7th April 2020   •   opinion
We all need to look after our mental health under lockdown - especially desis

Image: Unsplash
This pandemic is making everyone more anxious and stressed.

But it could be worse for desis. Anxiety and depression among south Asian women is considerably higher than the general population, studies have shown. Ethnic minorities are also less likely to take antidepressants or contact a mental health service.

On top of that we have threats like possible job losses, loss of routine, social isolation, worries about contracting the virus or having family and loved ones infected.

With that in mind, we all need to take proactive measures to ensure our mental health is as resilient as our physical health.

Here are some steps you can take to start looking after your mental health now:

Stay present: Try meditation or mindfulness to keep your mind focused on the here and now especially if you are worrying or anxious about the future.

Soak up nature: Go for a walk or spend time in the garden noticing the beauty in nature like birdsongs, the scent of flowers and the colours you see.

Read: Books can provide a way of escaping as well as grounding us. Spiritual texts, fictional or even history books can be nourishing.

Stay active: Try to keep your body moving with simple stretching exercises like yoga or YouTube fitness videos.

Find humour: In dark times, humour can lift our spirits. Anything from watching a comedy, calling friends or reading memes or funny videos on the internet can be uplifting.

Write how you feel: Keeping a journal is a good way to express emotions and feelings that are accumulating.

Spread kindness: Helping others makes them feel good and helps to lift you too. It also gives a sense of connecting to something bigger than us which can help to curb low mood.

Find things you are grateful for: Find three things daily that you are grateful for as it can help boost happiness and keep negative feelings from spiralling out of control into something bigger.

Call friends / family: It’s important to stay connected and talk to people you trust about how you are feeling. If you are struggling, please don’t suffer alone in silence, reach out and talk about it.

You don't have to try all of them. But at least try some of them. Change your habits - try something new. You might surprise yourself.
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Mita is a newspaper columnist, Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapist, Acupuncturist and expert in other healing techniques.
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