With all the news about the wide-ranging economic, social and political impact the Covid 19-pandemic has had across the world, it’s also had a huge impact on something much closer to home for all of us – our mental health.
Studies have abounded showing how mental health levels in the UK have deteriorated since the beginning of the pandemic, with almost half (49%) of the population feeling anxious or worried in the last month and more than two thirds of adults with pre-existing mental health problems reporting that these got worse during lockdown.
You don’t have to look too far to see that we are experiencing a mental health epidemic, on top of the global pandemic we have seen this year. In times when conditions are so adverse for our mental wellbeing, it is so important that we are looking after ourselves – and each other – right now.
How To Look After Yourself
There is no one ‘quick fix’ for mental health. There are, however, behaviours you can practice and cultivate to give yourself the best chance of inner wellbeing each day.
Simply talking about your feelings is one of the best places to start. Vitality Coach Henri Saha says: “I often talk about the “lamp post effect!. If you were to speak to a lamp post once per week about your feelings, fears, dreams, aspirations, this process alone would be helpful. Many people like to journal, this is another way to get your feelings and thoughts out on the page.”
Keeping active is a good way to clear your head if you are getting overwhelmed – even a ten minute, brisk walk can increase your energy levels and your mood.
You are what you eat, to an extent – it’s no secret that eating food that is good for your physical health will have a positive impact on your mental health, too. It’s important for your mental wellbeing to look after your physical wellbeing, and adapting your diet can be a great way to do this.
How To Look After Others
You’ll have seen – whether it’s from the stats at the beginning of this article, or just from anecdotal evidence from your friends and family – that there are so many people struggling with their mental wellbeing, when we may not always notice. Now, more than ever, is a brilliant time to engage with others, to reach out to them and to have a conversation about mental health.
Henri Saha says: “Let’s go back to the lamp post, shall we? As a coach, all I have to do is be a little bit better than a lamp post. Just listening attentively is incredibly powerful – could you be a lamp post for someone? Just listen, without judgement, and give someone the space to pour their heart out. You don’t have to have solutions, you don’t have to “fix” the situation. It is incredibly rare to have the opportunity to be truly heard, so if you can do that for someone you will already be helping more than you know.”
What does this mean for the future?
While the number of people experiencing mental health difficulties does seem to have skyrocketed during the pandemic, this doesn’t mean that most people were absolutely a-ok before Covid-19 entered and affected our lives. Even after we find ourselves over the worst of the pandemic, it is so important going forward that we keep mental health at the forefront of our minds – not only our own, but our friends’, our coworkers’, and anyone we happen to be interacting with on any given day.
Looking after our mental health was so important before Covid-19, and that has not changed – the pandemic has just cast an even brighter spotlight on issues so many were struggling with before. Moving forward into this strange, new, post-Covid-19 world, it is more important than ever that we look after ourselves and each other.
If you’re looking for more information about mental health, check out our article on the 10 biggest mental health questions.
As a Vitality member, you could get 30% off an annual subscription with Headspace. Plus, earn Vitality points from other mindfulness apps. Available with eligible health insurance, life insurance and investments plans. Log in to Member Zone for the details.