You do not need to go far today to be confronted with the current pandemic. Wearing a mask as a routine and the constant sanitising of hands and equipment is the new norm. It seems as if the news channels are reporting on COVID-19 on a loop and social media constantly posts stories of social distancing, conspiracy theories and stay safe memes.
However, catching the COVID-19 virus is not the only risk — the coronavirus pandemic has become a mental health time bomb! Reports in the media suggest that ‘virus anxiety’ is rising dramatically and is affecting people of all ages across all lifestyles. Many school children have found their return to the classroom extremely stressful, as whole year-groups have been sent home and made to isolate when a teacher or pupil becomes symptomatic. This broken education system has had an impact on many students and has negatively affected their mental health. We have all seen the reports of university students who have been forced to isolate in halls of residence, often confined to small bedrooms with only a laptop for social and educational needs. Very often they live far away from their family, friends and other support networks.
According to current figures, 905 of the COVID-related deaths are among people over the age of 65. This highlights how the elderly are also very much negatively affected mentally as well as physically. Having to isolate in their homes has taken its toll on many individuals, and this is especially true of those who live alone. Loneliness can lead to a number of mental health illnesses. It is evident that the lockdown has had a negative impact in so many ways on many people across all areas of society.
Some helpful ways to support your mental health during the pandemic include:
- Limiting how much time you spend watching the news because many of the current reports are negative and may increase anxiety.
- Try to spend some time every day doing something positive for yourself. This could be crafting, reading or watching something you enjoy.
- Get some form of exercise regularly, even just 10 minutes to increase the heart rate and get the endorphins flowing.
The important thing to remember is that everyone is going through their own difficulties during the pandemic. Now more than ever we should look out for one another and be kind and considerate to those around us.