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Sleep? In a Panini(Pandemic)???

Hindsight is 2020? All I can say is I’m glad 2020 is now in my rearview. And yet, COVID 19 is still here. Living through historical events is not nearly as exciting as the history books made them seem. Numerous sources have reported an increase in mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. Both of which can be manifested in changes in sleep patterns. How are you coping? Are you sleeping?

 Many are turning to alcohol and other drugs to soothe their anxiety. Others have buried themselves in work – on a sure path to burnout – as a distraction. Neither is healthy. “What should we do then? These are unprecedented times!”, I asked myself. Here are some tips I’ve found useful:

  1. If your lack of sleep is affecting your daily activities or if you have other symptoms of depression or anxiety, you may need professional help.
  2. Minimise pandemic content intake – social media has become a reservoir for every sad pandemic story, every angry pandemic story, every conspiracy pandemic story etc. It is overwhelming! Therefore, try to limit your exposure by limiting the time spent on social media. This is especially important at bedtime. Scrolling through doom and gloom right before closing your eyes? Not a good story.
  3. Set healthy boundaries – well-meaning friends may want to discuss pandemic-related information with you. If these conversations contribute to your anxiety, say so. Indicate to your friend that if possible, you would like your personal conversations to be pandemic-free. I have found that sharing cheerful, upbuilding content and creating a laughter-filled virtual community does wonders for my mood.
  4. Get moving, keep moving – Yes, this means exercise regularly (a habit I have yet to form) but it also means “do something with your life”, as my mother would say. Anything. Do a quick tidy of a space in the home. Learn a dance move. Draw a picture. Declutter your wardrobe. Try on your clothes. Do your make up. Change your hair(not the ba-yang). Read a captivating book. Cook something new. Create. The possibilities are endless. You will feel accomplished and tired. The sleep will come.
  5. Don’t ignore the bad feelings – The sadness, confusion, anger and worry are all normal reactions to a global pandemic. Especially if you have been personally affected in major ways, such as, loss of a loved one or loss of a job or symptoms of long covid. Ignoring how it makes you feel and pressing on is like putting a band-aid over an open fracture. (Haha, iykyk) But truly, it can make the situation so much worse. What’s brewing beneath the façade will spread and cause a septic mental space. Instead, explore the bad feelings but don’t dwell. Is your emotion reasonable? [Yes, it is.] Can you do something about it? Is something being done about it? Is there any hope? [Yes, there is.] Express how you feel in a safe space – a journal, a friend, a professional.
  6. Feel AND express gratitude – So many things are going wrong. But what things are going right? Focus on these things. Journal about them or say them out loud to a partner or friend. This repeated self-assurance that you’re ok can really go a long way in maintaining good mental health and reduce worrying at nights when you should be sleeping.

Good, healthy sleep can be a healing salve in these distressing times. If you have any other tips on improving sleeping habits in this here panini (pandemic), let me know in the comments.

I’ll catch you next time on Sleep – with Shem, Platonically! Be kind to yourself. And be safe!

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One thought on “Sleep? In a Panini(Pandemic)???

  1. So important to deal with the bad feelings. Now more than ever we have been forced to think about mental health in a different light.

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