Mental Health Gains from the COVID-19 Lockdown

The greatest challenge most of us have to contend with during this COVID-19 induced lockdown and restriction of movements is how to achieve a state of “mental reset”.

Having to deviate from our daily active routines to a situation of arrested mobility can create in us a psychological state of “cognitive dissonance”.  Simply put, cognitive dissonance is a state of psychological stress experienced when an individual is compelled to participate in an action that contradicts their beliefs, ideas or values.

Simply put, cognitive dissonance is a state of psychological stress experienced when an individual is compelled to participate in an action that contradicts their beliefs, ideas or values.

 

We are all compelled to deviate from our daily routine and stay away from the people and the places we love. This is emotionally challenging.

A lot of people are exploring all avenues to break away from the regimented lifestyle. Others are looking at ways of ventilating their pent up emotions. That is probably one of the reasons why there was a massive backlash when a popular actress threw caution to the winds by promoting the “washing of hands and staying at home” on one hand and throwing a house party that would be impossible without violating the lifestyle she was supposed to be promoting on the other hand.

She mistakenly aggravated the stress of the people by putting further strain on the “cognitive dissonance” they were all trying to cope with. The revolt was spontaneous!

We need to press our “mental reset button”.

We need to rearrange our routine and set new priorities for ourselves. The new priorities must be achievable within our current reality and must focus on optimizing our mental health and overall wellbeing.

We can improve our mental health during this lockdown if we consciously choose to promote our mental health within the realities of our current status, and the limitations that come with it.

Our overall health is directly related to our mental health. Our mental health is also a product of our lifestyle which includes our diet, level of physical activity, attention to physical health & hygiene, habits and relationships (family and social).

  • I know some of us have been trying to avoid junk food and maintain a healthy diet; this is another opportunity to be in control of what you have to eat.
  • This is the time to quit smoking and cut down or completely stop your alcohol consumption! These two habits have negative consequences.
  • For those of us who have been too busy to rest, and we have been told several times that “you are overworking yourself”; this is the opportunity to rest and recuperate. Specifically, my brother and others who have to travel from Lagos mainland to Lagos Island daily; monitoring traffic and plotting travel routes, enjoy this healthy break from your daily routine. Allow your body and spirit to recuperate and be revived.
  • We gain a lot from sleeping adequately. We also lose a lot from not sleeping adequately. For your mental health, it is not out of place for you to sleep refreshingly. It will enhance your mental health. Read more on sleep.

One of the mental health gains you must not miss out on is “feeding and strengthening” your mind.

  • This is best done by reading. I am purposely focusing on “reading” and not “seeking information”. Reading has a lot of practical benefits. Asides from the fact that we get informed by reading useful material, reading enhances the connectivity of our brain cells. It also helps us to be empathetic, reduces our stress and also protects us from age-related cognitive decline. Avoid reading fake and toxic news!!! You can read my previous article on this topic.
  • Another relevant means of strengthening your mind is through prayer and meditation.

For those of us who are spiritual and have been having interferences with our connection with our God due to our busy routine (and this has been given us some anxiety), this is another opportunity to revive our spirituality and renew our connection.

Interpersonal relationships and bonding with our family can also be improved during this lockdown.

  • Bonding and enhanced connectedness between parents and their children, spouses or family members, have mutual benefits for all. Misunderstandings will give way to understanding; a conflict will give way to an agreement while discord will give way to harmony. All these will reduce the anxiety and negative emotions associated with such ill-feelings within the home.

This is the best time to improve your relationship with the persons who are significant to you! It will improve your mental health and wellbeing.

In my clinical duties as a mental health professional, I have found out that improving the relationship between my clients and their family members (when feasible) contributes positively to the outcome of my intervention.

You have to review your work goals and targets. Any normal person knows that organizational targets have to be revised. Without compromising on the vision of your organization, you need to revise your targets based on the reality of what is currently going on. Nations are reviewing their budgets and projections. Everybody is involved directly. Pursuing previous targets in this lockdown will be unreasonable and counterproductive when the lockdown is reversed. It will put you and others you work with under emotional tension during and after this lockdown. It will be damaging to your mental health.

Above all, be physically active (In-house work out), be mentally productive and spiritually energized for the rest of this lockdown.

Try everything possible to keep yourself safe and sane through this experience.

Please, wash your hands obsessively, maintain a safe physical distance in unavoidable social interactions and keep away from fake news!!!

Better still….”STAY AT HOME” for as long as necessary!!!

Feel free to share this and share your thoughts as well!

 

 

 

 

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Ola Ibigbami

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1 Response

  1. Thank you sir for all these educative articles. I always feel encouraged after reading your write up and has many lessons to go home with at the end of each article. God bless you Sir

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