There has been a noticeable increase in mental health issues in the last 4 weeks which is due to the impending release of restrictions being imminent. This may sound quite strange as common sense tells us that surely, we should all be feeling better as this is a great movement forward. For many, this is true, but for others the exact opposite is true.
This is due to the suppressed stress and anxieties of the last 18 months beginning to work themselves out of our systems. As human’s we all have our own coping mechanisms and our self-awareness can assess the effectiveness of them. Generally, the self-soothing stuff (such comfort eating, substance use or avoidance) are easy to reach for, but the deficits outweigh the benefits. Self-care such as mindfulness, talking to others, journaling, exercise, relaxation, getting close to nature, eating well or relaxation takes a bit more effort but brings greater rewards – i.e., actual well-being rather than momentary pleasure. Most of us probably use a blend of these that work in normal times.
The last 18 months have been anything but normal times! We’ve all adapted, stressed, cried, been confused, disillusioned and optimistic as we’ve navigated our own path through this historical event. For many, stress and anxiety levels have been high and in these circumstances, we shift into a survival mode where we just get on with functioning. We may not give ourselves the time and space to process what’s happening and how we’re feeling as we’re busy coping with the varying crises of the threat to our normality, our children’s well-being, to our lives, the lives of those close to us or our job security.
It’s only when we have some time and a little space that anxiety and low mood can hit. And it can hit very hard. And it can hit in unexpected ways. We may feel very low, irritable, angry or vulnerable. Our emotions can manifest in covert ways such as developing fears and phobias that weren’t there before such as feeling scared when driving, fears of meeting others or not being able to leave home.
Another factor relates to change. We’ve got used to these relatively new terms of lockdown and Covid and the lifestyle changes and threats they’ve brought. We’re now having to anticipate adapting again which brings more uncertainty and uncertainty can breed anxiety and low mood.
So, if you connect with the above paragraphs, try not to be surprised and maybe try to not think of exact reasons as to why you’re feeling low or vulnerable. When things aren’t good, as humans we seek a reason so we can understand why, but often, this just causes greater distress. It may be time to purely accept how you’re feeling and find ways to regulate your emotions and use effective methods of self-care.
The links below may help you with this –
Coping with Life After Lockdown from online CBT specialist Silvercloud
Help and Guidance to Manage your Well-Being from the mental health charity Mind
From Lockdown to the Relaxation of Covid Rules from the Mental Health Foundation
As always, do go easy on yourself, especially right now as it’s been a tough time.