Our normal lives have been interrupted. With the lockdowns, quarantines and restrictions, it’s all a bit uncertain. Some of us have lost our jobs or been forced to work from home. No more meeting our friends down at the pub. We’re used to a smile and a wave from an acquaintance passing by, not a mask and social distancing. For these and more reasons, adverse mental health issues have become a consequence of the Covid-19 response.
A Feb. 2021 World Economic Forum article estimated that 1 in 3 adults are experiencing depression or anxiety due to Covid-19. It’s a high number but given current global circumstances, it’s not surprising. The added stressors and uncertainty aren’t to be underestimated. Covid and the subsequent lifestyle changes don’t have an official end date. Given that these new normals may persist, what can be done about our mental health?
The first thing that anyone experiencing mental health issues needs to know, is that you’re not alone. There is a whole network of healthcare professionals there for you. The one were all aware of is our GP, but your local pharmacists are also there and capable of giving you fantastic advice and referrals if you were to need it. Go in for a consult or book them online, ask for a referral and don’t feel stigmatized. If the issue is more urgent, the NHS supplies a list of 24hr hotlines here. Getting help is an important step toward wellness and regaining control over the situation.
Aside from professional help, there are some things you can do at home. Exercise is always a good place to start. In lockdown and quarantine our activity level is dramatically reduced. Exercise can give purpose, lead to endorphin release, improved blood flow and is a great distraction from current stressors. The NHS gives a list of 10 “stress busters” you can try at home here. Give it a go, change your routine and get out of the rut
We’ve all heard the expression, “you are what you eat.” Your daily diet can play a much larger role in your mental health than most people know. A 2017 mentalhealth.org.uk policy brief expounded on the benefits of healthy eating as it pertains to your mental health. There is clear evidence of a link between a balanced diet and fighting depression. Alcohol consumption, especially in excess is a detriment to our mental health. Sure, the immediate effects are enjoyable but the long term effects are not conducive to good mental health. It may seem that the sweets, treats and alcohol are comforting, but over time they are anything but.
In the end, most of us are experiencing the same thing. Reach out to each other. Support one another. Above all, don’t be afraid to get help. Be proactive in addressing any mental health issues that may arise from this current global crisis. Try changing up your routine and your diet. Set some personal goals and try to have fun with it. When all is said and done, there is stigma and you are not alone
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