7 tips to stay sane while living in Nigeria | A psychotherapist’s guide

Mental health

Restless and tense. A sense of impending danger or doom. Difficulty controlling worry. A strong urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety. These are some of the symptoms of anxiety disorder, and they are also feelings Nigerians of all walks of life, ethnicity and creed are familiar with in recent times.

There is rising mass anxiety in Nigeria occasioned by the widespread instability of security, economy and social security.

When Senator Smart Adeyemi said on the floor of the senate on Tuesday, “More than ever before in the history of our nation, this is the worst instability we are facing. In fact this is worse than the civil war,” it was not a turn of phrase, it was vocalisation of the collective feelings of Nigerians.

As with all things governance-related, there is little many of us can do beyond agitating on social media, and putting pressure on our representatives for the politically involved.

The direct implication of this rising uncertainty on our wellbeing, both physical and mental, is however something we have within our control to deal with.

We spoke to the founder of N.d.i.d.i, a private psychotherapy practice in Lagos, Nigeria, Amanda Ihimebiri about how Nigerians can better manage their wellbeing in these trying times.

Here are 7 tips on how to stay sane while living in Nigeria

  1. Take care of your physical, mental and emotional health

You can start therapy, go for counselling and make sure you are eating well, resting well and exercising. Your overall well-being depends on a well-rounded approach to healthcare.

  1. Limit your exposure to negative news

This a tricky one because there is a lot of it going around at the moment. The trick is to control how much of it you’re consuming daily.

Your mind, like a shock absorber, can only bear so much pressure. Don’t overstretch it.

  1. Create your own positive news

Easy access to information means we are often caught in the vicious cycle of stumbling upon bad news, feeling horrible, and seeking out positive news on the same platforms in hopes of finding a balance.

Instead of looking for others to bring you positive news, how about you go out there and create one?

By being kind to people

There is an unassailable truism to what singer Lady Gaga said about the effect of kindness on the person who extends it, “I’ve been searching for ways to heal myself, and I’ve found that kindness is the best way.”

There is healing in kindness.

  1. Educate yourself on the history of Nigeria

Knowledge is powerful. Often the excessive panic we experience about the state of the nation comes from an exaggerated sense of danger because we don’t know or we forget what we come from to our present state.

Things are undeniably bad, but sometimes when you look at the bigger picture you can see a pattern of micro-improvements over time.

It is vital to learn about our history as a people and our political history, that way we can ensure we are not repeating the same mistakes.

  1. Go beyond the media

There is so much you can learn from finding out what independent thinkers are saying about the current situation and the way forward.

Go out there and seek more information so you can make informed decisions as a citizen.

  1. Get involved in grassroots politics. Or don’t.

Grassroots politics is where your voice matters. If you’re keen, you can organise to put pressure on your representative. Where your safety isn’t threatened, get involved in who contests for what office and is elected to what office.

Your safety should lead the way. Trust your intuition.

7. Be the Nigerian you’re looking out for other Nigerians to be

Set the example of the kind of Nigerian you want to see other Nigerians become. You may become an outlier because of this, as everyone around you appears to be comfortable breaking the rules, but stick to it.

Be the good person that follows the rules and respects the rights of fellow citizens.

Ms Ihimebiri believes that if we all make the effort to practice these intentionally, we can make a change in Nigeria and most importantly create a sense of hope in ourselves.

It is worth giving a shot.

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