COVID-19 and our Mental Health

The introduction of COVID-19 to our lives has been difficult. It has impacted everybody, from the move to working online (for most), and the lack of seeing friends and family- it has been a tough year.  

Covid has affected all age groups, and everyone has suffered as a result. The negative consequences have been high, with increasing anxiety and depression, and even have an effect on our cognitive processes, such as how we learn. It looks like the increased stress and loneliness can even increase aggressive behaviour. When we are stressed, even our brains change- there is an increase in the engagement of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (a part of the brain) when one has been in social isolation. 

There has also been a high increase in depression among adults since the pandemic hit and lockdowns began. Adults showing symptoms of depression have almost doubled since the pandemic began, (office of national statistics) with Half of Brits saying that due to coronavirus, their mental health has deteriorated.

Why has lockdown caused a surge in mental health problems?  

Well, in Great Britain, the top reasons are feeling stressed/anxious, worrying about what the future holds, feelings of boredom and loneliness, and too much time alone. What has also been impacted is the stress surrounding relationships, (53% of people say COVID has created relationship issues), feelings of being a burden, and having no one to talk to. Moreover, due to COVID, being able to access mental health services has also been incredibly difficult, as it is difficult to access the same charities and publicly funded services. 

It is important to have a self-care strategy 

During these times, it is so important to have a self-care strategy. Although it can be a straightforward and easy thing to do, many people forget it, due to working long hours, or not feeling like it could possibly help. However, having a good self-care routine can really benefit you. Ensuring your physical health is taken care of, improves your mental health. Ensure you have a good night-time routine and are careful when you get to bed, ensuring it’s similar times every day. Having a schedule, even when stuck at home, really helps improves the structure of your day. It is also important not to have too much screen time during the day, but especially before bed. The last hour before bed, try and read a book instead and see if you feel anything improving over time. It is important to make sure you are eating healthy and exercising every day, even if this is simply going out for a walk to get some air and relax. 

Focusing on positive thoughts to benefit mental health  

So those are some physical things, but mentally, how can we improve our mental states? Well, a few things we can do include limiting news media, as with the current situation, it can be difficult to receive a constant reminder of the difficulties. The main thing, however, is to try and think of positive thoughts often. There is much research into the idea that simply thinking positive thoughts frequently, can help improve your mental health and mindset. 

Easy ways to begin being more positive, especially in the world we live in currently, can include the 3 reasons to be happy today. That could be drinking your coffee in the morning, and reading a good book, or talking on the phone to a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while- it can really be anything that makes you happy! Being self-aware of negative thoughts and trying to introduce positive thoughts can really boost positivity, and thus reduce anxiety and depression.  

‍This blog post was created with ❤️ by Leah Ophir (Psychology)