Three common COVID-19 mental health problems that may be affecting you and how to combat them

The global Coronavirus pandemic has thrown us into a collective level of unprecedented change.

The negative impact on our mental health is already beginning to show, according to this research on Populus, while we come to terms with our new way of life.

Whilst it’s impacting people in different ways, as with many mental health issues, some may find themselves struggling to understand how they’re feeling or what to do about it.

In this article, we touch on three of the common problems affecting our wellbeing due to COVID-19 and how to address them.

The worry factor

Feeling anxious, worried or fearful about the pandemic is a perfectly natural and common response.

The relentless numbers, media stories, as well the significant changes to our daily lives have thrown some of us into crisis. And when the body is in crisis, it triggers the fight-or-flight response – a significant hormonal reaction strong enough to negatively affect us both physically and mentally.

In any normal threatening situation, the surge of adrenaline the brain produces to help protect us is very useful. However, as the pandemic is constant, it can leave us feeling persistently on edge, distracted, panicky and simply exhausted.

We can’t change these circumstances we now find ourselves in, but we can change the way we respond to it.

Instead of constantly reading about and watching the news, dedicate a particular time of the week and a reliable source where you can responsibly update yourself. Then return to your everyday life. By taking away the constant triggers, you’re preventing that unnecessary adrenaline rush.

Open up to someone you trust. Avoid someone who is as worried as you are, as this could make you both worse, and try to choose someone you can speak to rationally – a friend, colleague, a trusted neighbour. A weight will be lifted from your shoulders simply by sharing how you feel.

If you would prefer to confide in a professional instead, a counsellor will help you both to understand what you’re feeling and provide you with coping activities to bring your mind back to normal.

Doing the right thing for your family

As parents and carers, we’ve found ourselves in a new daily, distressing balancing act.

Some parents are trying to work from home, looking after children or family members. Whilst others may be furloughed and feeling the guilt and worry that struggling to make ends meet can cause.

There are parents working on the front line and unable to see their children, or about to return to work, and find themselves frantically worrying what’s the best way to keep everyone safe and well.

Whatever your situation, the pandemic has brought about unprecedented feelings of uncertainty and many of us just don’t know what the right thing to do is. This may damage our mental health, leading to stress, depression and feelings of being overwhelmed.

There’s no way of knowing how our decisions will pan out, but we don’t have to accept these feelings as the norm: there are ways of combating these effects.

Recognise what is in your control and focus your energy on those things. You can’t control what other people are doing but you can keep yourself updated on the latest Covid guidance and discuss the importance of the restrictions with your family members.

You could also try positive affirmations each morning and night, or at high-stress times. Repeating mantras such as “I can do this”, “I am capable”, “I am doing my best” puts your mind in a more  positive mindset, even if you don’t consciously realise it. An easy way to positively start and end your day!

Alternatively, consider speaking to a trained professional who can help you make decisions that are not made from a state of stress and fear.

Feeling like you want to give up

This situation is out of our control, and with no end in sight, we wouldn’t be blamed for feeling like we’re powerless, hopeless and can’t do anything to positively change our situation.

Many of us haven’t seen our family or friends for months and this will naturally create feelings of despair, isolation and a low mood in yourself.

This isn’t something you have to accept simply because of the circumstances, and we risk falling into a depression by leaving the feelings to fester.

Try to do things you enjoy, big or small, even if you don’t feel up to it. This might not be easy if you’re prone to only seeing the negatives, but make a conscious effort to focus on the facts rather than the negative emotional assumptions.

Counsellors are trained to help you do this – to help you accept that there are some things you can’t fix – but that you can manage with coping strategies to help you move on. Tools you can use throughout your life.

If you need to talk about how the pandemic is making you feel, don’t hesitate to get in touch: we have counsellors available immediately. Our services are flexible and responsive  – short or long sessions to suit your specific need and budget – we’re here to help.

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