As June comes to a close, we commemorate 15 months in lockdown. Understandably, people are struggling with their mental health. We are exhausted by the news and information on the pandemic, concerned for friends and family, and isolated from the people we love. Coping with all this stress, anxiety and loneliness can be difficult. Fortunately, there are many ways to manage and care for your mental health.
While it might feel like fast food eases some of the stress of our daily lives, it is now especially important to maintain a healthy diet. We need to ensure that our bodies are fuelled correctly with the right nutrients to keep it safe.
In addition, a healthy diet can also ensure we better maintain a healthy weight, prevent skin acne and fatigue – all of which is aggravated by unhealthy, oil and fat-rich foods often seen with fast foods.
Aside from relying on a healthy diet, it is also advisable to steer clear or reduce your intake of certain foods. Avoid sugar where possible. The body can develop a sort of addiction to sugar. You might experience withdrawals or a slump when you don’t consume sugar. This will only create even more stress.
Also, consider cutting down on the amount of coffee you consume. While it might be tempting to fight the tiredness with caffeine, too much caffeinated coffee can only add to your feelings of anxiousness. Instead, swap out your coffee for Chamomile tea and try to get more rest.
You might feel tempted to skip the gym during this stressful time; however, exercising can be a great way to relieve some of your stress. Try to include at least one 30-min workout three times a week.
If weight or high-impact training feels too exhausting and intense during this time, try replacing these workouts with some cardio or aerobic exercises. Go for a walk or run in our neighbourhood. Just remember your mask!
Be sure to adjust your lifestyle to accommodate for this additional exercise. Drink more water, sleep more (if possible), and eat foods that will support your exercise routine.
The national lockdown and travel restrictions have made it difficult for us to visit with friends and family. In addition, following government guidelines, many deliberately isolate from their friends, families and gatherings to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.
However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t other ways for us to stay connected with friends and family. Try scheduling weekly catch up sessions. These can be in the form of a games night via a video call or simple phone call – whatever your ability.
Schedule a set day and time for these sessions to take place and make them compulsory. In other words, try your best not to cancel.
Take a break
In this stressful time, we are facing an information overload with regards to the virus, pandemic and lockdown. It can be difficult to focus on anything. For those working from home, it can be even more difficult to switch off from work.
Taking frequent breaks is important. Listen to when your mind needs a break. Step away from your computer, leave your phone at your desk and try to spend a few moments outside or in a peaceful space.
Especially before bed, it is useful to do an activity that makes your relax. Consider reading a book, listening to some music or meditating.
The most important thing is to listen to what your body and mind needs. Don’t be afraid to communicate these needs to friends, family or your employer.
Contact a professional
If your feelings of anxiety, stress, fatigue or even depression persists, be sure to contact your doctor or healthcare professional. Consider reaching out to a psychologist or counsellor.
If you would prefer to stay at home, there are various online counselling opportunities available, for example, Syked, The Space Between Us (TSBU), TherapyRoom.co.za, OnlineTherapy.com, and the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG).