What is the impact of Covid-19 on Mental Health and How Can We Better Manage the Anxiety?
Mental health amidst covid-19:managing anxiety
People around the world are experiencing increased Mental health issues during this novel Covid-19 pandemic. Employers and employees are currently facing uncertainty and the fear of the disease itself.
- Forced physical isolation (social distancing is normally associated with poor mental health) causes economic constraints and societal disruptions.
- Extensive news coverage on the pandemic and an uncertain future as a result, anxiety among other mental issues are on the rise. For example: depression, suicide and other personality disorders (Obsessive Compulsive Disorders) are escalating
For today we shall cover anxiety further as one of the main psychological effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
What is anxiety and what are its possible causes?
This is what we feel when we are worried, tense, or afraid particularly about things that are about to happen or which we think could happen in the future. Anxiety is a natural human response perceived as a threat. A good example is what we are experiencing right now with Covid-19. Anxiety can be experienced through our feelings, thoughts and physical sensations.
- Thoughts = why can’t I concentrate?
- Feelings = Frustration, worry, sadness
- Physical sensation = tension, stomach upsets, jitters, compulsively checking of updates
With all this in mind we are bound to develop anxiety and other related disorders such as substance abuse and other addictive behaviors that may be non-substance abuse related. When we feel under threat our bodies react by releasing certain hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol that usually hormones normalize our moods.
How can we manage anxiety appropriately?
Facts always minimize fear: What we have faced over the past few months has caused mass distress which indicates that our emotions have hijacked our sense of reason and logic resulting in a treacherous lifestyle waiting for doomsday.
Shift of narrative and perspective:Each and every one should continue to pursue and follow their sense of purpose, passion or ambition that in turn brings food to their table. Let us be mindful and consume news sparingly without overloading our mind with all the updates. On the contrary information is key, how much of it we consume, is what matters.
Tips and Tricks to help us get through this time:
- Let’s work together with a sense of empathy
- Have a structured day routine
- Manage your expectations, go easy on yourself and raise your bar. Let’s be realistic in our goals and objectives.
- Proactively manage your stress threshold (have sufficient sleep, experts encourage 6 to 7 hours on average for adults)
- Eat well and eat healthy watch out for processed foods e.g. sodas, junk food, alcohol etc.
- Maintain connections such as virtual coffee groups, virtual working spaces as well as the occasional walk outside to get some Vitamin D from the sun.
- Finally, let us manage our uncertainty by staying in the present – use words like “I am” or “This is” rather than “I will” or “I did”.
- Listen to positive uplifting music and play with your children or spend time with your loved ones.
We are not at the mercy of the corona virus; The great advantage we have is that the decisions we all make as governments, businesses, communities, families and individuals can influence the trajectory of this pandemic Dr Tedros Adhanom Dir. general WHO .
Josephine Kinya (The writer is a consulting counseling psychologist/mediator)
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