The UK entered its first lockdown on 23rd March 2020. Heavy restrictions were put in place to ensure UK citizens’ safety, with such lockdown rules as all non-essential shops being closed.
A second lockdown was confirmed on 31st October 2020, with the UK entering lockdown on 5th November 2020. The lockdown ended on 2nd December.
With the rapid rise in COVID-19 deaths due to the new mutation, the Prime Minister thus announced that the UK would be entering its third national lockdown on the 4th January 2021. This lockdown will be the toughest lockdown since March 2020, and is estimated to last for months, with schools closed until at least the start of March.
Whilst the purpose of these lockdowns has been to ensure the UK citizens’ safety, there has been a reported increase in people suffering from mental health issues since the lockdowns occurred. Nuffield Trust reports a dramatic increase in symptoms of depression in adults, with 19% of adults experiencing depression symptoms in June 2020. Similar trends have also been discovered in children and young people. The Mental Health Foundation has found that several factors contribute towards the decline of mental health, including:
- Being socially isolated
- Financial stress
- Housing issues
- Working in a front-line service (e.g., the NHS)
- Being unable to use coping mechanisms
- Being unable to use mental health services
Whilst we may be unable to control the harsh struggles and challenges daily, we can always learn how to deal with them appropriately. The Mental Health Foundation has provided some ideas on how to protect your mental health during lockdown 3.0, especially during the cold months:
- Reach out for help. If you are struggling in any way, be it financially, mentally, physically, and so forth, seek out help.
- Stay connected. Caroline Osario MD says that ‘loneliness can be toxic for the body.’ So, call or even video call your loved ones. Zoom or Skype calls have also risen in popularity since the beginning of the pandemic.
- Create a routine. Lockdown has almost certainly knocked away our old, daily routines. We may feel restless and mindless. But, if a small routine filled with small, manageable tasks is put in place, not only will you feel less restless, but you may also feel refreshed and alleviated at your daily achievements.
- Reward yourself. When you have completed a task, be it as small as making the bed, reward yourself. You will keep yourself satisfied and motivated.
- Incorporate some exercise. The government has restricted us to only going out once per day. So why not make the most of it? Going out for a walk or a run not only keeps our bodies moving, but it also helps clear the mind and feel refreshed. Plus, there is a plethora of workouts available on the internet, of varying lengths and intensity.
A further tip may be to befriend the cold, dark days of the winter months. This could be a time to slow down and reflect, and even practice being mindful. Perhaps you could take up the habit of journaling, which not only helps you keep track of your thoughts and feelings, but also with feeling mindful.
Meditation also has many benefits, which are not just limited to practicing mindfulness. For instance, Malpass et al found that students who practiced mindfulness training had “reduced anxiety, excessive worry, negative thought patterns and improve resiliency to stress as well as improve emotional wellbeing and professional development.”
Hence, such practices can be helpful. Just a few minutes of meditation can help physically, mentally, and emotionally. Headspace offers many free meditation videos on YouTube and their website. They have also recently released a Netflix series, which aims to help you with your meditation journey.
Here at JAN Trust, we understand how difficult the last several months have been. We hope that the coming months become easier to manage as society reopens.