Is Lockdown Taking It's Toll On Your Mental Health?
The Coronavirus pandemic is unlike anything else the majority of us have ever seen or experienced. When the news of the virus hit us early back in 2020, it was difficult to know what to make of the news and what exactly it would mean for each of us individually. Now a year on, we have witnessed the destruction it is capable of. Every one of us, regardless of our circumstances would have lost something in this last year due to the pandemic; a job, a loved one, our sense of freedom, connection to others, travel plans, sense of "normality"...
It is understandable that ten months after the first lockdown, and in the middle of the third, we may be feeling a little fed up of the impact Covid-19 is having on our lives.
While hope is on the horizon in the form of vaccinations, how can each of us do our best to stay hopeful, remain positive and stay resilient?
I have detailed a few key tips below to help you with just that;
What this really means will be dependant on you, but primarily, taking care of ourselves first is paramount to our wellbeing, Diet, exercise and sleep are essential basics so try to review these things if any are out of kilt, or you feel could do with some improvement. At the heart of self-care is ensuring you do not neglect your needs or constantly have these overshadowed by others. It may be that boundaries need to be put in place especially for those that are working from home, with either work colleagues, our significant others, even our children. Try to get in touch with your needs at this challenging time and make your voice heard if necessary.
Monitor Internal Language
While paying more attention to our internal selves, try tuning in more to your thoughts, At the end of the day our thoughts are powerful beings and they absolutely affect how we feel. If our thoughts are centered around fear of the unknown and uncertainty, we are going to feel anxious. Bring yourself back to the here and now and arm yourself with the facts around the situation. It isn’t about denying there are reasons to be worried, but it is about being balanced in your thinking. For example, instead of thinking "This pandemic is catastrophic" change it to "This is difficult, but I can cope".
Exposure to News and Social Media
Of course, it is important to keep informed, as I said above, arm yourself with the facts. However, monitor how much you are spending watching the news. Generally, the news will be centered on the loss, damage and destruction of this virus so reinforcement of this message over time will cause fear and panic. Social media can often have an agenda - to provoke, alarm and/or get a reaction so is not always the most reliable and considered sources of information. Take note of how much time you spend on these channels and reduce your interaction if possible.
What I Can/Cannot Control
When big things are happening around us, and the Coronavirus pandemic certainly feels like a big thing. It's important to center ourselves and remind us of what exactly is and isn't within our control. Currently, there is a lot of speculation on what other people are or are not doing and while that's important in a pandemic, it is not something we have any power over. Ensure that you are following guidance and advice as best you can, given your personal circumstances. Wash and sanitise hands, wear a facemask if you are able to and socially distance wherever possible - if you can follow those you are doing something essential to help in this pandemic. You are helping yourself, you are keeping others safe and you are contributing to keeping the virus under control.
Stay Connected and Reach Out!
For many of us, the hardest part of the last ten months has been the limited contact we've been able to have with colleagues, family, loved ones and friends. Not spending as much time with the people we like to be around will have an impact on our mental health, so it makes sense to try to keep in touch in other, safer ways. You may not be hosting the weekly Zoom quiz calls that started back in March, but you still need human connection. Ensure you are keeping up to date with the people you would usually speak with; start a WhatsApp group message for friends, family, colleagues, write letters, speak on the phone or just text someone you haven’t spoken to for a while.
If you are struggling in lockdown and have found life increasingly difficult under the restrictions, you are not alone. More people than ever are now reaching out for support. Counselling may be available through the NHS, your workplace, a charity or a private therapist, so please access whatever help is available to you.
Take care and stay safe,
Marie Finan Counselling, Counsellor and Psychotherapist in Cardiff, South Wales.