Just a few months ago we had never even heard of COVID-19 and now our lives have been changed forever, as we try to adjust to the new normal.
We’ve all been impacted by this deadly virus, from not being able to see our loved one, elderly people suffering isolation and loneliness, eradication of routines, and even the closure of our towns and cities.
As we all know there’s plenty of advice about how to take care of ourselves physically, such as washing hands regularly and distancing but one, perhaps hidden, aspect of the virus that hasn’t hit the headlines is the effect on our mental health.
Recent studies have shown that during the pandemic, there has been a significant increase in people seeking help for issues such as mood disorders, mania, depression, and episodes of psychosis.
Surprisingly the people who have been hit hardest are young men between the ages of 18 – 25 from feelings of isolation and lethargy to suicidal thoughts. Also, the NHS has seen a steep rise in autistic children under 16 being admitted to psychiatric units as they simply cannot process or cope with the upheaval in their lives.
Symptoms of anxiety, depression have also hit the working population compounded by financial worries as more and more people have lost their income streams or been furloughed.
We are in unprecedented times and there is no single magic bullet to make our lives resort back to where they were. However, there are things you can do to help your mental health as we come out of lockdown.
Set Yourself a Daily Mini-Challenge
You can try and set yourself a daily mini-challenge. This could be as simple as a 20-minute walk or a virtual trip to the shops. The idea is to keep yourself engaged while maintaining social distancing protocols.
If you’ve always been an avid traveler, it’s time to create new routines and develop safer interests. Our brain needs some sort of predictable activity that can help keep our mind calm.
Sleep on time and take some time out from your routine to go out (while following all SOPs of course) to give your brain the change it deserves.
Don’t Judge Yourself
Don’t overthink how well other people are doing – this is about YOU!
We know some people are doing better than others. But not all individuals are created alike. We all are different with varying strengths and weaknesses. It’s absolutely okay if you’re currently finding it difficult to cope with the COVID challenges.
You might need some extra time to build a strategy. But believe us, you’re doing great. And, you’ll eventually learn to handle the situation.
Check the Media Once Per Day
By now, you have heard this advice many times. But we’re going to repeat it again as it is important.
While it may be tempting to keep yourself updated with recent news and information, watching the news or scrolling social media makes us even more anxious and depressed.
It’s important to keep your media exposure limited during these challenging times as overexposure may result in post-traumatic stress disorder.
Do not check your newsfeed more than twice a day. Also, be very sensible about sharing COVID news with your friends and family.
Sadly, many TV channels overexaggerate pandemic news. This is why it’s also important to choose your news resources carefully. Instead of checking every other channel, try to stick to the reliable ones only.
Find a ‘Support Buddy’
You need a friend or a support buddy, who you could contact when you’re feeling stressed or anxious.
So stay in touch with your loyal friends and family members during this tough time. It’s okay if you want to shed light on the current situation occasionally, but try to keep your focus on other productive and positive things.
Look after Your Physical and Mental Health
There is nothing more important than keeping yourself both physically as well as mentally fit during this time. Try and eat healthily and aim for at least 7 hours of sleep.
A healthy and nutritious diet not only helps strengthen our immune system but also helps our mood. Avoid carbs, starch, and sugary foods. Try to consume as many green and leafy vegetables as you can.
Drink plenty of water and keep yourself busy with stuff you love to do.
We’re all going through tough times. But remember, this too shall pass. All we need to do is to keep our faith alive and do whatever in our capacity to keep ourselves and others around us safe.
For further help, you can also get in touch with these online support groups.
Check Birmingham Mental Health Trust website here
Check Birmingham Samaritan’s website here