatry, Kalpana Chawla Government Medical College, Karnal, Haryana, India

Date of Submission08-Jul-2020
Date of Decision13-Jul-2020
Date of Acceptance16-Jul-2020
Date of Web Publication31-Mar-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Ashish Aggarwal
Department of Psychiatry, Kalpana Chawla Government Medical College, Room No. 414, 4th Floor, OPD Block, Karnal - 132 001, Haryana
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijsp.ijsp_194_20

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How to cite this article:
Dua S, Aggarwal A, Pandey AK. Positive in negative…does the COVID-19 lockdown has any positive aspect too?. Indian J Soc Psychiatry 2021;37:41-4

How to cite this URL:
Dua S, Aggarwal A, Pandey AK. Positive in negative…does the COVID-19 lockdown has any positive aspect too?. Indian J Soc Psychiatry [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Jun 19];37:41-4. Available from: https://www.indjsp.org/text.asp?2021/37/1/41/312866



“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

– Marie Curie.

The novel coronavirus is claiming victims all across the globe and is creating havoc in the lives of all alike, irrespective of country, caste, religion, and socioeconomic status.[1] It has kept people sealed indoors due to the spiraling fear and mass confusion that surround it. It has shattered the lives of people, daily routines of people have been disturbed, and a huge economic crisis has occurred. However, as a glass is half empty or half full, we also need to think about any positive effects of the lockdown because of COVID-19. Because it is a condition, over which we have no control, so only worrying and thinking about the negatives would make us weak, physically, mentally, and emotionally. We the authors have tried in some way to look into the positive side of the lockdown caused by COVID-19 and share our personal experiences. The views expressed here are our personal experience during the lockdown, seeing patients post lockdown, observing common people, and what the authors gathered from the daily newspaper and other mass media reports.

This is perhaps the first time when it is said that we can save human race by lying in front of TV and doing nothing. This time made us realize the importance of time, care, respect, and many other such virtues, which constitutionally make us humans, rather than only focusing on money.

The feeling of COVID-19 lockdown reminds me of a song from the album Zenyatta Mondatta by The Police with the wordings “When the world is running down, you make the best of what's still around.” This aptly describes the state of affairs the world in going through in the COVID days.

We hereby summarize some of the positive aspects of the lockdown:


  Pollution Top


The sky seemed much clearer and bluer than before.[2] The news of people getting up in the morning and being able to see beautiful far away mountains were reported, like it was reported that people from Jalandhar were able to see the Dauladhar mountain range which is at a distance of 213 km.[3]

The air-, land-, water-, and sound-level pollution all have decreased tremendously. It is reported that the water of Holy River Ganga has become pure, and the Central Pollution Control Board has given it 27 points, declaring it suitable for bathing and propagation of wildlife and fisheries.[4] This could not be achieved despite spending billions of rupees and the Government undertaking the Ganga Action plan.

All these remind us that karma is a boomerang and whatever one does, is definitely going to be reverted back to us. The humans have been knowingly or unknowingly, deliberately or accidently, damaging the environment through global warming, deforestation, surge in plastic use, etc., etc., Nature is celebrating and enjoying the break from us too! The mother earth is in full bloom and is perhaps breathing again. All are rejuvenating, whereas humans are busy worrying about the COVID-19 pandemic!! This was the time when people realized that we have the World Bicycle Day on June 3. We could witness change in the form of use of more bicycles, though may be for recreational use rather than for important daily works, but still a drop makes an ocean. The coronavirus also teaches us that we need to respect all the wildlife and their right to live in the environment as we think of ourselves. The possible hypothesis behind the origin of this deadly COVID-19 pandemic has been the killings of different types of animals and mixing them together in cages for human consumption.


  Home and Family Relationships Top


Post lockdown, our home has no longer become a “pit stop.” Before this, our lives had become too mechanical that we rarely used our homes for purposes other than sleeping and eating and to return to our work. The lockdown has indeed made our homes a sanctuary as well as a safe zone. What reminds us of a story which we heard in childhood about a boy asking his father about his income and father saying that he earns 20 dollars a day. The child said that please give me 10 dollars. The father happily gave him and asked as to why he wanted them. The son replied that please take these 10 dollars from me and give me 2 h from your busy schedule. In the process of making money, somewhere, we have forgotten our basic needs and our children have been often neglected.

