JEETUN ATEEQ

Our world today faces an avalanche of challenges. The appalling and rapid spread of COVID-19 is not only a threat to human life and health. It also brings along innumerable undesirable repercussions such as economic and political instability, mass human displacement, a worrying surge in the level of unemployment and various other socioeconomic impacts. Yet, arguably, the most profound impact of this global pandemic can be felt on people’s mental health. With the world around us “collapsing”, people are more than ever facing high levels of stress, anxiety and depression. It is therefore essential for people to take care of their mental health. An individual can adopt numerous steps to take care of his/her mental health. Do keep in mind however that the following measures do not replace medical advice and treatment.   

What can YOU do to feel better mentally?

Exercising – Exercise is not only beneficial for our physical health but also for our mental health and a few minutes of exercise a day can be a great ally in the fight against numerous psychological conditions such as anxiety and depression. According to an article from Harvard Health Publishing, “engaging in exercise diverts you from the very thing you are anxious about”, “decreases muscle tension, increases the availability of important anti-anxiety neurochemicals, including serotonin, gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and endocannabinoids” among other things.

Express yourself- Many people suffering from anxiety and depression believe that they are alone and that no one else understands what they are going through whereas in reality, millions of people around the world are going through the same experience. By sharing your feelings and thoughts with the right people, you will not only feel better but also realise that many other people around you are either dealing with the same issues or have already overcome these issues. This realisation that you are not in this alone will give you the courage to keep fighting.

Meditation- Similarly to exercising, meditation also seems to have a calming effect on the human brain allowing us to filter negative thoughts. A few minutes of meditation a day can allow an anxious person to slow down negative thoughts and breathe better thereby reducing physiological symptoms of anxiety.

See a therapist- Even though the taboo around mental health and treatment continues to prevail even in the 21st century, more and more people are now seeking professional health to better deal with mental health issues. It is perfectly normal to see a counsellor or psychologist who can guide us to better understand our thoughts and feelings. Private psychologists are present in almost every clinic around the island and the government continues to provide psychological services in hospitals free of charge for those who need it. It is perfectly normal to seek psychological treatment in the same way one would visit a doctor for physical ailments.

Eat healthily- What we consume has an impact on the way we feel. Eating vegetables and fruits regularly allows our system to function better whereas unhealthy food slows down our system and affects our psychological state of mind as well.

In order to address any issue, whether psychological or physical, willpower is extremely important and even though it can be difficult for people going through anxiety or depression to gather the courage to fight back, we all have the potential and ability to do so. Start with little steps and move slowly towards other changes that will gradually improve your quality of life.

Remember, it gets better and you are not in this alone!