Treat lockdown like a kind of griefPublished on 29 May 2020
Why good sleep is the first step toward boosting your wellbeing
The closest thing we can compare the “overwhelming jumble of emotions” that is lockdown to, is grief, according to Jessica McGawley, Consulting Psychologist and Founder of Dallington Associates, a London-based business taking care of the needs of students aged 16-24 while they are studying in the UK. Sleep, she says, is the best medicine.
“Denial, optimism, anger, sadness, acceptance have all been used to describe the whirlwind of conflicting emotions people have felt during lockdown”, said Jess, speaking at a recent webinar in the Stonehage Fleming Next Generation ‘2020 – WTF?’ series.
“Reactions to the crisis vary from person to person but generally, these feelings are not experienced in any sort of linear order”, said Jessica. “The best way to deal with them is to try and understand your emotions. They aren’t just ‘feelings’. They are made of three key elements – subjective experience, physiological response and behavioural response.”
And if you are struggling with negative thoughts and emotions, there are physical things you can do to reclaim a sense of control, according to Jessica, who sites sleeping as the most important.
“Poor sleep can have several causes. One is a lack of routine or purpose”, she said. “Make sure you have a reason to get up in the morning - whether that’s a ten minute call with a friend or some form of exercise.”
Access to natural light, according to Jessica, will also assist our natural sleep patterns. “Exposure to natural light and vitamin D boosts us full of the ‘happy’ chemical serotonin and rids us of melatonin - the ‘sleepy’ chemical.”
Reduced physical activity is another enemy of sleep, said Jessica. “Exercise is the best, cheapest and quickest antidepressant under the sun. It will instantly fill you with dopamine and make you feel better, aiding sleep”, she added.
“Many of us are feeling out of control and we are yet to know what our new normal will look like,” said Jessica. “What we can control is our decisions and our actions. Be curious about your emotions and compassionate with yourself,” she said. “If you can improve just one aspect of your physiological health make it sleep - your mind will thank you”.