HOW TO MANAGE YOUR MENTAL HEALTH DURING THE #ENDSARS PROTESTS

The protests about police brutality in Nigeria has been on-going for a few weeks, although it started off as a peaceful one, it has since been hijacked by some violent elements and has turned chaotic with the loss of lives and property across several states in Nigeria, with Lagos state feeling the brunt of this the most.

The state of anarchy that has ensued will lead to fear and that lingering fear will birth anxiety that could deteriorate into depression amongst other mental health issues. Many people are already falling into these patterns especially since we are just coming out of the uncertainties surrounding COVID-19

What is ANXIETY? Anxiety is your body's natural response to stress. It's a feeling of fear or apprehension about what's to come.
African american man in anxiety

What is NORMAL anxiety? Normal anxiety is intermittent and is expected based on certain events or situations. Problem ANXIETY or ANXIETY disorder, on the other hand, tends to be chronic and irrational, and it interferes with many life functions. Avoidance behavior, incessant worry, and concentration and memory problems may all stem from problem anxiety.

It is totally OK to have anxiety when faced with stressful situations, It's OK to feel like you're about to explode from panic and it's OK to have to leave a situation if it makes you uncomfortable. Anxiety is a natural physiological response. Although it may come at inconvenient times or at times where it shouldn't be present, it's nothing to fear.

SYMPTOMS OF ANXIETY

Anxiety can express itself in different ways to different people but the general symptoms include the following:

  • Restlessness, and a feeling of being “on-edge”
  • Uncontrollable feelings of worry
  • Fatigue and tense muscles
  • Avoiding social situations
  • Increased irritability
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Sleep difficulties, such as problems in falling or staying asleep

Anxiety disorders can also be diagnosed as Panic Attacks, which are sudden, intense surges of fear, panic, or anxiety. They are overwhelming, and they have physical as well as emotional symptoms. Many people with panic attacks may have difficulty breathing, sweat profusely, tremble, and feel their hearts pounding.

A recent study showed that 7 in 10 Generation Z’ers suffered from Anxiety and other symptoms of depression in 200 and that figure has been growing considerably and social media use and ‘abuse’ has been shown to be one of the major culprits for this rise. Seeing that social media may not be going away anytime soon, what tips can you use to manage anxiety or other symptoms of depression

              TIPS FOR MANAGING YOUR MENTAL HEALTH DURING A CRISIS

  1. MANAGE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA USE: ‘’Doom-scrolling’’ through social media feeds is anxiety inducing and it is one the of subtle and even ‘dangerous’ ways you are over-stimulating your mind with unhealthy videos, information and images about what’s going on. Trying to keep track of what’s going on could lead many people down a black hole and will leave you exhausted and exasperated. Constantly watching the news about lynching’s and burning has a serious impact on your mental health and you should be aware of this. It all adds to that sense of desperation and hopelessness. At times like this take a deliberate break and manage your screen time. Dedicate blocks of time where you will switch off social media to avoid being overstimulated. Do not feel guilty for not ‘’fighting in the struggle’’ only those who are mentally fit can fight. Take care of yourself first. You should also avoid broadcasting videos indiscriminately on social media as this may ‘’trigger’’ some individuals.
  2. RECOGNIZE HOW YOU ARE FEELING: How do you feel right now? Do you recognize how you feel? What is going on in your body right now? (do you feel energized, lethargic or restless) These are valid questions to ask just to check your emotional temperature. Answer these questions on a scale of 1-5. Feelings that are denied or dismissed do not disappear rather they are intensified; this is not the time to bury your feelings in the sand. The first step to taking charge of your mental health is to understand how you feel and why.  You can use the MOOD METER App on Play store to check your emotional state. That feeling like there is an apple stuck in your throat or that chill down your spine is perfectly normal at times like these. Accepting and acknowledging what you are going through is the first step towards getting better. It’s OK to allow yourself go through these things and process these thoughts in a healthy way before you come to a resolution in your mind. Also remember that some form of anxiety is normal at times like this, do not allow anyone make you feel otherwise.
  3. EAT HEALTHY: This may seem counter intuitive as many people that are anxious often do not have a great desire to eat or eat healthy at that. The kind of food you consume actually has a direct impact on your mental health. If you eat a lots of processed meat, fried food, refined cereals, candy, pastries, and high-fat dairy products, you're more likely to be anxious and depressed. A diet full of whole fiber-rich grains, fruits, vegetables, and fish can help keep you on a more even keel. Eating a nutritious breakfast will also help you avoid that mid-day energy drain that can trigger low glucose levels and even headaches. Whole grains and foods rich in zinc, B-vitamins, Omega 3 fish oils are very good for your mental health as they are co-factors for the synthesis of serotonin and dopamine which are known as the feelgood hormone. So, foods like avocados, almonds, cashews, leafy greens, liver, egg yolks and fish are very good for you.  Antioxidants also play a very important role in maintaining a healthy mental state.
  4. TALK TO SOMEONE ABOUT HOW YOU FEEL: This is a good time to check in with your loved ones as not hearing from them can also heighten that sense of anxiety. Talking to people you trust about how you feel is also a great way to manage your emotions and possible help you get better. Seeking help if you feel overwhelmed is not a sign of weakness and no one should make you feel that way. There are also several HOTLINES to call if you are feeling anxious or depressed. Due to the curfew in many states in Nigeria, it may be difficult to move around so video calls may be the best way to contact them. If you live alone ensure you speak to someone everyday to avoid getting stuck in a rut. If you feel overwhelmed you may need to seek professional help and the good things Is that there are psychologists available to help you. 
  5. AVOID DRUGS AND ALCOHOL: Drugs and alcohol abuse are prevalent in today’s society, and some people use alcohol and other mind-altering substances to cope with their uncertainties and problems. Drug abuse hurts mental growth and overall health.

You should NEVER engage in alcohol and drug abuse, especially as a solution to your problems. #ENDSARS protesters should keep off any drugs and substances during the protest to prevent arrests and maintain sound mental health.

Drugs lead to addictions, health problems and other social ills that can have lasting repercussions. Besides, the effects of drugs are only temporary, and once they wear off, you might find yourself in a worse state of mind than before.

  1. GET SOME ME-TIME: Use this time to meditate, work on a hobby, listen to music, pray, do some chores etc. As long as you are in a safe environment, take the time to focus on yourself and do things that make you happy and gets you back on a leveled emotional state. Watching a movie or working out will also help. Taking a walk early ‘’if you can go out’’. Sitting down for just 10 mins in quietness is a fantastic way to be at ONE with yourself. It does tremendous things for your mental health. Sit down and evaluate what is making you afraid in the first place, why are you scared? What is the worst thing that could happen? Can I prevent this? IT must also be said that many times when we think about the worst thing that can happen, it usually does not happen so in the immortal words of Bobby McFerrin ‘Don’t worry, Be Happy’’.                                                                                                                 

ALL WILL BE WELL.

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