Fight your fears

Mental health expert and life coach Dave Knight suggests some ways to cope with depression and worry linked to the Covid-19 pandemic

When we have unwanted experiences of feeling down – really sad, alone, being full of worry and not knowing what to do about it – it can be a scary place to be. Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be a way out of this situation and we might feel like we are the only one experiencing these feelings.

The Covid-19 pandemic appears to have led to a massive shift in the way that we might be experiencing the world around us; we’ve all experienced this strange time differently, as we do with every other life event. Some have experienced fear and panic. Some have carried on with their normal lives. Some have experienced worry about the future. In whatever way we have experienced this period of time, it is normal. It is normal based on how we are making sense of the world around us in that moment. Here are three tips for coping with our experiences of depressed mood and worry related to Covid-19:

Tip 1
Use routine as a pillar of your overall wellbeing

When we are depressed, we are thinking a lot – we procrastinate; we struggle to make decisions and are preoccupied. It’s such a challenge. With a routine, it is something we don’t have to think about. It reduces our thinking in the present as it is ‘just what we do’. At the same time, it will reduce the time we are spending thinking about our unwanted feelings. Using REPS as an acronym will be useful to help create a routine:

  • What is Realistic for us to do?
  • Excitement/Enjoyment is a crucial factor. With this, there is a higher likelihood we will do it and then keep it up.
  • Protected time – can we fit other things around it?
  • Social element – this is important for some, but not to others.

What is the first step you could make towards creating a routine?

Tip 2
Accept the feelings and be kind to yourself

Any feeling that we experience is normal. As a human being we are meant to feel sad, happy, fearful, excited and anxious amongst other things. Quite often, being fearful of the experience can make it worse and leave you thinking:

‘I don’t want to feel like this’.

Does that sound familiar?

If you’re feeling depressed, it can be very easy to put pressure on yourself to feel a different way, which makes our feelings worse. This is punishing ourselves and, metaphorically speaking, is like putting extra rocks in our rucksack to carry around. There is no need to burden ourselves. Acceptance of our own feelings is key. If we are all able to do that, we’re far more likely to be accepting of others, therefore making a conversation regarding our feelings a completely normal conversation. Our feelings are not fixed; they will pass. Interestingly, they may well pass whether the Covid-19 pandemic is there or not.

Tip 3
Realise you’re not alone, and share

It might seem like you’re alone and the only one feeling down, sad, scared or worried. The spread of Covid-19 in itself has caused the biggest shift in our life patterns for generations upon generations and we might feel like we are extremely vulnerable. Whilst we can’t control the danger of the virus itself, we do have more control than we think over how we take care of ourselves in relation to it.

If we follow the latest informed guidance on what we should and shouldn’t be doing, this is a great place to start. We can also share our experiences with people we trust – whether that be our partners, extended family, friends, a professional or a next door neighbour.

We might find that our conversations are more normal than we think and realise we’re not as alone as we thought we were.

To find out more about Dave Knight and his coaching packages please visit www.sundaysettler.com/coaching/

Supplement support

“Depression and anxiety are areas I work with often in my clinic,” says registered nutritional therapist Michaella Mazzoni. “I have found that people usually respond well to supplement support when we consider how our body creates chemicals like serotonin and dopamine.

Serotonin or the ‘happy hormone’ needs certain nutrients to be created: magnesium, B6 and zinc. So, supplementing with these co-factor nutrients can be really helpful to support the nervous system. At the bottom of the serotonin production line is the amino acid tryptophan (found in turkey) which can be taken in supplement form. An alternative is 5HTP which is slightly higher up in the production line. However, it is important to note that as 5HTP and tryptophan eventually get converted to serotonin, it is not safe to take these while on SSRI/antidepressant medication.

The other pathway to consider, more in relation to anxiety and/or worries, is the dopamine pathway. Although it has the same co-factors as serotonin, the ingredients at the bottom are different. Instead, the body uses something called theanine which you can supplement alongside the co-factors B6, magnesium and zinc.

Other areas to consider when selecting supplements to support mental health include the gut, adrenals and reproductive hormone function. Supporting the gut (where a large amount of serotonin is made) is important; a high-quality probiotic with at least 10 billion bacteria per capsule is a good place to start.”

Michaella Mazzoni, Registered NT, DipCNM mBANT CNHC reg, offers private nutrition consultations as well as video consultations. Call 07786 841 333 or visit www.michaellamazzoninutrition.com

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