5 tips to protect your mental health during lockdownSunday, August 29, 2021
Dr Ché Bowen
AS Jamaica continues to go through a surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths, the Government has implemented stricter protocols to keep our population safe. Though many of us may not agree with the measures, we are all meant to adhere to the existing lockdown or “no-movement” days that have been put in place.
This isn't our first time going through lockdowns since the pandemic has begun, but each time it may take a harsher toll on us.
Lockdown measures affect us all in different ways. Many factors such as age, economic status, housing situations, and pre-existing health conditions may make us more vulnerable to suffering during lockdown. If there's one thing many of us can agree on across all demographics, it's the mental frustration and anxiety that lockdowns give us.
Here are five tips to help you better navigate lockdowns while protecting your mental and physical health.
1) Create a routine
Even though you may be working from home or not working at all, a routine can be extremely helpful during lockdown periods. If you usually wake up at 7:00 am to get to work, continue getting up, showering and getting ready for your workday rather than just rolling over and logging in at 9:00 am to work from your bed.
Continuing a routine will allow you to maintain structure in your life and help you feel more in control. This pandemic has caused many of us to feel hopeless, like everything is out of our control. A daily routine can help you combat those feelings.
2) Take care of your body
It is crucial during lockdowns for you to take care of your body. It's so easy to sit on the couch all day and overeat because you're bored, but this might actually make you feel worse!
Ensure you exercise; your body needs it. This doesn't have to be anything intense, an easy yoga session to ensure your body is moving and to focus on your breathing can do wonders during this time. Ensuring you eat healthy will also help to build up your immune system, which, of course, is paramount during a pandemic.
3) Check in with yourself
Be sure to check in with yourself and pay attention to how you're feeling. Pay attention to the things that may increase your anxiety and unease during lockdown.
Does watching or reading the news make you more worried? Does talk of the virus on social media cause you distress? It's important to try and avoid overexposure to coverage of the novel coronavirus. Find a balance between staying informed without adding to your distress.
4) Find a distraction
One way to find a balance with the overconsumption of traditional and social media is finding a distraction. Getting lost in a new series or movie on Netflix or reading a book can be one way to keep your mind off things.
You can even find a new hobby. Always wanted to learn a new language? Need to touch up on your artistic skills? Is there something you've always wanted to do but have put off because of work? Now is the perfect time to do it!
5) Remember, you are not alone
Not being around others may feel isolating and like you're the only one feeling down, but you are not alone! We are in a pandemic, therefore, every single country around the world is facing the threat of this virus. On a smaller scale, many Jamaicans, and even your friends and family, may be feeling the same fear, anxiety and uncertainty being in lockdown as you are.
Check in with your loved ones; make sure they're okay and mutually support one another as we all get through this together.
If you do feel like your mental health has become unmanageable and none of these tips has or will make a difference, you can talk to your doctor or a therapist about how you are feeling. Virtual consultations are available during lockdown so you won't have to wait to get treated. Stay safe and take care of yourselves.
Dr Ché Bowen, a digital health entrepreneur and family physician, is the CEO & founder of MDLink, a digital health company that provides telemedicine options. Check out the company's website at www.theMDLink.com. You can also contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.