Some Thoughts On Mental Health During The Pandemic
Mental health during a pandemic
The 2020 coronavirus pandemic has completely changed our way of living and working at our chiropractic clinic in Cheltenham. We now wear full PPE, limit our patient numbers, and complete a strict Covid-19 screening process – and that’s just some of the measures we have taken. Whether you are working from home and attempting to home-school your children while you make a conference call, or you have been shielding yourself and have not been able to see friends and family for 12 weeks, it has not been easy for anyone.
The Office of National Statistics reports that 53% of people surveyed felt that the coronavirus pandemic was affecting their wellbeing. Many people report high levels of stress and anxiety. Fortunately, modern technology, smartphones and video messaging apps have allowed many families and friends to stay in contact whilst keeping their loved ones safe. As Lockdown restrictions ease and a new normal unfolds, what can we do to improve our well-being in the long-term?
Build a support network
Family and friends or neighbours and local support groups are integral to our wellbeing. This is especially true in moments of crisis or isolation, both of which have been a reality during this pandemic. Check in on friends and family whether via phone or, if safe to do so, a social distancing walk or garden visit. Just in case you get overzealous and want to be everybody’s friend – a sensible piece of advice: don’t spread yourself too thin, who are your true friends and family that are most supportive of you and that you want to have around you when you are most vulnerable? There, now you have your core network.
If you are struggling or feeling low, let someone know, allow yourself to be vulnerable, and be looked after. You would be surprised how opening up about difficulties can strengthen friendships and help you feel stronger. There are many great charities that support anyone whose mental health has been negatively affected.
Find the positive
When times are tough, the news can feel overwhelmingly negative and at times it’s almost impossible to see any positives. However, where terrible events take place, look for the helpers, look at the community spirit, maybe even start up a community organisation or volunteer. A simple way to get into a positive mindset is to think of three things that you are grateful for, do this daily.
Compliment other people on their hard work and achievements and don’t forget to do the same to yourself, give yourself a boost. Always be kind to yourself. When you are in a good mood, why not share the love? Send your friends or family a parcel of surprises, letterbox brownies, or even flowers. It’s a two-way street, look after your friends and family and they will look after you.
Sometimes when you are frantically looking after others, working long hours, or your job is emotionally or physically draining, it’s hard to ‘find the positive’ because frankly, you need to meet your basic needs: eat, shower, sleep, clean clothes and fresh air. Do the basics, refresh and refill, and don’t forget to lean on your friends and family if you need help. If you are feeling burnt out or overwhelmed and you work for a company: speak to your manager at work and look at taking a day off, and don’t worry, the cogs will keep turning.
If you are self-employed, think about the long-term, one day off could give you time to recover your strength and health and not have to take longer off without pay. According to the Mental Health Foundation, poor sleep is linked to physical problems such as a weakened immune system and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Take that day off and don’t feel guilty about it: you need it.
Divide and conquer
When working from home or if you are furloughed, it can feel like you don’t even know what day it is because your pre-Coronavirus routine and your world as you knew it has gone out the window. Maybe that is a good thing, time to start afresh. Or maybe you need to re-establish a routine that gives you a sense of security and certainty in a very uncertain world. Divide the day up: while the majority of the day may be work, studying, and looking after the family, make sure to block at least two hours out for exercise and leisure a day.
Exercise is essential, aside from the necessity to keep moving for our physical health, exercise can also release endorphins which make you feel good so no cutting corners on that one. If you struggle to fit in exercise, do it first thing then it is out of the way and you get a boost to start your day. Many parents working from home and home-schooling have enjoyed and done the daily Joe Wicks ‘PE with Joe’s workouts -– there are so many free workouts online so even if you can’t leave the house, you have a virtual Personal Trainer at your fingertips.
Try not to slump in front of the TV every day, instead try reading a book, doing a Zoom quiz with friends or dancing around the kitchen as you hone your baking skills! If you are addicted to your smartphone, try 30 mins of turning it off and turn your attention to something else. Create a garden, even if you live in a flat, grow your own herbs! Nothing more satisfying than eating your own homegrown veg.
As life slowly comes back to normal, hold onto the activities and people that helped you through the coronavirus pandemic and don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you are suffering from mental health issues or if you would like more information please speak to a mental health professional.
Free listening services
These services offer confidential advice from trained volunteers. You can talk about anything that’s troubling you, no matter how difficult:
- Call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for a reply within 24 hours
- Text “SHOUT” to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line, or text “YM” if you’re under 19