The international pandemic of COVID-19 has dramatically impacted our society and individual lives. Numerous businesses are furloughing their workers and others close completely, all while lockdowns continue with the widespread worry that cases, represented by the R number, will spike again.
History has shown us that mental health issues rise alongside major events. In the years following the 2008 financial crisis, cases of suicide rose dramatically, believed to be a result of resulting unemployment and debt among other factors that then lead to depression. At the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak and the government’s lockdown, we quickly saw the impact these events had upon mental health. If the economic downturn of this pandemic is similar to that of 2008, we are predicted to see half a million additional cases of mental illness.
Alongside financial and health concerns, there is also the effect of isolation upon our mental health. Even without the need to shield ourselves at home, most people within the UK are currently expected to stay home, socially distancing and remaining isolated from their friends and loved ones. A lack of contact with others has a well-documented and detrimental effect on our wellbeing. The ongoing and long term effects of such an extended period of lockdown are yet to be established.
How to Find Balance
Maintaining your mental health during this period is difficult and, foremost, it is important to remember that there is no shame in admitting I’m not okay.
To help improve your wellbeing, consider the following.
Find and Maintain Connections
One of the most significant limitations of the lockdown is that upon socialisation. To remedy the virus, we must prevent it from spreading. However, this minimises the contact we have with one another, as well as the activities we might usually participate in.
While there are only a few options, where possible it is important to maintain social contact. Phone calls, video conversations, and online chats are effective ways to keep you and your peers connected. Hosting events, such as simultaneous movie streams or online quizzes are great ways to have fun together safely.
Limit Your News Consumption
While news sources are an effective way to distribute information, they are also detrimental to our mental wellbeing if consumed too much. Scrutinising the exact number of cases and reading about the trouble unfolding leads to anxiety and distress. There is also the additional concern of misinformation.
Regulate your time spent hearing and reading the news, as well as your time discussing the pandemic with friends and family. Designating certain periods of time to check the news, as well as trustworthy sources, is a positive step in maintaining balance.
Consider Your Body
Dramatic changes in our schedule affect our physicality. Staying at home for extended periods prevents us from getting our usual exercise and can also affect our sleeping patterns. If an effort is not made to eat and sleep well while remaining active, our physical health with suffer then affecting our mental health too.
For the sake of your mental health, it is important to consider your diet and routine, as well as keeping a regular sleep schedule. Make sure you also engage in time outside, such as walking or running, as your body uses this time to set its circadian rhythm.
There are numerous ways in which our mental health might be affected during this time and, as new studies are being performed each week, we are only scratching the surface of COVID-19’s impact.
If you have any concerns about your mental health, would like to talk about or arrange a consultation in Bristol, I can be reached here.