The Coronavirus has mounted an assault on our health, our society and our economy. It presents us with tough realities on the front line in hospitals where dedicated doctors and nurses are doing all they can to save lives. And in our everyday lives, routines have been disrupted, habits changed, and commitments put on hold.
Whilst the realities of social distancing and self-isolation are certainly undesirable for us all, for people with mental health issues it can become much more unpleasant. The lack of open spaces, quiet time, routine, and social contact can indeed take its toll. However, I want to focus on some positive actions we can undertake to help counter this rather bleak assessment.
The Government, alongside charities such as Mind, have put together helpful tips on how to look after our mental wellbeing whilst practicing social distancing. [Here]
First and foremost, don’t let the lockdown stop you from socialising and staying in touch with friends and family. Technology and apps like Zoom and Houseparty have made staying connected with each other easier than ever. Even if it’s not in person having a chat or sharing a laugh with someone will do a world of good and is important for our wellbeing.
As our lives have been disrupted it’s important that our daily routines change also, but in a way that prioritises looking after ourselves, whilst also following the government advice. This means picking up new hobbies or rediscovering old ones which have fallen by the wayside. Things such as reading and baking can be done alone but can help to reduce stress and anxiety and can be done easily from the comfort of your home.
Additionally, just because the gyms are closed and you’re working from home doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. Take this opportunity to try something new such as jogging, walking and hiking, or home workouts.
The important thing here is not to view the lockdown as a negative disruption to your life, but as a new and unique experience that may have many benefits. There is certainly an abundance of resources at your disposal from charities such as Mind, to the many apps available from One You, such as Couch to 5k, and many other private companies who are playing their part in tackling the crisis by removing paywalls to their services.
Thankfully a great deal of consideration has been given to the impact that lockdown is having on people’s mental health when deciding upon policies and their implementation. The Government and MPs are all too aware that whilst social distancing does reduce the rate transmission, it can cause other complications to peoples’ health. That is why when these decisions are made a wide variety of factors are considered before reaching the appropriate policy. It is not the case that people’s mental health is valued or prioritised less, but that the consequences of uncontrolled transmission of Coronavirus will cost lives and cause irreparable damage.
So I have already made the commitment that throughout this crisis I will continue to work hard to ensure that the mental health needs of the population remain high on the Government’s agenda when it comes to deciding whether or not to extend the lockdown.
I am confident that the current restrictions will not overstay their welcome and will continue only for as long as needed to keep people safe.
We have all had to make changes in our lives. Rather than let them drag us down, let’s do our best to help ourselves, our families, friends and others, to make the most of it.