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In nature’s lap

editorial 7

As more and more people are heading towards the scenic spots in Kashmir especially those bedecked in mountains, one may attribute the same to the rising temperature or just sheer mood for some adventure and fun. However, the increasing number of trekkers and picnickers is a sign of how people are fed up with months and months of lockdown and the unprecedented situation this pandemic has created. For the last three years, everyone is staying home, thousands are locked up and forced to stay indoors. While the same was important to keep the infection at bay, it did mess up our normal lives. The lockdown worsened our existing sedentary lifestyle. Not just children, elders too felt the ill-effects of staying home as our social and psychological lives were deeply impacted by one: the threat of sickness and death, and two: the continuous lockdown. It is these two factors that are primarily pushing people to explore new scenic spots and spend some time in the mountains. Beating lockdown blues, many local groups are embarking on trekking expeditions across the valley. Currently, a large number of hikers can be seen trekking in the woods. For the last few weeks, many groups scaled mighty Mahadev, trekked from Tosa Maidan to Yusmarg and the great lakes. Many local groups are embarking on trekking expeditions to feel relieved and refreshed. With ease in the restrictions and no mandatory permission for treks, the lockdown in plains is forcing people up for fresh air. These timely retreats are proving quite beneficial as Covid-19 has led to the collision of obesity and mental health illnesses. Prolonged lockdowns, chronic anxiety, uncertainty, lack of movement, and no socialisation have affected both physical and mental health of large populations. A recent study among 589 obese individuals, aimed at examining the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on substance use, mental health and weight-related behaviours, showed half the participants had some mode of recreational substance use and 10 per cent of them reported increased use since the start of the pandemic. Participants who indulged in substance use admitted panic buying of fast food, challenges in maintaining healthy eating habits and difficulty falling asleep. Another study from the United Kingdom involving 543 adults with more than 30 kg/m2 Body Mass Index showed 55 per cent participants had consumed an unhealthy diet, 61 per cent admitted reduced physical activity, and 80 per cent worsened their sleep during the first lockdown. Most of the participants responded positively for a deteriorated mental health state, higher depression and lower well-being scores. In an open letter, the director of George Washington University expressed concern related to issues like maintaining regular physical activity during lockdown, avoiding stress or emotional eating, and feeling frustrated seeing Covid-19 weight gain memes. All of these collectively affected overall mental wellbeing. As such it is quite natural that people are venturing out to spend some time in nature’s lap. We must maintain a healthy lifestyle while ensuring that we are not violating any Covid-19 norms.