Mental Health in Times of Covid

How often do you hear the words “in these unprecedented times”? Over and over, we’re told of the difficulties the world is facing due to this pandemic. It’s everywhere you turn to: on your tv, radio, newspapers. It’s in the lips of everyone you come across, their health concerns, financial worries, fears for the future. We are living in unprecedented times, indeed. But where does that leave us, exactly? What am I supposed to with all of this? How am I to take care of myself then, like all the experts tell me to, protect myself and protect others, adhere to all social distancing rules and stay home in this lockdown, while at the same time making sure I don’t fall down a pit of despair?  

I know a lot has been written on this subject already and I am, by no means, presumptuous enough to believe I’ll have anything new to add on this topic. However, I still feel the need to talk about it. I mean, it is impossible not to! Some days are particularly hard. Whenever it seems like there is a light appearing across the horizon, a signal that it will all be better soon, something else happens to pull the rug right from underneath my feet. I know I am not the only one feeling like this. Yes, we are all in this together. But braving a storm can be a very different experience if you have to do it in a yacht, a small wooden boat, or swimming for dear life until your arms give out from exhaustion.

At times, this can all feel like too much. It is tiring, depressing, demotivating. Finding your inner strength has never been so hard. The world seems like a strange and cold place and you worry you may never get back on your feet again. Trust me, I get the feeling. In this past week alone, I have lost my job (I saw it coming but it still hurt) and had to deal with trying to rethink my life, at the same time as I offered support to a good friend of mine with a parent in the hospital. Any other time, a normal time, so to speak, I would have been able to go out and meet my friends, have a few drinks, a good chat and some strong hugs. I would have been able to see many jobs are still available, so it wouldn’t feel as depressing to lose mine as it did now, as most businesses are in trouble, or closing down, and not exactly hiring in mass. I would have been able to go to the hospital to visit my friend’s parent and stay there with her, in support, rather than only talking to her on the phone, listening to her sobs as she cries for having to leave her father all by himself in a hospital where, due to covid, no visitors are allowed.

Unprecedented times… How am I supposed to take care of my mental health when everything around me seems to fall apart? At times, I just want to lay down and fall apart myself.

Photo by United Nations COVID-19 Response

Then I remember: this too shall pass. To me, this is my mantra, my beacon of hope. I just have to hold on, carry that belief with me that I will make it through, I will get to the other side of this and I will be around to see things improving, hug all the people I love again, go out and live in a world that resembles what I remember as normal.

This virus has created chaos, no doubt, in more ways than one. It changed everything and took away a lot of what we once took for granted, such as our freedom to socialize! These lockdowns are increasing our fatigue and leaving us close to a breakdown. But don’t ever underestimate your resilience! We are, all of us, so much tougher than we know. We can get through this, I know we can. However, we need to look after ourselves better than we ever have.

Our mental health is worth investing in. Take the time to look after yourself, really look after yourself. Reach out to others. One of the most fantastic things we have on our side right now is technology (they didn’t have that during the Spanish Flu!), use it. Call your loved ones and friends regularly, don’t worry about being a burden. Chances are, they want to hear from you and may not call you precisely because they don’t want to trouble you either. Check if they are all doing well, sometimes being available to simply listen to someone can make all the difference in the world! So, listen to their troubles and concerns and open up about yours too! Share. Then lift each other up!

Talking does not make us weak, on the contrary, it makes us stronger! If you still don’t want to talk to someone you know for any reason – maybe you’re going through something that you don’t think they’ll understand or you don’t want them to be concerned with how much this situation is affecting you – then remember there are always other ways. You can still find mental health professionals working all around the globe, providing assistance on the phone and even online. There are also charities and organizations that offer some support for free, like The Samaritans in the UK – it’s a non-profitable organization, if all you need to do is talk, they will listen, free of judgement.

Yes, these are unprecedented times. I really wish they weren’t. I wish we knew what we are dealing with and how to make it all better fast. I wish we could go on with our lives and travel, get together, go to events with large crowds and cheer for our favourite band or our football team in unison, like we used to. But, for now, I’ll be grateful for the little things: my health, having a roof over my head and food on my table, my family all being ok. I’ll keep trying to practice my breathing exercises, focusing on the things that I can do and letting go of what I can not change, taking it one day at a time.

Our mental health is worth looking after, regardless of the times. Living in this covid era just means you’ll have to be a little extra vigilant with yours. I hope you are all safe, healthy and managing to remain hopeful for a better future.

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