Covid-19 and Mental Health
Preliminary findings from a current survey on stress and resilience in the face of COVID-19 (sample of 276 respondents) indicate that an estimated 88% of respondents felt nervous and stressed in the past month; 95% have expressed worry about the ongoing impacts of COVID-19; and 88% of respondents indicated that they are very worried about the economy. With this is mind we take a closer look at the individual causes of stress and the effects they are having on mental health.
Since the Government imposed lockdown began on the 23rd March life in the UK has changed dramatically and people have found themselves alone for long periods of time.
Millions of people, young and old, have found themselves isolating on their own and loneliness can be difficult to deal with. We are social creatures and not getting our usual fill of social interaction can have a negative impact on our mental health, with some research showing direct links between loneliness and depression, anxiety, sleeping problems, increased stress and more.
With so many businesses being forced to close, many people have found themselves out of work or furloughed and therefore living on a reduced income. However, bills still need to be paid and shopping still needs to be bought. With the whole household, in some cases at home, you could find these bills actually increase during this time.
There is also the fear of the unknown financial outlook. How long will COVID-19 last? When will I be able to get back to work from furlough, find a new job, work at full pay again? And, will there even be a job to return to? People are struggling with a lack of clarity and certainty as to if and when this will all end, and life can start getting back to some kind of normal.
With the lockdown measures restricting our movements and isolating us from our friends and extended family, we are likely to get tetchy, annoyed or just plain angry with others in our household at times. Recognising that this is hard for us all and being able to talk about what is upsetting us or getting us down is important. Listening to your partner or friends will help you to find a solution.
Children and young people are also experiencing significant changes and uncertainties, and may be feeling sad, or angry, cross or short tempered. It is important to allow them to express their emotions, and to listen to their concerns.
We should all bear in mind that for some people work/school was actually a safe place to get away from stressful situations at home. These people are particularly vulnerable at this time.
Social Media/News Overload
During the coronavirus lockdown in particular, we crave forms of interaction that best replicate face-to-face and intimate contact. Which is why we are drawn towards social media as a way to keep in touch with our loved ones. However, social media can be full of opinions, judgements and fake news that aren’t actually helpful at this time. News feeds can also feel overwhelming; the never-ending flow of bad news and government bashing, can create or escalate feelings of stress and anxiety.
It’s important to have some time away from social media and restrict your news intake, try distracting yourself with other activities you enjoy.
You may have found yourself working from home for the first time ever. You may well be enjoying it, it certainly suits some personality types more than others but for a lot people, they are finding it difficult for many reasons; they may not have a space to work, they might find it hard to be productive or they may just miss their work colleagues and the office environment they are used to. All this can cause feelings of stress and anxiety.
Those used to working from home in their job they may previously have found the peace and quiet productive, giving them the opportunity to make plans or finish their to do list.
However, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, remote working has taken on a whole new meaning. Far from being a haven of peace and quiet, isolation measures and the closure of the nation’s schools has created a challenging environment for the UK’s workforce, in which childcare and general family life is balanced with the pressure of productivity. Now in some cases parents are trying to work from home full time, home-school their children, provide three healthy meals a day, clean the house and exercise whilst looking after everyone’s mental health!
Not being able to exercise
Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment. It relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances well-being through the release of endorphins. But what if you must completely self-isolate for medical reason? Or you have a disability that stops you from taking exercise or you are a single parent and you can’t ask anyone to watch your child whilst you go out for a run or walk? Being cooped up in the house 24hr a day will certainly add to your stress levels and feelings of anxiety.
Our next blog will look at how you can counteract some of these mental health hurdles.
Sources: BMJ, HR Grapevine, BBC News, Psychology Today, the Metro