Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 9 July 2020

'I'm feeling anxious': Riz Ahmed holds online therapy session to share tips for coping during pandemic

The actor learnt about cognitive behaviour therapy in a live-stream with his psychiatrist brother

Riz Ahmed chatted to his brother, Dr Kamran Ahmed, about anxiety in a live-stream. AFP
Riz Ahmed chatted to his brother, Dr Kamran Ahmed, about anxiety in a live-stream. AFP

He may not be making any movies as the coronavirus pandemic shuts down film sets around the world, but Riz Ahmed is putting his time at home to good use.

The Emmy-winning actor has taken part in a number of moral-boosting initiatives on his social media as many around the world stay home in a bid to stem the spread of Covid-19, hosting live chats with the likes of poet Rupi Kaur and journalist Bilal Qureshi.

Held under the banner #TheLongLockdown, The Night Of star tackles everything from identity and politics to entertainment in the digital discussions – and, for his latest, he's putting the importance of mental health in the spotlight.

The actor, 37, held an online therapy session with psychiatrist Dr Kamran Ahmed – who happens to be his brother – to discuss confronting anxiety during the pandemic.

The live-stream was held on April 17, but Riz Ahmed uploaded a section of the chat to his social media this weekend for followers who may have missed the discussion as it happened.

"Some great tips here, take a look and pass it on if you think someone would find it helpful," he captioned the clip.

In the video, the doctor taught the Venom star about the practice of cognitive behaviour therapy, a practical treatment designed to improve mental health.

"The idea is that your thoughts, mood and behaviour are all linked," Kamran Ahmed said.

"So, if you have a negative thought, then it can affect your mood and make you feel down, and if you’re behaving in a way that is likely to affect your mood. That’s going to make you feel down and will lead to problems, as well. You can change your thoughts and behaviours to change your mood."

The Rogue One: A Star Wars Story actor admitted he had been feeling anxious, and worked through a CBT session with his brother.

"So there’s thoughts, behaviour, feelings ... and in order to change our behaviour, we can address some of our underlying thoughts, that’s called CBT, and that’s one of the way we can challenge anxiety," summarised Riz Ahmed.

"So, it's good to not let it get out of control. Anxiety can create panic attacks, you can pass anxiety on to other people like a virus."

The actor and rapper revealed earlier this month that the forced pause on his work schedule had given him time to address his health, both inner and outer.

"I think quarantine is forcing me to make time for my mental health, my physical health, my connection to friends, quiet time, in a way that I never prioritised before," he told W magazine. "For the first time in my life, my schedule is about balance, not about maximising productivity and hustle."

Updated: May 24, 2020 02:50 PM

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