With many people going into depression amidst the Coronavirus lockdown, the Health Ministry on Tuesday warned against using tobacco and alcohol during the period stating that it could make things worse and even reduce one’s immunity.

“Distract yourself from negative emotions by listening to music, reading, watching an entertaining programme on television. If you had old hobbies like painting, gardening or stitching, go back to them. Rediscover your hobbies,” the ministry said in a document, titled ‘Minding our minds during the COVID-19 pandemic’.

Sharing tips about how to beat anxiety and stress which may arise due to social distancing measures put in place to contain the spread of novel coronavirus, the ministry urged people not to judge those who get infected by coronavirus.

Even those who recover from the infection may feel stress because of the behaviour of others.

The ministry further urged people to not shun or judge people with COVID-19 infection. While maintaining a physical distance, it said, such patients also need care and concern. “If you know someone who might have the infection, tell them about precautions, and how to get medical assistance, if required,” the document said.

The government has also asked people to not panic if they get infected with Coronavirus. “Remember most people get better. Do not panic. Practise self-isolation and take medications that are advised,” it said.

While simple measures like following a regular schedule, remaining physically active and having a positive frame of mind can help one to handle social isolation, those who continue to feel fear, anger or irritation should seek help, the ministry said.

“Feeling lonely or sad is also quite common. Stay connected with others. Communication can help you to connect with family and friends. Call up people whom you haven’t spoken to and surprise them. Discuss happy events, common interests, exchange cooking tips, share music,” it said.

To help people cope with stress, the ministry also issued a helpline number (080-46110007) for advice from a mental health professional.