Beat stress with self-discipline, meditation during lockdown — Experts

Pakistani females wears face masks to help prevent exposure to the new coronavirus, after Punjab Government has issued orders to closed all educational institutions, parks and all public gathering places to prevent coronavirus in Lahore on Mar 17, 2020. (Photo courtesy: social media)
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Updated 04 April 2020

Beat stress with self-discipline, meditation during lockdown — Experts

  • Self-isolation and social distancing may lead to tremendous mental pressure among many
  • Experts say building physical and mental immunity can relieve anxiety and stress

RAWALPINDI: While experts warn that self-isolation and social distancing during long virus lockdowns could trigger symptoms of anxiety and depression among people, they list a number of practices to beat stress out of life. 
Building “mental immunity,” at a time when physical immunity has taken center stage is critical to one’s well-being, said Islamabad-based psychotherapist, Nida Maqbool.
“What most people do not realize is that our mental immunity and physical immunity are interlinked,” Maqbool told Arab News over the phone. “If we are not mentally fit, we also feel physical repercussions.”
Another Islamabad-based counselor, Farah Rehman, who operates out of Therapy Works in the nation’s capital said, “Building physical and mental immunity can give quite a relief to anxiety whether it’s working on your fitness or writing down what you are grateful for. Another great tool is meditation.”
A few weeks ago, Pakistanis began following the World Health Organization’s guidelines of social distancing and self-isolation in order to help combat the spread of coronavirus, a hard adjustment to normal practice.
Provinces in Pakistan announced lockdowns, shops other than pharmacies and grocery stores were shuttered and, while all of this was done to keep Pakistanis safe, the situation triggered anxiety, stress and depression among many in the absence of usual social interactions.
“Humans are not meant to be completely isolated,” Omar Bazza, a clinical therapist practicing in Toronto, told Arab News over the phone. “Distancing and social isolation can indeed trigger a lot of anxiety and depression symptoms.”
In addition to forgoing social interactions, even those as simple as bumping into friends somewhere, there is the added stress of lost jobs, bills piling up, uncertainty of the future and the desire to keep the family safe.
“These concerns can easily trigger or even create anxiety. We are starting to see depression and anxiety in people who previously never experienced issues with their mental health,” said Bazza to Arab News.
“I have seen some of my depression make a comeback,” said Roshaan Amber, an Islamabad-based telecom worker, about being stuck at home. “Previously, I went for therapy to deal with anxiety and my depression was under control. But being at home all the time has once again stimulated it.”
Anousheh Azra works with the banking sector, one of the few areas of economy that have been deemed essential and therefore keeping people like her out of home. Yet, she is required to practice social distancing which, she believes, is making her life immensely difficult.
“I feel constantly exhausted, no matter how well rested I am,” she told Arab News. “I feel anxious.”
Maqbool suggests that “We all need to realize that we are going through trauma at a global level.” “We need to give ourselves the space to feel this.”
She recommends setting strict boundaries to exercise self-discipline like the one she has for herself where only a small portion of the day is dedicated to reading the news and where friends and family have been told that if they want to have a chat they need to discuss something other than the coronavirus. “If I am not in a good mental space myself, I cannot help my clients who are looking to me as a source of peace and safety.”
Maqbool has joined many people across the globe by using the Internet and digital platforms to reach her clients. She brings 80 percent of her clients to work with her online and sees 20 percent of them in person at her home, though “we keep a distance of five feet and meet in my lawn.”
Rehman said that “helping the underprivileged while staying within one’s capacity” can also tend to ease anxiety and depression. Another healthy indulgence is helping family members or friends passing through a tough time in isolation by “staying in touch virtually whether it’s a phone call or video chat and of course through social media,” said added.
Online resources for stress inoculation are available as well, though one should be cautioned to make sure the source of the website is legitimate and attached to medical or mental health professionals.


Court grants Shahbaz Sharif pre-arrest bail in assets beyond means case

Updated 03 June 2020

Court grants Shahbaz Sharif pre-arrest bail in assets beyond means case

  • The country’s anti-graft watchdog raided his house on Tuesday to arrest him
  • Sharif’s party leaders maintain the government is trying to politically victimize the opposition

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday granted pre-arrest bail till June 17 to Punjab’s former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif in assets beyond means case that is being investigated by the country’s National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
The court’s division bench, headed by Justice Tariq Abbasi, heard the petition to stop the country’s anti-graft agency from making the arrest since Sharif was cooperating with the investigators.
“The court has accepted the pre-arrest bail plea of Mian Shahbaz Sharif and has restrained NAB from his arrest till June 17, 2020. The court asked the petitioner to furnish a bail bound worth half a million rupees,” Sharif’s lawyer, Azam Nazir Tarar, told Arab News after the proceedings.
The country’s anti-corruption body is investigating a matter related to the possession of assets beyond the politician’s stated means of income and alleged money laundering charges.
NAB summoned Sharif, who is also the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly of Pakistan, for investigation on June 2, but he did not appear before the authorities and sent a letter wherein he said that he was 69 years old and a cancer survivor and did not want to talk undue health risks during the time of coronavirus pandemic.
Sharif also requested the NAB authorities to interview him on Skype and sent a written reply to the questionnaire sent by the investigation agency through its representative.
NAB did not accept the plea and issued Sharif’s arrest warrants. A NAB team also reached his Model Town residence in Lahore on Tuesday to take him into custody, spending about 90 minutes to detain him, but it later returned to its office since the former Punjab chief minister was not found at his home.
Sharif had already filed a pre-arrest bail plea at the Lahore High Court which was fixed for a hearing on Wednesday. His lawyers submitted that NAB had been leveling allegations against their client for the last 16 months but the agency had failed to file any reference against him.
They also claimed that the proceedings of the NAB case were based on mala fide intention since the agency had summoned Sharif on June 2 while his arrest warrants had been issued on May 28.
NAB prosecutor pleaded that the anti-graft watchdog had sufficient evidence against the leader of the opposition to arrest him since he was involved in money laundering and possessing assets beyond his stated means of income. He also argued that the court had previously rejected the bail plea of Hamza Shahbaz, Sharif’s son, and two other accused in a similar case.
The court granted pre-arrest bail to Sharif till the 17th of this month, instructing him to cooperate with the agency in its investigations.
“The authorities have issued arrest warrant of Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif in the assets beyond means case. The court has granted him pre-arrest bail and told the accused to cooperate with NAB. The agency will also honor the court order,” a NAB official told Arab News.
Leaders of Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) reacted strongly to the development, blaming the government for politically victimizing the opposition.
“The PML-N is ready for accountability. NAB should file references against us in courts instead of arresting us. We are ready to face any charges, but the government has nothing solid against us and is using unethical tactics. It has adopted a vindictive approach,” former PML-N prime minister Shahid Khan Abbasi told Arab News.