Managing your Covid anxiety -
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With the ongoing pandemic, we see several reports which suggest that symptoms of anxiety and depression are common psychological reactions in the population and amongst almost all age groups.

It's safe to say after the year we had, everyone is a little bit anxious. Although we have somewhat adapted to the new normal, some might still have difficulty adjusting—especially those who might have lost a loved one, a partner or a dear friend. With the whole medical sector focused on fighting the disease, we have put other medical issues such as mental health aside to concentrate on achieving herd immunity. Dealing with the sudden loss of work or with the death of a loved one can also add additional amounts of anxiety to individuals and households.

During the duration of the pandemic, adults reported numerous negative impacts on their mental health. Some reported having insomnia, difficulty eating, an increase in alcohol consumption and worsening chronic conditions due to the worry and stress caused by the pandemic. With the ongoing pandemic, specific measures must be taken to prevent poor mental health and burnout. As the tension rises, so does our anxiety; however, we are here to tell you that you can take preventative action to safeguard your mental health.

This blog post will give you some insightful tips on managing your Covid anxiety and stress.

Five psychological benefits of being physically active

We are all too familiar with exercise's physical benefits, such as increased energy, reduced risk of heart diseases, and lowering of blood pressure. But sometimes, we forget that there are copious mental health benefits attached to exercise to keep your state of mind happy and healthy and your memory sharp. Let's look at the five psychological benefits of being physically active below, and we will briefly discuss each benefit.

1. Anxiety and Depression

When the human body is physically active, the brain releases "feel good" endorphins produced by the brain and spinal cord, leaving you with a sense of euphoria and feelings of happiness. It's been scientifically proven that exercise is a tried and tested mood booster. It decreases symptoms of depression and anxiety dramatically over some time. Start by following a moderate exercise routine throughout the week and build up from there. After a month of regular exercise, you'll start noticing the difference, and others will see a difference too.

2. Reduces stress levels

Stress will silently take its toll if nothing is done to reduce stress levels. Something we can all benefit from at this point. Exercising increases your heart rate, minimising stress-induced damage by stimulating and releasing healthy chemicals in the body. The other benefit of exercise is that it forces your central-nervous system to communicate with one another, which ultimately improves your ability to respond to stress.

3. Improved self-confidence

Regular exercise ensures that you get that summer body you've always wanted and improves your endurance ability. All of these achievements lead to a boost of self-esteem and the natural confidence that comes with it. Setting personal goals and reaching them improves the body, mind and soul. The way you feel about yourself will have a significant impact on your mental health.

4. Improves sleep cycles

If you are always stressed or anxious, the chances are that you are struggling to fall asleep at night too. Sleeplessness and stress go hand in hand in some cases. Still, by following a well-structured exercise routine, your body develops and regulates your circadian rhythm, which serves as the bodies built-in alarm clock that controls when we feel tired and when we don't.

5. Improves Brainpower and memory

Research has proven that cardiovascular exercise stimulates and creates new brain cells, which are advantageous in several ways, such as improving memory and intelligence. The process is called neurogenesis which improves overall brain functioning and performance. Studies have proven that physical exercise boosts creativity and mental energy too.

There are plenty of ways of taking care of your mental health. Physical Exercises is not the only option that's available to you. Sometimes making small and subtle changes to your overall habits and routines can alleviate stress and anxiety symptoms. The old proverb goes, you are what you eat, and the same applies when it comes to mental health. Psychonutrition is a new field of study focused on the effects one's diet has on one's mental health and is sometimes called nutritional psychiatry. An article in the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society suggests that people following a western diet are more prone to depression and anxiety than those who consume a Mediterranean diet. This could be attributed to the high number of processed foods and artificial sweeteners that can be found in many westernised diets.

What’s the link between a healthy diet and a healthy mental state?

Healthy foods that promote and stimulate new brain cells are diets that include polyunsaturated fatty acids, curcumin, and polyphenols. A well-structured calorie diet without over or under eating also helps with the neurogenesis process within the brain. As mentioned earlier, Mediterranean diets can reduce depression and anxiety symptoms and are highly recommended by dieticians, but what are the compounds that link your diet to lower rates of depression? Let’s discuss them below and highlight the food types that make up a Mediterranean diet.

