These experts have warned that many countries are sitting on a ‘mental illness time bomb’ due to the coronavirus lockdowns imposed by various governments in their efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19. Mental health charities are reporting a huge increase in calls to their helplines and doctors are treating more people for conditions such as depression, anxiety and a variety of stress-related illnesses. The situation is worse for people with pre-existing mental health illnesses and the isolation and lack of social engagement can put a strain on their emotional wellbeing.
There are a number of self-help measures people can adopt to keep themselves mentally and emotionally healthy including:
- Setting boundaries between work and home — as more people work from home, ensure you keep a boundary between work space and relaxing space for a positive work-life balance
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet — vitamins, minerals, protein, carbs and water
- Having a regular exercise routine — walking is the best form of exercise
- Keeping a journal or diary — to write down all your thoughts, worries, feelings and emotions
- Getting outside — just 30 minutes a day is beneficial — even a balcony is good — feel the sun on your face
- Building a support network — call on family and friends when you feel low
- Having a hobby — arts & crafts, writing, learn a musical instrument, singing, cookery
- Brushing up your skills — learn a new language, improve your computer skills, sign up for a college course
Make sure you take the time out each day to reflect on what really matters and recharge your emotional batteries. Have the confidence to say no if necessary and follow the guidelines to keep yourself and your loved ones safe and well. If we all take the necessary steps, however small, to prioritise our mental health, we will develop the coping skills to enable us to deal with the pressures of this worldwide pandemic and shield against the impending mental health time bomb.