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Advice from a psychologist to face confinement: «Covering fear and anxiety is not the solution»

11 2020 April - 03: 00

Our lives have taken a radical turn since the COVID-19 pandemic declared a State of Alarm and we were forced to change our lives. Confined at home with children, family or alone, 'teleworking' or without work, with uncertainty about the economy and with fear of being infected, the impact on our mental health is very strong.

We spoke with the psychologist Elena Mallol, to give us advice on how to deal with this situation and combat fears, anxiety and stress that it may cause us.

From motivation to boredom and despair, this is how our attitude has changed because, according to the psychologist, "over the days, anxiety increases and the lack of habit of living with our children, parents or partner for so long , it makes us go to less healthy habits ”.

Don't think about the future, you're not in control

The situation is very complete but if we live in an uncertain future, we lose control of the situation, while if we focus on living in the present and accepting the situation, we can go from anxiety to tranquility.

We are constantly thinking about what we would be doing right now if there was not a pandemic. What do we achieve with this thought? Just get frustrated and pound ourselves thinking about things that are not possible. "Why don't we think about what can be done? We can do many things at home but we live in a society that pushes us to be productive and confinement is teaching us that no one is better than anyone and that everything in life is not producing, "explains Elena.

Don't worry, prepare flexible routines

Whether you are teleworking or not, it is important that we create flexible routines "that allow us to do life from before but at home." If you like doing sports, we live in a super connected world and we can find live classes on the Internet that can motivate us more, as Elena Mallol tells us. Or for any other hobby, we now have many options on our screens.

All emotions are important: externalize them

“Lately I have realized that there are many people who do not allow themselves to cry, to be ill, to externalize what they feel, especially I have seen it in women, and if they do, it is because they cannot contain themselves and they explode, sometimes in front of children and that makes us more nervous but nothing happens, we can explain what has happened and they will understand it ”, Mallol explains.

We should not worry if these situations occur since "it is normal for us to collapse and it is important to know that all emotions are necessary and must be expressed," says the psychologist. Knowing how to recognize that they are temporary and that everything will pass is essential to maintain a clear, positive and optimistic mind.

Anxiety about eating: watch out for alcohol and sugar

When we are nervous, eating can be a way to inhibit reality. "If we are nervous, we have a beer and that is how it goes or we swell with chocolate and we are happier." Chocolate, for example, contains tryptophan and increases serotonin (hormone of happiness), but these binge eating can have the opposite effect. As advice Mallol recommends that: "Before you take that bag of potatoes, that chocolate bar or the gin and tonic, ask yourself, what do I want to get away from?"

Products with a lot of sugar are triumphing these days in supermarkets and you are right, although the effects are not as expected: “They are very addictive products, for example sugar increases our mood chemically but momentarily, or beer and wine that is a way to disinhibit us from reality ”. Using these products, even if they can relax us at the moment, is counterproductive because when their effect passes, we give ourselves a strong shock to reality.

For anxiety, take three deep breaths

In general, these days we live moments of great tension and perhaps anxiety episodes that you have never had can appear. In this situation, the psychologist recommends that we take three deep breaths. “We inhale through the nose and exhale slowly through the nose or through the mouth. This will allow us to oxygenate the brain and connect with ourselves to relax. ”

What to do if we have a sick family member

In addition to confinement, there are people who are going through very difficult situations because they have their loved ones admitted to the hospital by COVID-19 and without being able to see them. Faced with this situation, Elena Mallol explains to us that "we have to try to focus on the memories of those people, get the image of when they were well because the mind will unconsciously lead us to ask ourselves how it will be happening and that generates more suffering about a situation of the one that we don't have the control ”.

Mortifying yourself is not the solution, but it can help us to be calmer, to be aware that by staying at home we are helping our loved one to recover soon and not collapse the health system any more.

The psychological consequences of this situation worries the world of psychology: "Psychologists continue to telework because the situation is very critical, we are not used to living in confinement but also, many people are dying without their families being able to say goodbye, the problems economic problems are affecting families ... It is an unprecedented situation. ” Thus ends the telephone interview with Elena Mallol, a sector also at the foot of the canyon now more than ever to help us.

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