Managing personal wellbeing important during pandemic - Dr Breda Friel
In Mental Health Awareness Week, a Donegal psychotherapist has stressed the importance of managing personal wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking to Donegal Live, Dr Breda Friel, a psychotherapist and trauma specialist, said there were ways of managing wellbeing during this “period of uncertainty.”
An academic and researcher based at Ulster University, Magee, Dr Friel added: “It is important we understand our reactions in crisis. Our definition of a crisis is any ‘one-of’ event or series of events that impacts on us and can overwhelm our coping skills.
“A sudden event can be shocking and frightening and an event such as the current COVID-19 can leave us fearful.
“As humans, we like certainty and can react to times of uncertainty with worry and anxiousness. The result can be stress, sleep interruptions, overthinking, a lot of ‘what if’ pondering.
“Overthinking and worry are the outcomes of the mind trying to make sense of an episode that seems nonsensical, bizarre, and surreal, words widely used by people recently when discussing the current COVID-19 situation,” said Dr Friel.
Reassuringly, Dr Friel said there were ways we could manage our wellbeing as we “navigate this period of uncertainty.”
She said: “Most importantly is adhering to the guidelines issued by state and government agencies.
“In addition, we can self-support by managing our diet and exercise, avoiding using negative ways of coping such as alcohol or other substances.
“There are many groups and organisations offering online programmes to support fitness and physical, emotional and mental health.
“There are simple steps we can use to manage the wandering mind. As you read this, pause, and notice your breathing, pay attention to your hands, feet, or a sound at this moment. Each time we find the thought wandering, pull the attention into the moment, simply by noticing what is happening right now,” said Dr Friel.
Additional ways of reducing stress and managing the worrying mind can also be found through sites such as the Inishowen Mindfulness Centre on Facebook.
Dr Friel said: “There are a wide range of supports available across a range of online platforms, and check out other community sites such as www.insightinishowen.com.
“Keeping simple goals in our plan for every day helps create a sense of hope and accomplishment as we navigate through this period of change.
“This develops self-support and creates a feeling of strength and resilience for individuals and those around us.
“Donegal Live readers are welcome to check out the link to this guide to Psychological First Aid, a course which I have written: https://eu-lti.bbcollab.com/collab/ui/session/playback.” concluded Dr Friel.
Dr Friel also offers critical incident management and response services to a range of organisations and state bodies.
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