MOSSEL BAY NEWS - For some of us the lockdown is a time that tests our mental health.
Being confined to your home, without much social interaction or time outside is stressful and may cause feelings of depression and anxiety.
Those who already suffer from anxiety and depression might find that the lockdown is exactly the wrong circumstance for them to be in.
Things such as getting out of the house and speaking to people, spending time outside, exercise and routine are all essential in managing mental health disorders and are exactly the things we are not allowed to do during this time.
The Mossel Bay Advertiser spoke to clinical psychologist Dr Yvette Pozyn, who gave the following tips on how to manage your mental health during lockdown.
- Have a regular bedtime and wake-up time. When a typical sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm), is changed, it can negatively affect mental wellbeing. Staying at home may cause stress, boredom or uncertainty and many may turn to eating or drinking as a way to cope.
- Eat at routine times and practise moderation. Skip boredom-induced binge eating. Reduce carbohydrates and junk food that can make you feel sluggish. Eat foods with high levels of tryptophan, an amino acid that converts to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of wellbeing and happiness. These foods include dairy products, poultry, nuts and seeds, legumes, fruits (bananas and pineapples), vegetables (spinach and broccoli). Drink plenty of water.
- Have a degree of routine or daily plan: working, eating, sleeping, exercising, relaxing, having fun, spending time with God, showering, me-time, getting dressed.
- Find something you can control: organise your books, clean your closet, pantry, move the furniture, spring clean.
It helps to anchor and ground us in moments of big uncertainty and chaos.
- Catch up on news ONCE a day, more than that might increase anxiety and/or depression.
- DO NOT tune into the pandemic 24/7. Embrace uncomfortable sensations. We often try to escape or ignore uncomfortable feelings which tend to magnify them.
- Slow and gentle breathing will help, especially when anxiety sets in.
Breathe in for a count of six, hold it for three, then breath out for six. Focus on the cool air as you breathe in and the warm air as you breathe out. Get at least 20 minutes' exposure to direct sunlight per day. A lack of sunlight causes a chemical imbalance in our brains that leaves us feeling lethargic or depressed.
If you feel that you are in need of counselling and cannot see a psychologist face to face during the lockdown, contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) Mental Health Helpline (011 234 4837) to speak to a counsellor.
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