How did people cope in the year of the pandemic? - Peddler Media -->

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How did people cope in the year of the pandemic?

How did people cope in the year of the pandemic?

Mental health counselor discusses popular coping mechanisms people adapted in 2020

Representative Image. Pic/iStock

To say 2020 has been a difficult year will be an understatement. The pandemic and lockdown wreaked havoc on physical as well as mental health. Increased levels of stress and anxiety have been reported across age groups while the lockdown effectively alienated us from our most common coping mechanisms, ranging from spending time with our loved ones to indulging in social activities such as dining or shopping.
Mental health counsellor, Arouba Kabir explained, "The lockdown instilled a sense of fear amongst us all which interfered with our emotional and physical health in numerous ways." Akin to several other issues we faced due to the global health crisis, many adapted to and found solace in new coping mechanisms. Ms. Kabir discusses coping and recounts popular coping mechanisms people turned to in 2020.

What are coping mechanisms? Can we be turning to them subconsciously?

Ms. Kabir said, “Developing a coping mechanism in simple terms means developing ways which harbour and nurture us and at the same time protect us from any external stimuli. It's a form of adaptability that helps us to cope with stressors around us.”

“Many of us subconsciously already have our coping mechanisms in place. Every time we are triggered or lost our mind follows the patterns which it feels shall keep us safe. It is important to note that coping mechanisms are individualized entities-what may feel safe to one person, may not provide peace to the other,” added Ms. Kabir.

How to identify which is a healthy coping mechanism and which isn’t?

It is up to us to make a distinction between retreating and protecting our inner selves versus overindulging. One must be wary of clinging to habits and ignoring a particular issue at hand. “Avoidance will only lead to one being triggered repeatedly and may also lead to other problems causing more damage than working as a coping mechanism meant to protect,” explained Ms. Kabir.

Below, Ms. Kabir lists some of the most popular coping mechanisms people adapted during this year.

Online exercise

With gyms and studios shut, many turned to yoga or online classes during the lockdown. “Indulging in physical activities increases the endorphin levels in the body. These are hormones similar to serotonin that help uplift mood and gives a sense of overall well-being. Physical activity also regulates adrenaline or stress hormone levels which can help calm your nerves and channelize your energy into productive things rather than taking a deconstructive route due to the emotional upheavals.

Baking or Cooking

A 2018 review article in the journal Health Education and Behavior suggested that cooking seemed to improve psychological wellbeing, and decreased agitation and anxiety in several people. Another study from New Zealand concluded that people with the most cooking skills reported a greater sense of mental wellbeing.  The fact that food is extremely comforting and has a calming effect on us makes it a shoo-in for a coping tool.


Research suggests that cluttered surroundings may lead to higher stress levels and make it hard to focus. A cluttered space is likely to be a reflection of the cluttered mind. “De-cluttering helps the person to consciously focus on a task taking the mind away from the stressors and subconsciously at the same time, removing negative energies,” said Ms. Kabir.


We all know someone who indulged in a bit of gardening. It was an excellent way to invite nature indoors and an engaging mindful activity to undertake while we were limited in our spaces. “Mindful activities such as gardening allow you to divert your mind, take a step back, rejuvenate, and at the same time release happy hormones which lift your spirits and allow you to tackle the situation with a new zeal,” explained Ms. Kabir. Studies show significant positive effects of gardening including mental wellbeing, namely, reduction in anxiety and an increase in life satisfaction and quality of life.

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