Are your COVID-19 fears keeping you awake? Our expert shares some helpful tips

I think we can all agree that the last couple of weeks have resulted in an unexpected mix of feelings for many of us – anxiety, as well as stress, anger and then also periods of calm (or at least trying to convince yourself that things are fine). As this is quite a unique situation, it is quite normal for us all to feel overwhelmed and to be concerned for your safety and that of the people you care about.

The reality is that we all deal with these situations differently. Some of us like to prepare, others want to keep to themselves and others want as much information as possible. The stress can cause us to change our behaviour, eat differently and increase our alcohol and tobacco. It also has a great impact on our sleep.

Remember these things to support and practise self-care:

  • Take breaks from watching, reading and listening to the news and social media. Constantly taking in news about the pandemic can be distressing.
  • Take care of yourself by eating healthy balanced meals, exercising and getting enough sleep.
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco use.
  • Try distracting activities like gardening, reading fiction or motivational/devotional books, or simply try relaxing with a good old series on your TV or device.
  • Talk to your loved ones about your concerns.

Man asleep on couch with book on face

Gently consider these points to support your children:

  • Take time to talk to them about COVID-19, about the value of social distancing to keep healthy, and be sure to share valid facts and show them how they can protect themselves. Answer all their questions with facts.
  • Make sure they know it is normal to feel uneasy or worried, but also share with them how you feel and cope with your own stress and concerns.
  • Limit your family’s exposure to news and social media.
  • Whether there are online classes or not, try to keep to a normal routine with time for learning, relaxing and fun.
  • Kids learn from us and what we do. Make sure to model proper behaviour by exercising, eating well and getting enough sleep.

Some helpful tips to improve your health through sleep:

  • Keep hydrated and drink lots of water.
  • Keep a healthy diet and limit sugar and caffeine, especially after 1 pm.
  • Limit your consumption of alcohol. Even though it can help you to fall asleep and make you feel like it is helping, the quality of sleep you receive after drinking is not worth that temporary lull of the senses.
  • Keep to regular bedtimes, ensuring these are not too late.
  • Make time for exercise.
  • Try to avoid screen time about one hour before you go to bed.
  • Try relaxing activities as part of your bedtime routine such as meditating, yoga, detox baths or light reading.

Black and white picture of sleeping preschooler

Some helpful tips to improve your child’s health through sleep:

  • Keep them hydrated and offer them lots of water.
  • Make time for outside play and exercise. Children need to get fresh air and sun.
  • Keep to a healthy diet and limit sugar and avoid caffeine.
  • Keep to regular night-time routines that include a bedtime that’s not too late.
  • Limit screen time to only two hours before bedtime.
  • Include relaxing activities, such as reading or breathing techniques as part of their bedtime routine.
  • Keep to regular nap times and nap-time routines for the younger ones.

By Jolandi Becker – MD Good Night.