No doubt, 2020 has been a very eventful year.
The COVID19 pandemic as well as other upsetting happenings both locally and around the world have affected people’s lives in different ways. Many have experienced various forms of losses; including the loss of loved ones, jobs, businesses, opportunities and so on. These traumatic events have completely disrupted our lives and it is normal and understandable that people are experiencing different levels of mental stress and health issues. This is particularly true since fear, worry and stress are normal responses to perceived or real threats, especially when we are faced with uncertainties.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Association of Psychiatrists (APN) in Nigeria have also presented very worrying statistics about mental health issues in 2020, which calls for urgent consideration. While WHO has maintained that 1 out of 4 adults has at least one form of mental disorder, the APNigeria earlier in this year, raised alarm on the increase in the rate of mental illness in the country. They noted that the COVID19 pandemic and its resultant socio-economic effects have further pushed the prevalence rate from 25 to 40 per cent. Aside from the reports of increased cases, WHO in a recent survey found out that mental health care and services have also been hampered in many countries. Specifically, 93% of countries worldwide have disrupted or halted critical mental health services. All these are pointers to the fact that we all must take personal responsibility for our mental well-being.
I understand how tough the situation might be but I am reminded of the words of Dr Robert Schuller; “Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do!” These words have helped me through many tough times, even in 2020. So are you anxious and apprehensive about something tangible – maybe managing some kind of loss, or you are apprehensive about happenings around and the uncertainties before you? Let me share 3 simple tips to help you manage stress and anxiety in this period;
- Identify The Stress Triggers
Stress, particularly long-term stress, is strongly linked to anxiety and are triggered by things that happen in our lives. To maintain your mental well-being, you need to identify these triggers. Honestly ask yourself; “what are my stress triggers?” An easy way to identify them is by keeping track every day. Write down the stress points you experience during your day’s activities and record any anxious thoughts associated with them. After a few days, check the list and observe possible causes and triggers. As Charles Kettering, an inventor and head of research for General Motors said: “a problem well-stated is half-solved” – when you identify your specific sources of stress and anxiety, you can take steps to avoid or manage them.
- Maintain Your Network
The natural tendency for many people when they are going through stress is to isolate themselves. It is not usually the best approach. Research has shown that having a social support system has a positive impact on your overall mental health. In fact, a 2015 survey found that the average stress level for people with emotional support from their immediate community is considerably lower than those who are isolated. A good support system can be family members, friends, teachers, faith leaders, neighbours, peers or mentors – people you like, respect and trust. What’s important is that you feel comfortable talking to them about what you’re experiencing and asking for the support you may need.
- Avoid Information Overload
This is very important. You need to manage your exposure to information. While it’s important to stay informed, it is equally essential to filter the things you let into your mind. Personally, I sometimes go off the news feeds and social media to avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety. I suggest you give yourself some “news-free” periods and control your exposure to social media. If you have to block some accounts that constantly feed your fears and apprehension, please go ahead. The important thing is that you are in the right frame of mind to process needed information for maximum productivity.
My friend, don’t forget that your entire well-being comes first. It’s very okay to pause and check-in with yourself from time-to-time.
Remember, You Have Only One Life to Live, MAKE IT COUNT.