COVID 19 and the effects on mental health
As we are navigating our way through one of the strangest and most uncertain times in our living history with the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID 19), as a counsellor, my main interest is on the effect this can have on people’s mental and emotional health. Anxiety, depression and the fear of the future.
Let’s look at different aspects of our daily life that can add to the negative impact you may be experiencing and find better ways to manage how you may be feeling, living with anxiety, panic, fear and uncertainty of what the future holds.
Food, Drink and Exercise
Often overlooked, but how we treat our bodies can play a significant role in our mental health. Consider what your diet currently looks like, as the desire to consume carbs and other comfort foods may be a greater temptation right now. Or you may have less of an appetite if you are not as active as usual? Take some time to look at and then plan a balanced diet, intending to keep your blood sugar stable and create the shopping list to match it, and stick to it.
It may sound dull, but keep everything in moderation, as it the extremes that often affect the physical system. That includes alcohol.
Drink plenty of water, always a given, but many of us need a reminder. Try setting an alarm if it helps.
And exercise – getting out, safely, into the fresh air, makes such a difference to our overall wellbeing, but add onto that some exertion that gets your heart pumping, and you’ll start to move those endorphins around your body leaving you with a greater feeling of joy.
Environment during Covid 19 Isolation and Lockdown
As you are now spending more time in your home, take a moment to evaluate the environment as this will affect your energy levels if there is a lot of physical clutter around you, especially if you are trying to work and be productive in that space. It may be that you require a clear out.
Vary the rooms that you spend time in where this is possible to change things up and stop boredom from taking over.
Have airy open spaces and let fresh air in if the weather permits. Spend time in your garden if you have one. Or spend time looking out of the window at the sky, to give you a sense of space and freedom.
Limit the time that you spend online where possible, especially when it comes to social media, as you cannot control what content you may see. It can create overwhelm, leave you feeling frightened, panicking, worried and fearful about a loved one or yourself catching the virus and it’s more valuable for your wellbeing to be knowledgeable about up to date factual information.
Keep connected socially where you can to avoid loneliness and isolation. Make good use of technology using texts, emails, skype, phone calls, and you could even resort back to the good old fashioned pen to paper letter.
If you are having to work from home, and/or home school, create a healthy work/life balance where possible. However, busy you may be, make sure you find some “me time” every day. It’s not selfish, it’s vital. Self-care is often the last thing we think about when we are worried or missing our loved ones. This can very easily result in self-neglect promoting anxiety, depression, low mood and despair.
Having a structure to your day can be really helpful when you are experiencing feelings that may feel out of your control, such as anxiety or depression. Having a planned daily routine can bring more sense of certainty. Writing out a planned schedule can really help and remind you in times of doubt.
Sticking to your regular waking times and going to bedtimes helps to keep your mind and body what it is used to, even if everything else has changed. Or if you feel that what you were doing was not serving you, such as going to bed late, then use this time to create a new habit.
Plan out time during your day to relax and tapping into your creative side can be very comforting and rewarding when you have feelings of mental distress during COVID 19.
Creative ideas could include;
Arts and crafts – sewing, painting, sketching, colouring, writing poetry or other hobbies.
DIY and gardening – take this time to give your home or outside space a new look.
Music – listening to or playing, very soul-soothing.
Meditation, mindfulness and yoga – there are many resources online for beginners or the initiated.
Or treat your brain to more of a workout, try these ideas;
Read books – some libraries have online apps to allow you to borrow ebooks and audiobooks.
Listen to podcasts or watch inspiring videos – YouTube has a wealth of incredible resources.
Take up a new learning opportunity with an online course.
Engage in puzzles or crosswords – anything to challenge the brain daily.
If at any time your feelings start to feel that they are overwhelming you, then please reach out through my website or Facebook page, and we can arrange an appointment to talk.