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The importance of maintaining your mental health during a pandemic

Friday, September 4th, 2020 | Blog

Decades from now, students and adults alike will learn about 2020 and how it completely changed the world. For those living in it though, it’s been a difficult period of change, self-reflection and stress all brought on by the way we’ve collectively had to change the way we live.

As social beings, our lives are entwined with the need to interact and socialise with those around us. If the lack of socialisation wasn’t enough, a news cycle that primarily focused on the negatives of the pandemic also likely contributed to the stress and anxiety of people across the UK and the world.

A study conducted by The American Psychology Association found that people who actively watched news coverage were much more susceptible to stress, anxiety, fatigue and even sleeplessness.

According to the Office for National Statistics, twice as many people in Britain are reporting symptoms of depression compared with this time last year.

One in five people appeared to have depressive symptoms compared to one in ten before the pandemic. (ONS – August 2020)

It’s also been a year of uncertainty for everyone, with the economy entering a record-breaking recession, people losing jobs across the country and everyone having to adapt to the new normal, it’s unfortunately likely that mental health across the country has seen a noticeable increase.

So what can you do to better protect your mental health during one of the most peculiar years on record?

There’s not really a specific answer for this and what works for one person might not work for someone else. The most important aspect to consider is that if you think you are living with a mental health illness, please contact your local GP or healthcare establishment and arrange an appointment.

If you need immediate support and help, please contact your local mental health crisis team - you can find out more about them here. You don’t have to have a mental health crisis or diagnosed condition to experience the symptoms associated with different mental health illnesses.

Anyone of us can feel anxious or stressed about a big change in life or a set of circumstances out of your control. It’s important to recognise these symptoms early on and consciously attempt to ease those kinds of feelings. The following steps are not a cure for mental health illnesses, but we hope that following general mental health well-being steps will help individuals keep on top of their feelings and thoughts.

Express your feelings to others

One of the best steps you can take in practicing better mental health awareness is communicating with those around you. Internalising and processing negative thoughts alone can further exacerbate any symptoms you may have, while discussing them with others means you aren’t alone. One cause of suicide in men - who are three times more like to commit suicide - is the fact that they historically haven’t always been great about opening up to those around them.

Be Physically Active

First, we just want to say that you can’t exercise depression away, but physical exercise can go a long way to raising your self-esteem and keeping you motivated. Having a planned exercise regime will give you something to aim towards and keep your mind active. Your brain also releases several chemicals during exercise which can positively affect your mood, which is why you always feel so great after going to the gym.

Learn a New Skill

2020 has been the year of finding new hobbies and learning new skills. With all the time we’ve had to spend at home, more and more people are reconnecting with past hobbies or picking up something new. Learning a new skill boosts self-confidence, helps create a sense of purpose and it can connect you with like-minded people in your area.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself

You don’t always have to learn a new skill or go out and exercise, sometimes it’s just nice to take some time for yourself.  If you don’t feel like being overly productive, don’t force yourself too as you’ll likely end up frustrated or annoyed. It’s important to rest and take time for yourself, we can’t tell you how to do that as everyone has their individual way of relaxing. This has been an unusual year for all of us, and many people are in situations they wouldn’t have ever imagined happening only a year ago, so it’s natural that some people may experience stress, anxiety or other symptoms of a mental health problem or disorder. While we hope that these steps help you practise mental wellbeing, if you think you may have a mental health illness please get in touch with your local healthcare establishment and book an appointment. The sooner you seek support, the sooner you can get on the road to recovery. Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-53820425

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