It was our common dialog that we are earning money only for you, though majority of time, what they had desired was quality time with them. The lockdown made us realize the value of spending time with our kith and kins. There has been a positive attitudinal change in people. The people's tempo is more relaxed and calm. COVID-19 times have been the times of more family bonding and increased love and affection between family members. The elders of the family have got due attention. The relationship between children and their parents/grandparents has gone a lot way forward. The children and adults alike have ample time to develop new hobbies such as painting, craft work, music, cycling, and reading books for which one had to take out time with great difficulty in the past, but now the time is freely and abundantly available. It also gave us opportunity to watch our great Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata and again children became familiar with the Indian mythology and had a fantastic opportunity of learning the ancient Indian culture.[5] Old indoor games, which our children had forgotten, were again brought back live such as various board games, carom, cards, pitho and guli danda, and gulel. This time has made us independent in the way that it made us realize that we can work without the help of domestic maids. With domestic help also needing to stay home, we find ourselves needing to do our own housework. This is a good thing for several reasons. Housework is one of the most productive ways to keep busy and not get bored. You are personally invested when you are cleaning your own home, so you do a much better job. You find things that you haven't used in a long time and can take the call to throw them out. And, you end up with a much cleaner living space. Sweeping, mopping, dusting, and cleaning cobwebs are all ways to keep active and burn extra calories.

The lockdown has also helped by increasing our attention to local communities. People are avoiding larger supermarkets in favor of the local suppliers whose shops are smaller and easier to reach. Children and adults of all ages are visible at all times of the day, making it easier to identify the social and developmental diversities of our communities


  New Opportunities Top


New business ideas such as production of PPE kits, N95 masks, face shields and sanitizers have started. India has now become an emerging producer of these products.[6] This pandemic has given boost to the made in India campaign and has promoted localization. People have also got jobs in various health-care sectors during the COVID-19 times and people have come forward for the same despite knowing the risks involved. Other things that have been made during this period include quick ventilators, instruments to detect people with fever in crowds, App to track COVID-19 symptoms, Arogya Setu App, proximity alarm that discourages oneself from touching face, etc.[7]


  Importance of Health Top


It made us realize the value of health over money. Nothing really matters when health is lacking, has been a driving force toward a healthy lifestyle. There has been an increase in the public health awareness, and people have become more receptive to what is being broadcasted and following them too.[8] People learned the concept of immunity and ways to boost it. There has been a shift toward preventive medicine. Hygiene practices have risen which would go a long way to improve our immune system and decrease the load of infectious diseases.[2] Children have learned the importance of hand washing. Since lockdown, the habit of eating outside food has also been curtailed. We learned to live on only homemade food. It has in a way helped us to improve our dietary habits. It has given knowledge that what we eat and how we behave daily determines how strong our immune system can be to enable it to fend off most problems before the use of medical intervention. Suddenly, from I don't have time for exercise, doing exercise has become a no brainer, as we have learned the importance of a fit body and a healthy mind. To keep mind healthy, various online yoga meditation courses such as from the art of living have been offered. We are now happier doing exercise with our family members, sharing good quality time, and enjoying life. It is hoped that the world would now pay attention toward the improvement of health-care system, with budget being more spent on the correct areas and the government being more forced to focus on it. Preventive medicine has now taken the front role.


  Philanthropic Works Top


Various private sector organizations have come forward and risen to a social cause and have helped the government and people in these difficult times. The pleasure and reward in such activities is also tremendous. In this crisis time, philanthropy, nonprofit, and other implementing organizations have shown that they can respond quickly, flexibly, and collaboratively.[9] Various contributions have been made to the PM Care Fund. The doctors and other paramedical staff have selflessly offered their services to the government for fighting COVID-19. Even, doctors have refused to accept the double-salary advantage that the government intended to give the health-care workers. Various local organizations/clubs have helped the government in every possible way, by donating masks, creating public awareness, donations, etc., and organizations have provided food and catered to other needs of people. The work done by TATAS, Wipro, etc., during these tough times has been commendable. This will encourage more people to go for such social charity work and will lessen the economic burden for the government too.


  Catalyst for Digital Transformation Top


Webinars:[10] These have been widely used during the lockdown and have been criticized a lot. However, this has been the greatest boon for academicians, who now can take part in academic feasts at leisure at home. One can address to the audience at ease and learn a lot. This has especially benefitted those who, due to some or the other reason, could not attend conferences in person.

Online learning classes: These have helped children to develop the habit of self-learning and motivating themselves. It has also helped them to learn at their time. Options to learn various games have also cropped up during this period such as chess, and even football and cricket online.

An altogether new concept of telemedicine, which was debated previously, has been offered during these times and various guidelines have been made to operationalize them.[11]

Work from home: The concept has increased, and it has now gone beyond the leisure type to the need of the hour.

