Experts at the DHA shared some advice on how to cope with stress in the new normal.
As the Covid-19 outbreak takes a toll on mental health globally, experts at the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) shared some advice on how to cope with stress in the new normal.
While the world has now come to terms with the pandemic situation, carrying forward with a healthy state of mind is a priority, the DHA said.
Dr Khawla Ahmed Al Mir, consultant psychiatrist at Rashid Hospital, said: “The initial shock period is over and we are clearly in the adjustment phase. We need to learn to live with the current realities, we need to adapt in order to stay fit mentally.”
In the current situation, there are some stress triggers that cannot be changed, such as job insecurities, Mir said. “So, it is important to remember that we should focus only on the things that we can change and we should not stress about the things that are beyond our control.
“Although a certain amount of forward planning and strategising is important to prevent sudden setbacks, overthinking is definitely not helpful for the mind.”
Get enough exercise
The psychiatrist explained that in order to support your mental health, it is best to stick to routines as much as possible, especially when it comes to physical activty.
“Exercise is a known and proven stress buster; it helps release endorphins, which are feel-good hormones. Those who do not exercise, I strongly urge them to take up an activity, it could be simple exercises for 30 minutes on the mat or a walk outside now that the weather is cooler.
“Connecting with nature is therapeutic in many ways, so combine spending time outdoors with exercise. But, of course, make sure you wear a mask and follow all precautionary measures in line with government regulations.”
When to seek help for stress
While some level of stress is normal amid Covid-19, Mir said professional help must be sought when it becomes ‘unmanageable’.
“If the stress level reaches unmanageable levels for long periods of time where for instance you are not able to get out of bed or doing daily tasks seems like a problem or you are facing persistent negative thoughts, it is time to seek professional help and support,” she explained.
She also advised people to have realistic expectations and embrace the current situation to find solutions rather than trying to escape or fight it.
“I understand that parents of young children in particular have a lot on their plate, especially if they have opted for home schooling. Working out a timetable where they probably wake up an hour earlier to finish their work or prepare for busy mornings might be helpful.”
On weekends, while there could be several other tasks to be done, parents should find some “quiet time” for themselves, the psychiatrist said.
Finally, it is important to adopt calming activities such as yoga, meditation or journaling, she said. “Practise it daily even if it is for 15 minutes. Your mind is the backbone to health and wellbeing, take time out to protect and nurture it.”
How to beat stress in a nutshell
>> Exercise: It is not only good for your physical health; it is great for your mental health too!
>> Deep breathing and meditation: Do not underestimate the power of breath to help calm your mind
>> Prioritise sleep: Lack of sleep increases stress hormones.
>> Reduce or eliminate caffeine: If you notice that caffeine makes you jittery or anxious, consider cutting back.
>> Accept that there are events that you cannot control.
>> Set-realistic goals and be kind to yourself
>> Seek social support: Spend time with people who are positive and empowering
>> Seek medical support: If you are suffering from persistent stress, anxiety, and are unable to manage your condition, seek professional help.
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