Compounds in the Mediterranean diet include:
  • vitamin D
  • omega-3 fatty acids
  • resveratrol
  • s-adenosylmethionine
Food types found in a Mediterranean diet:
  • Whole grains
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Cereals such as oats or muesli
  • Beans and pulses
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Moderate amounts of dairy products
  • Fish and poultry
  • Very little red meat
  • Red and white wine in moderate amounts

Other factors that assist in maintaining a healthy state of mind are our habits and routines. Our brains are conditioned by nature to follow patterns and structure. By adopting a healthy routine, you decrease potential anxiety triggers and depressive states or moods. Not only do you need one for yourself if you have children at home, but they would need a constructive and balanced routine as well.

Try these top tips when the anxiety starts setting in:

Create some distance between you and the media

To stop the spread of Covid, we practise social distancing. The same can be said about distancing yourself from the media. Continuous negativity from the media will send your brain into overdrive. Anxiety feeds off uncertainty and overthinking. Take a break from the press, instead focus on things you are grateful for or practise mindfulness to keep your mind anxiety free.

Take action because prevention is better than cure.

If you feel the mental effects of Covid anxiety and have not yet reached out for help, it is time to consider taking action. Symptoms of mental health can become like a snowball every day, adding on more and more anxiety. Eventually, it will catch up, and when it does, it can have devastating effects. However, you shouldn't worry because Zwavelstream clinic is just a phone call away. The specialist medical support you will receive from them will help you regain your mental resiliency.

Take care of your body

Get enough rest and weekly exercise. Try some mindfulness techniques or meditations. Eating a balanced diet, as we mentioned, also goes a long way in managing anxiety and depression. Remember also to make enough time to unwind and try some activities you regularly enjoy.

Home workouts that can improve your mental health

If you are homebound for a while, here are some great exercises you can do from the comfort of your home. Sarah Ezzideen is an online personal trainer and fitness expert at Alpha Fem fitness based in Johannesburg. She is also a student advisor at the HFPA Fitness Academy. Having many years of fitness experience, Sarah decided to obtain her Diploma in Exercise sciences at HFPA, amongst other qualifications such as Kettlebell, Group Fitness, and TRX. She has also competed in various fitness competitions and powerlifting competitions. She is now dedicating herself to helping women achieve their goals sustainably through flexible and balanced methodologies for lasting confidence and happiness.

Today Sarah will be showing us a full-body workout that you can do at home. This workout is done in a circuit style, which means that you will be performing eight exercises, one after the other, with little to no rest in between sets. We will be doing between 8 and 10 reps per exercise, and when the circuit is completed, we will be taking a 1-minute rest period.

Exercise 1: Jump squats – 8 to 10 reps
Exercise 2: Incline push-ups – 8 to 10 reps
Exercise 3: Triceps dips – 8 to 10 reps
Exercise 3: Bulgarian split squats – 8 to 10 reps per leg
Exercise 4: Elevated hip thrusts – 8 to 10 reps
Exercise 5: Burpees – 8 to 10 reps
Exercise 6: Side planks – 30 seconds on each side
Exercise 7: Jumping Jacks – 10 reps

Tough times call for tough people, but not everyone was created equal.

So what can you do to build and strengthen your resilience? Well, an excellent place to start would be by avoiding negative thought patterns, negative news articles and triggers that lead to an unhealthy state of mind and cause anxiety or unnecessary panic. Worrying about the future won't change it, and as much as we like to control our destiny, some things are just not in our control and shouldn't leave you with sleepless nights. Remember, your Mental health is critical to focus on the things you can control and leave the rest to take its natural course.

By identifying your anxiety or depressive triggers, you will safeguard that you are well equipped to deal with them when they arise. And while you’ve got the chance, make time to rest and relax because before we know it, things will return to normal. If you feel overly anxious or highly depressed, a bit of reading might do you wonders. If you feel like reading interesting articles related to your mental health, click here to be redirected to our blog articles. Here we have covered a variety of subjects that’s sure to be very helpful and insightful.

If you don’t feel like reading, take our mental health quiz online, and who knows, you might discover something new about yourself.


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