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This is an area which is the most controversial one. Many studies have shown that the lockdown has a negative psychological impact on the people in general, more so in the vulnerable population. This is definitely true because of multiple factors operating simultaneously during the lockdown such as no work, financial crisis, and fear of the illness. It has been mentioned that mental health issues stem from normal people being exposed to extraordinary stress. However, psychologically, it is very difficult to define normalcy. It is possible that people with subtle symptoms and some personality issues have broken down in these extreme stressful situations which they would have normally escaped. Various studies have concluded that the children, pregnant females, people with a history of psychiatric disorders, and people living alone, are at higher risk for mental illnesses during this pandemic. Now the question arises: Which group is not prone?? Stress does brings out the best in many, and the reactions to stress is highly dependent on one's coping ability and the temperamental traits. The more the maladjusted one's personality is, the more is the chances of him/her being affected by the pandemic. What is more important even during the non-COVID times, is the proper assessment of the personality of the patients and the so-called “normal” to find the prevalence of maladjusted personality traits. People have realized the importance of joint families and those who probably could stay in joint families, had shifted. Nuclear families and living alone have always been a risk factor for psychiatric disorders.

When asked to some of our obsessive-compulsive disorder/obsessive-compulsive personality disorder patients, they reported that now we have not been blamed for excess hand washing and maintaining cleanliness. In fact, it has been appreciated more and other family members are now also taking care of hygiene.

Socially, crime rate has gone down.[12] Suicides had gone down especially because railways and other transport methods are not working. Alcohol use has gone down as reflected by the loss to the government of the revenue earned also. Illegal smuggling of narcotics, especially in Punjab, has decreased. Parties and various meetings where alcohol serving is common have been virtually stopped.

What might possibly be happening during these difficult times is that:

  • Hypochondriacs have just changed the name of the disease they are affected with
  • Melancholics have found the reason to be unhappy
  • Unstable personalities have put the onus of their professional as well as personal failures on COVID-19
  • Nine antisocial personalities have got another method to commit crime in the name of COVID by not following the government guidelines
  • Impulsives and compulsives have made purchasing in the name of COVID and
  • And perhaps, normal shave just stayed normal as usual.


Hence, in a nutshell, COVID has just helped previously affected people to approach mental health facilities.

For some people, the lockdown might give the time to explore and coming to terms with their thoughts. This has similarities to meditation and yoga where people often practice nonattachment, by reflecting on the impermanency and malleability of thought. If the lockdown allows us more time to reflect on our thoughts, can we use this opportunity to help us to cope with stress and develop our competences in mindfulness?

A further potential impact of the lockdown has been more time for consciously developing our purpose in life. Having distance from work or school can help us step back and evaluate the interests, beliefs, and values that we craft into our overall sense of meaning. Experts in motivation tell us that our interests can be triggered by everyday events and activities, and that we can build these interests across time. With time, these interests can develop into passions. Finding a passion, something that we desire and are committed to, is a possibility for everyone. Living in a way that actualizes our passions, also known as building and living our calling, can protect us against mental illness and trauma. It can energize us and give us hope.

To summarize, to create a balanced and broader discussion, we need to ask: Can the lockdown have a positive impact on our mental health? Is there something good that can come of being in the lockdown, where we are all in the same boat? Could it be that the lockdown is creating space for us to reflect on ourselves and our lives in a way that can promote our psychological well-being? Furthermore, can we live physically, emotionally, and socially healthier lives during the lockdown?

This article is not meant to devalue or ignore their experiences of being ill, losing loved ones, or being without employment. However, it is important that we present a balanced view of mental health during the lockdown. Although the ideas presented in this article might not be a reality for everyone, it is also possible that some people might emerge from the lockdown mentally healthier than before, due to a combination of their personal circumstances, luck, and self-directed management of their mental health and well-being.

After the lockdown is over, having less time to communicate with family, more distance from local neighborhoods and communities, a tighter schedule with less flexibility for exercise and fewer hours for reflection, re-exposure to greater levels of pollution, and for some, a return to daily relational conflicts at work, could be key reasons why some people might think back on COVID-19 as being a positive pandemic, as well as a deadly one. Perhaps, adapting back to the “new normal” at the end of the lockdown could be our biggest challenge. For the first time in our lifetime, we have had a taste of the benefits of discipline. What good is it, if we forget those lessons post lockdown?

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
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2.
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3.
People in Jalandhar Shocked to See Views of Dhauladhar Range for the First Time; April 3, 2020. Available from: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/travel/destinations/covid-19-impact-people-in-jalandhar-shocked-to-see-views-of-dhauladhar-range-for-the-first-time/as74970585.cms. [Last accessed on 2020 Jul 10].  Back to cited text no. 3
    
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