Updated: Jun 16, 2021
So we are STILL in a pandemic! I don't know about you but at first, dare I admit, that the pandemic was actually quite pleasant for me and my little family. Not seeing loved ones was really difficult and extra hard with having children, the thought of this scary illness was quite terrifying, the news was very scary to watch. But as the pandemic hit the UK it was one of the hottest springs on record and we as a family were forced to spend loads of time in our garden, doing lovely family things together, decorating, playing games and going for nice walks. My partner was stood down from work for a few months, my maternity leave ended and my part time teaching role was made redundant.
I am of course fully aware that many people did not have this same experience and we were both incredibly lucky and privileged to be in our situation, healthy, happy, food in our fridge and a roof over our heads.
Now that the days are shorter and nights longer, the longer term impacts of Covid 19 are coming to light, there's a chill in the air and lets be honest this whole thing is seriously dragging on!!
Covid 19 has changed the face of the world and many aspects of our lives and all that change is utterly exhausting. As people we expect change and we can cope with it in small doses, too much change all at once and generally we don't handle it well.
The latest data published by NHS Digital, showed mental health problems now account for four in 10 (41 per cent) of all sick notes signed by GPs during the pandemic. Clearly our mental health is being significantly affected.
What's Covid 19 doing to us psychologically?
Stress and anxiety
Regularly being in a state of high alert is really bad for our minds and bodies. Our fight or flight response is kicking in far too often during a pandemic and this is playing havoc with peoples mental and physical health.
Resulting in stress, anxiety, sleep problems, low mood and depression, palpitations, bladder and bowel disturbances, nausea and vomiting, indigestion and heart burn, amongst other things!
Isolation from loved ones, job loss, money troubles, constant stress/anxiety all mix together for a perfect breeding ground for depressive thoughts and low mood. And in some potentially suicidal tendencies.
Loss of independence, freedom, income, job, or loved ones. Loss for some of their health if they contract the illness itself and they may also struggle with its long term after effects.
At the anxiety, depression, loss, at politics and injustices, inequalities and pressures. Anger is a perfectly normal human emotion and nothing to be ashamed of. Many of us are feeling it right now, it's just important that we express it constructively and effectively.
What can you do to look after yourself mentally during a global pandemic?
Get moving. Regular exercise increases the feel good hormones in your brain and helps to counter act anxiety and depression.
Lose yourself fully in a creative passion. Bake, draw, paint, take pictures, colour, knit. Whatever it is that you enjoy doing, be fully in the moment and enjoy it.
Talking to others about how you feel really helps. This may have to be over the telephone or online thanks to social distancing measures but reach out if you are struggling.
Rest when you need to. Take some deep calming breaths, listen to your favourite calming piece of music or a meditation track on YouTube.
When you feel anxious or angry it can help to use grounding techniques to bring yourself back to the present. Simple deep breathing can help with this, listing out some names of items (such as 6 different supermarket names and 8 types of trees). You can also engage your senses by listing what you can hear, see, smell and touch around you. (Check out my blog on Anxiety for further grounding techniques.)
Seek professional help
If you need to, there is no shame in getting a support. It is ok not to be ok after all.
Are there any positives in a pandemic? - YES!! absolutely.
Many people now have a better work life balance.
Many have realised the importance of our key workers and some of our lowest paid job roles.
Look for the helpers! In any bad situation there are always people willing to step up and help others, there have been a large number of people doing some wonderful things to help others during the pandemic.
Lots of people have realised what their priorities really are- with family, pets and social interactions often being high on the list and materialistic things, long working hours and money being a lot lower on the list of priorities for many.
If they didn't before many people now have a clearer view of their political beliefs and are probably more likely to vote in the future.
Less travel means less pollution! The world recovered slightly from the damage we do as humans and the animals started to take over again.
Author: Gill Jackson of Gill Jackson Therapeutic Counselling, BA Hons Counselling, Diploma in Couples and Family Therapy, CIPD, SMACCPH
Bio: I am a Therapist/Psychotherapist and Accredited Mentor in private practice in the UK. Qualified since 2007. Working with adults, young adults and children. I specialise in Anxiety Disorders and Depression.
This article is not intended as a replacement for medical advice, if you are suffering from any physical or mental ill health please seek advice of your Doctor where necessary.