Coping with an extended COVID 19 Lockdown
So, June arrived, and the lockdown restrictions were lifted. Hooray!! We were eventually free once again…….but not for long. In September, the government announced new COVID restrictions to deal with an increase in COVID cases which found us once again being separated from close ones whilst robbing us of the freedom that we once took for granted (cue blockbuster film script). so how are we going to start coping with an extended COVID 19 lockdown?
Concerns for well-being and mental health flooded social media which is not surprising given the impact that the first phase of the virus had on us.
Results from the UK Household Longitudinal Survey (UKHLS) looking into the impact of lockdown on mental health found the following;
- Mental health issues (measured using GHQ-12) were a huge 8.1% higher in April 2020 than it had ever been between 2017 and 2019
- In April 2020 over 30% of adults reported levels of mental health issues that required treatment, compared to around 20% between 2017 and 2019
- The estimated levels of common mental disorders in the UK was higher in April and May 2020 than it was between 2017 and 2019 (Public Health England, 2020).
Now that these new restrictions have been put in place and seem to be staying for a while, what can we do to keep ourselves mentally healthy during this stressful time?
This article is going to investigate how certain coping mechanisms can help you to manage yourself and your loved ones through this second phase.
What is a coping mechanism?
Coping mechanisms are strategies people can use to help manage those painful emotions that we’re all too familiar with when dealing with traumatic or stressful life events. These coping mechanisms can help people adapt during stressful times whilst also helping them to maintain their emotional well-being.
People often cope with different situations in different ways and what works for one person may not work for you, but understanding the difference between a healthy coping mechanism and an unhealthy one can help you find the one most suited to you.
It has been found that those who adopt a well suited healthy coping mechanism may be less likely to experience mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
However, those who engage in unhealthy coping mechanisms have been linked with higher levels of depression and other mental health concerns (Thompson et al, 2010).
What is an unhealthy coping mechanism?
An unhealthy coping mechanism is basically anything that is going to be, well, unhealthy and add to your problems rather than aid them. Although this can differ from person to person below is a list outlining the main behaviours that can negatively impact on your already stressful situation.
Unhealthy coping mechanisms to avoid
- Unhealthy self-soothing
- Drinking alcohol to excess or using drugs
- Sleeping too much
- Avoiding tasks
- A lack of routine
So, what should you do instead?? Well, finding what’s right for you can sometimes be a case of trial and error but below is a small list of simple yet effective coping mechanisms that could help you deal with your stress just that little bit easier.
Healthy coping mechanisms to help fight those pesky COVID blues
- Talking. Talking to others about how you feel can often feel very therapeutic and can help you to make sense of any negative feelings that you are experiencing. This can be with a close friend or family member or it could be with a trained professional. Just having someone there to talk to can often help you to see things from a new perspective.
- Relaxation. Taking part in relaxing activities is known to help relieve tension and stress. Meditation and yoga can be great ways to relax, as can listening to your favourite music, going for a walk in nature, drawing/painting and cooking. Find an activity that feels right for you and let your mind wander to positive thoughts.
- Humour/Laughter. You know the saying, “laughter is the best medicine” and sometimes that can be true. Whether it is putting on your old favourite film or speaking about old times a little bit of comic relief can always help you to remember the funnier side of life.
- Physical Activity. Whether it’s a 20-minute stroll or a 10-minute jog around the block physical activity is known to keep the body healthy and improve mental health and wellbeing by decreasing symptoms of issues such loneliness, anxiety and depression (Schulkin & Raglan, 2014). So dig out those trainers and find that work out video…..
We hope that you found this article useful. If you feel you or someone close to you may be experiencing distress or is exhibiting behaviour that you may find worrying, then please get in touch with My Family Psychologist. We have support tailor-made for adults, teenagers, children, families, and couples so do not hesitate to get in touch to see how we can support you.
Public Health England. COVID-19: mental health and wellbeing surveillance report, 2020. Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-mental-health-and-wellbeing-surveillance-report/2-important-findings-so-far#fn:1 [Accessed 3rd October 2020].
Schulkin, J., & Raglan, G. B. (2014). The evolution of music and human social capability. Frontiers in Neuroscience. Available at www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fnins.2014.00292 [Accessed 3rd October 2020].
Thompson, R. J., Mata, J., Jaeggi, S. M., Buschkuel, M., Jonidas, J., AND Gotlib, I. H. (201). Maladaptive coping, adaptive coping, and depressive symptoms: Variations across age and depressive state. Behaviour Research and Therapy. Available at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20211463/ [Accessed 3rd September 2020].