Social Distancing and the Impact on Mental Health

It’s been a few weeks since I last published a blog post for Me Against Myself. I had one lined up as a new blog post, but it’s hardly relevant now. The World as we know it has quite literally been turned upside down. It has affected the lives of so many, if not everyone. We are now effectively in ‘Lock-down’ in the UK. Now this is affecting many aspects of our lives and our freedom is the main element. But also social distancing is having a huge impact on our mental health.

Worrying and Anxious Thoughts

I don’t know about you, but I have had a bucket load of worrying and anxious thoughts. I feel like the vast majority are in the same boat here, we are worrying about the coronavirus itself and either ourselves or our families getting infected. But also, worrying about the impact this social distancing and lock down may have on us financially. Many of us will see our employment, or businesses suffer due to the current situation.

We may also be worrying about food, getting food and the supermarkets potentially having a shortage. In fact, there is just so much you could worry about when it comes to Covid 19.

What can we do about our worries? The main thing to take away here, is that these are unpredident times. No one knows what is happening, or what the future holds. There is so much uncertainty and of course, the climate changes daily. So, it’s almost like having a constant knot in our stomachs waiting for the next wave of news to hit us.

Why not try worry time? No, it won’t take away these worries completely- and they are only natural. BUT it may just help to control them a little bit.

Social Isolation

One of the biggest changes to life is our inability to be social. Now usually we are naturally social beings, however, we are have to put a pause on all social encounters for now. This is obviously for the greater good to help stop the spread of the virus, however it is bound to affect our mental health.

I have always said that a cuppa and talk with a friend does you the world of good. Hugs and warmth from someone else help to comfort you when you’re feeling low are priceless. I have on many occasions cried over the past week, not only because of my worries of the invisible killer, but also at the thought of not being able to see my friends for months.

Never again will I take for granted going for a simple coffee and cake with a friend and discussing life. And what I wouldn’t give to have a girls evening in with one of my best friends, howling with laughter like we usually do. There is so much I wouldn’t take for granted again. Like going on a school run and having that 10 minutes of conversation at the start and end of the day with others.

What can we do about social isolation? Just because we are practising social distance and essentially in a ‘lock down’, it does not mean we need to socially isolate. Keep in touch with loved ones, whether they’re friends or family on social media, by messages or phone calls. I have already Face-timed a friend whilst we both sat, had a drink and caught up. I have also made a phone call at least once a day touching base with friends. At the end of each phone call, my spirits were lifted.

It’s funny, as before this, we had to be careful with social media but yet now social media and our smartphones are our lifeline when it comes to coronavirus. Through them, we can still touch base with friends and family. I encourage you all to regularly call and keep in contact with your friends and family. Before we know it, we will be sipping on a warming mocha and looking into the eyes face to face of those that warm our hearts. Just hold tight for now.

Trapped Inside Our Heads

Not only does the coronavirus lock down mean we will feel trapped inside our homes, but it will also be hugely testing for our mental health. That means that we will also feel trapped inside our heads too.

There is so much more that could cause ourselves low moods, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. It can exasperate conditions that were already there, even if they were fairly dormant. My anxiety had been the best it had been in years. This has knocked it back ten fold. I have cried more than I think I ever have, and I have a constant knot in my stomach with anxiety.

What can we do about feeling trapped? Keep busy. That is the best way to combat boredom and also dwelling on things. Write lists of things you can do, split them into housework, hobbies, self-care tasks, Spring cleaning tasks and if you have children, home schooling tasks. This will keep you busier than you realise. Keep to some sort of routine, create a loose timetable on what you might do each day. You don’t have to strictly keep to it, but it may help.

Looking for the positives.

Try to see the positives in this unprecedented situation, we all lead such busy lives that often we don’t have the time to pause. I am seeing this as life being paused. Of course I miss my friends, and I am worried about the virus itself. But, maybe being cut off from normal life is just what we all need?

Certainly the environment is managing to heal. The world is having a rest. That’s another positive to take from this.

But asides from that, when was the last time you really took time out- a decent amount of time to spend with your family, or partner? When were you last able to spend time doing your hobbies? NOW is that time.

Self-care can come first. The pause button has been pressed. Now we could sit and dwell on it all, or we can embrace this quiet time. It is time we will never get back again. Once life resumes, we will be so busy- and hopefully mindful of every social interaction we ever encounter again.

How are you coping? Let’s reach out, keep talking and support each other through these testing times.

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