Covid-19 has meant the world had become riddled with mental health issues. The worldwide pandemic has changed our lives. Undeniably causing another health issue, this time with mental health. People are accepting a new normal for the foreseeable future.
Covid-19 and mental health.
There have been strict restrictions on what people can do in lockdown. Governments have instructed citizens to stay at home, work from home where possible, isolate from their loved ones, restrict trips to the supermarket and only exercise once a day.
Our lifestyles have changed, and with it comes uncertainty for people.
With media organisations covering wall-to-wall Covid-19 updates, trying to escape the news is impossible. Causing anxiety levels and feelings of fear to sky rocket.
A study from the Mental Health Foundation, reported that before lockdown, over one in five of the UK public felt panicked about Covid-19.
The emotional effects of lockdown are clear. The Mental Health Foundation found that the rate of loneliness for 18-24-year olds has increased by 24%.
According to psychologist Christina Carlisi, the majority of stress is from health-based anxieties. People are concerned for themselves and loved one, as people are bombarded by the media on latest death statistics.
Psychotherapist Gemma Saggers, discusses how the impact of grief will be at a high after the pandemic, as people were denied the right to say goodbye to loved ones.
How has isolation caused these issues?
Many people are used to lengthy commutes, demanding jobs and busy social lives. Now, they are being made and have been stopped in their tracks.
Gemma Saggers, says this time in isolation brings mental health to the forefront as people spend more time alone.
“people are starting to notice the spotlight effect, giving people more time to reconnect with themselves, notice their emotions… As a culture we are so desperate to fill our time and escape our mental health we’re being forced to slow down.”
Grace Smith, a 24-year-old South London teacher, resonates with this, giving her time to evaluate her thoughts.
“Covid-19 has been negative on my mental health because of the amount of uncertainty. However, positively it has made me slow down a minute to process things and control what I can.”
Human connection and mental health.
Self-isolation has caused feelings of loneliness among the public, as we lack social connections.
“Touch deprivation is a thing, as humans we need that skin to skin contact. A touch a hug. Loneliness can be really noticed if we don’t’ have the people around to talk to… we are not designed to be isolated.”, states Gemma.
Socialising gives a sense of purpose, having a positive impact on our mood.
How has lockdown affected the public?
Covid-19 is seriously impacting the global economy, affecting people’s finances.
23-year-old Megan Snow, newly unemployed, knows the emotional impacts of this.
“Covid-19 has taken my job as well and has stopped my income. I keep beating myself up about it, and I do feel guilty not doing anything.”
This is a common anxiety among the public as workers are furloughed, claiming self-employment grants or claiming universal credit, with reports of over one million people trying to claim.
Gemma, discusses how these anxieties are common.
“Job security, family. Core basic needs are causing people stress.”
Likewise, the changes in Grace’s profession means covid-19 brings new pressures.
“I am now responsible for the exam grades kids receive which is a big responsibility.”
What you can do to help
One way to boost mental health is to exercise. Physical activity can raise energy levels and relieve stress due the release of endorphins.
Personal trainer Laboni Zakaria, discusses the importance of staying active.
“Provides a sense of purpose… It will keep you mentally strong… Reading a lot of news will make you anxious exercising will take your mind off it.”
Likewise, Megan explains how nature has helped alleviate her stress.
“as soon as I go for a walk, I feel amazing afterwards. I think it’s being outside.”
Grace discusses how having an exercise routine makes her feel she has ‘achieved’ something. Additionally, she discusses how she has taken up activities that brought her joy as a child.
“Baking sweet treats is something I did when I was younger and I really enjoy it.”
Video-call your loved ones!
Technology means we can connect, a huge positive in these times. Seeing the faces of those you love can brighten your day.
Megan says “I have used facetime because it feels like I am with that person… I have two new baby nephews… seeing them grow has helped.”
Grace discusses what helps mental health.
Be kind to yourself!
It is easy to pressure ourselves to be productive. However, Gemma explains it is important we take time out for ourselves.
“we hold productivity to an unhealthy standard… Create some boundaries and accountability while giving yourself the self-love you need.”