Filipina psychologist suggests ways to reduce anxiety and upkeep mental health

As malls, restaurants and other places of business begin to re-open throughout the U.S., people are also taking the opportunity to finally leave their homes and adapt to a new normal.

States were put under shelter-in-place orders for at least two months — and many Americans found it challenging to live under these conditions that were meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Filipina Dr. Jeannie Celestial is a licensed and practicing psychologist.

She said anxiety levels rose amid the lockdown.

“It’s just an overall lifestyle change. And when we first heard about it we were thinking, oh it’ll be a couple weeks, a few weeks, now it’s a couple months… and now we don’t know when the end will be. So there’s a lot of unknowns which further heightens people’s anxiety.”

Celestial explained that anxiety is a chemical reaction that our body produces when it learns that there is something out there that can harm us.

“When our fear pathways are activated, we may be on the lookout for danger. We might be easily startled. Or if someone coughs or comes within six feet of us, so we may be on edge and that’s part of our survival instinct.”

Celestial said there are ways to combat anxiety during lockdown — such as picking up new hobbies, like cooking and baking, getting creative when it comes to socializing, like Zoom birthday parties; taking advantage of technology, and exercising.

“To disclose a little about my life I’ve been working from home. My husband has been watching my daughter full time. Right when I get off work I try to take her out to an open space where there’s open air. We wear masks and we definitely practice social distancing.”

“When you’re under stress your brain will crave salt, sweets, and fats because it’s in survival mode. So I encourage folks to pay attention to their cravings and try to eat whole foods, leafy greens, healthy food.”

Finally, celestial said that one of the most important things you can do amid the lockdown is to regularly check in on your family and friends, whether it be through Zoom or a phone call — and keep that human connection strong especially during tough times.

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