If like me you live in the UK you will know that we are entering a new phase of lockdown restrictions. I live in Scotland, and this week we will see harsher restrictions come into force. We have now been living a restricted life for seven months. It has taken a toll on our emotional wellbeing. In a recent study in the Pharmaceutical Journal, 85% of adults reported experiencing some form of depression and 42% of those questioned said Covid was having an impact on their relationships. That’s huge.
In March we were all in this together; we came together as one, all be it apart. It wasn’t easy but it was important and we had hope. The hope that we held to so fiercely as we saw our Prime Minister nearly die. We saw infection rates rise, and hospital admissions increase. Hope, if nothing else kept us going. Then, the R rate began to fall, hospital admissions came down, Boris bounced back and our worlds began to reopen. All we had to do was wear a mask, which felt like a small price to pay. Now it’s October, the R rate is rising, the hospitals’ admissions are increasing and again we are locking down. There is a different energy now. It’s darker. The mood is low. Is hope gone? Are we collectively Covid depressed?
The clinical definition of depressive symptoms include: feeling unhappy or hopeless, low self-esteem and finding no pleasure in things you usually enjoy. I can certainly relate to some of these feelings over the past seven months. Can you?
The first step is to acknowledge something isn’t right and be open to explore change. Below are five ways you can support yourself to tackle depressive moods or thoughts.
Be aware of the food choices you are making. Acknowledge if you are reaching for those crisps or biscuits out of comfort rather than hunger.
Sleep is magical. It’s the brain’s equivalent of putting your phone on to charge. Create a calm environment in your bedroom and get those eight hours a night.
Alcohol and Drugs
Sorry to be the fun police here, but if your mood is low, step away from the booze or whatever you use recreationally. Alcohol is a depressant and the come down from some drugs can often leave you very low for lengthy periods.
To quote Elle Woods, ‘Exercise gives you endorphins and endorphins make you happy’. Moving your body has so many benefits both mentally and physically. Commit time everyday to moving your body in whatever way you enjoy.
I talk about this a lot. I am a firm believer in feelings and emotions being released though either talking to someone or writing. Words are powerful. Use yours to help yourself.
As a caveat if your mood is very low, and simple tips won’t cut it, please reach out to me, a friend or a family member. Please seek the help and support I know you deserve. The Samaritans are open 24/7. In the UK they can be reached on 116 123.
Where 2020 is going to take us next, I can not say. I know if we can be aware of how we are feeling, and acknowledge the impact our emotions are having on us, and others; if we commit to positive change, whatever we face, the journey will be easier.
Remember, whatever you are going through, you are not alone.