Managing Mental Wellbeing In Challenging Times

The “Sitting Down with Dr. Barker” Series on Mental Wellbeing.

If you haven’t yet seen the video, please follow the link here.

Coronavirus has left us all feeling affected in some way. We’ve never faced a pandemic quite like it, undoubtedly leaving many of us feeling anxious. Dr. Barker focusses on the effects of Covid-19 on your mental wellbeing and provides some tips to support you through these unprecedented times. Let’s break it down in more detail:

The Science:

When faced with threats to our safety and security, we feel anxious. Our brain detects the uncertainty which prepares us for action. We physically go into fight, flight or freeze mode.  

You may have heard of the fight-flight-freeze response – the body’s protection mechanism. The amygdala is part of the brain that’s based behind the right ear in the limbic system. When sensing potential threat, it releases adrenaline into our blood stream. This causes the heart to beat faster, shortens breath and sends blood throughout the body to protect us. The response is the same whether that is being faced with a tiger in the jungle or worrying about recent events linked to Covid-19. 

This primal instinct can make breathing more difficult and your heart may start to pound. Often, this can make you feel faith or as though you’re about to have a heart attack. More commonly known as a panic attack. 

Managing Anxiety:

Regulate breathing

During stressful times, your breath is your best friend. The slow release slows the breathing, calming your heart and letting your brain know that the threat has passed. 

Breathe in through your nose to a count of 4 (try to fill your stomach) 

Hold for a count of 4 

Slowly breathe out for a count of 6-7 

Repeat 2-3 times

Avoid getting into a panic 

When we are faced with unpredictability and uncertainty, it’s normal to experience feelings of helplessness and start to worry. 

Dr. Barker’s Top Tips for Managing Mental Wellbeing:

(1) Take Control of the Worrying 

We can only control ourselves, our own reactions and thoughts. We can’t control what is going on in the outside world, so try not to worry. Do follow the news for regular updates, although focus on the positive as much as you can since it’s easy to get bogged down.

Focus on the worries that you can control, and problem solve around those. 

(2)  Structure Your Day 

Wake up at the same time you would normally, shower, dress and plan your day as if you’re going to work. Get back the sense of urgency to get things done. 

(3)  Do Something 

Move your body! 

Do some exercise, get stuck into those jobs you’ve been putting off for a while, find a new skill or try something creative. 

(4)  Change Something 

How many times have you wished to have a day at home?

Take advantage of the time now, change something in your environment and notice all the positives around you!

(5)  Catch-up with family members and friends

Keep in regular contact with your loved ones, or even someone you haven’t caught up with for a while. There’s so many ways to connect with people and stay in touch. 

(6)  Laughter 

Laughter is scientifically proven to release endorphins, the “feel-good” chemical, do things to make you laugh!

(7)  Treat Your Body 

Stretching exercises, yoga, dance, bath with some essential oils that make you feel good. These are all great ways of calming your nerves. 

Be kind to yourself and others and notice the changes you’ll begin to see.