5 Tips To Cope With The Mental Side Of A Pandemic Lockdown
We are in the midst of the first global pandemic since 1918. The Spanish Flu (which is believed to have actually originated on a military base in Kansas) tore across the globe for two years, infecting a quarter of the world’s population and ending 50 million lives.
Now we have Coronavirus or Covid 19 as it is otherwise known. We have not experienced anything like this in our lifetimes. This is a scary time and in scary times it’s vital that you look after your mental health. I thought I`d write a short blog post on this topic and provide 5 tips to cope with the mental side of a pandemic lockdown.
You can also access my latest 15 part e-course called “Pandemic Survival Solutions” – an in-depth daily course suggesting ideas and strategies to overcome challenging emotions such as boredom and isolation during enforced lockdown. It`s a free course and you can subscribe here or below this article.
While everyone can agree (mostly) on the need for self-isolation and social distancing, it’s still a difficult pill to swallow.
Humans are social creatures, so for those who are locked away at home and only allowed out for essential shopping, being away from other people is difficult. That lack of social contact is going to negatively influence your mental health, even if you’re an introvert.
Furthermore, there is a lack of control, not knowing what will happen and how that influences your mental health. There isn’t just a single mental issue to focus on. You will want to stay informed about what is going on, especially in your own area, but you also have to protect yourself.
For most people, the only reason to leave home is to work if you’re considered essential, or to purchase essential supplies. If you’re lucky, you will also be permitted out for one form of daily exercise.
Even if you’re not living in a lockdown area, its a pretty safe guess that you will also be dealing with the mental side of this current pandemic.
Avoid Negative News
• Tip #1 – The first tip I can give you is to ensure you are only consuming information from reputable sources. False information is continually being spread all over the place, particularly on Social Media.
Not only does this drain you of any positivity but it will also put you at greater risk, by instilling more fear. This will inevitably influence your mental health in a negative way.
Try to distance yourself from all the gossip and opinions from people who are not qualified to voice a professional opinion and are only making the situation more scary than it already is.
Keep Socialising (At A Distance)
• Tip #2 – You might not be able to socialise as normal, but you can still maintain your social ties. In addition to using social media to keep in touch with friends and family, make use of phone and video calls.
If your mother normally comes over for dinner on Wednesday nights, then have a video call on that day and enjoy it together. If you always meet your friend for coffee on Saturday afternoon, set up a video chat and use the internet to your advantage.
Why spoil a Saturday night if you normally like to go out? Enjoy a drink and cocktails with friends (over video chat) and don`t let a crisis dampen your spirits. We still need to recognise some form of normality and live our lives the best we can. We are also in this together so let`s ALL stick together. These are abnormal times and your mental health needs you to think creatively.
Indulge Your Hobbies
• Tip #3 – Do you know all those hobbies you don’t have time for? Well now is the time to get to work! Get your knitting gear or tune up your musical instrument. If you are stuck at home there is now no excuse.
How about mastering a new skill? Maybe you would like to learn how to play the guitar or get your pet dog to behave better? This is your moment!
Of course, I know from a variety of studies that making time for hobbies and getting creative can help beat stress and boredom. This is the key to improving mental health.
See here for more info on how hobbies can help with anxiety.
Face Your Fears
• Tip #4 – You will feel fearful and vulnerable during this pandemic for sure, it’s okay to feel that way. You will feel anxious, that’s okay too. It’s especially scary for people with existing mental health conditions, or people with underlying health issues that will make them high-risk.
You might feel tempted to push these feelings away. Don’t give in to that temptation and don`t be afraid to acknowledge your feelings of anxiety and stress.
Reach out to friends, family or even neighbours to talk about your current feelings and situation. We all need each other during challenging times and communicating your emotions will be a good coping mechanism.
Quit Bad Habits
• Tip #5 – Finally, certain habits will increase your risk during a pandemic, namely drinking alcohol and smoking. While the mantra “everything in moderation” still stands, it’s also important that you stick to it.
Often, stress sends us over the edge and we indulge in bad habits more. Don’t give in to this temptation! Don’t drink to excess or increase your smoking habit, it will negatively impact your mental health and increase the risk of contracting the illness.