Lockdown: The mental and physical impact

Posted in by Lucy Holl

We have probably all endured the advice to ‘stay positive’ one too many times over the last year- although it is indeed very important to maintain a positive attitude, staying positive is sometimes simply not enough to guide us through such a frustrating and uncertain time.

Feelings of fear, isolation, loneliness, and bereavement are just a few of the consequences of the pandemic and unfortunately, existing mental health conditions are being further exacerbated. The condition of our mental health plays a key role in our physical health too, so sufferers of these feelings often simultaneously experience ill physical health such as but not limited to, insomnia, weight changes, increased inflammation, and chronic headaches. It is more vital now than ever that you put your health at the forefront of everything you do.

 

Addiction and lockdown

Chemical addictions, such as the addiction to drugs, nicotine and alcohol can be magnified in situations that cause uncertainty, anxiety or stress- all of which have been heightened since the beginning of the on-again-off-again lockdown last March. Behavioural addictions have also been on the incline as a result, including social media, gambling and shopping, behavioural addictions can be triggered by boredom, lack of motivation and a lack of self-esteem or purpose- all of which can be increased in situations such as lockdown, where there is a lot of time to reflect and overthink.

 

Physical Health and lockdown

Boredom triggers a need for stimulation, and food does just the trick, so it is understandable why after a long week, with no weekend plans to look forward to, some may want to practise good measure of gastronomy.

For many, lockdown has either been a time to positively utilise the given free time to exercise and get fit. Equally, for others, being confined to four walls 90% of the time has led to overindulging and overeating. It is important to remember that treating yourself and allowing time to do the things you love is actually a very integral part of a healthy lifestyle and should be encouraged in moderation, but we naturally do not need as much energy as we usually would when we are staying home the majority of the time, so ideally less food should be eaten the less you move.

Working from home can also cause physical illness and injuries if you do not take precautions- physical ailments mainly to do with skeletal health have been reported among home-workers but also things like headaches and fatigue through not taking breaks frequently enough or not having an established routine though the unfamiliarity of working from home.

 

Important things to remember whilst in lockdown

Everyone is different, therefore different reactions, thoughts and feelings are expected regarding the current situation. There are many demographic factors which can contribute towards the way a person perceives a situation such as gender, age, location and other socioeconomic factors such as education, family dynamic and income.

Some people may have more fearful tendencies and be very scared of the virus, whereas other people may handle the situation with more of a positive light- it is important to remember there is no correct way of dealing with the pandemic, but it is extremely important to remember that not everyone will handle it the same. The conflict of interest which derives from a very expected scope of different opinions, can unfortunately further fuel fear, mistrust, and negativity, especially in the media and online.

 

Tips

  • Try to limit ‘treats’ to one or twice a week and if you are able to, only allow them once you have done a certain amount of exercise (this could even be a brisk walk). This will be beneficial to both your mental and physical health.
  • Having a routine, and reward system is much more fulfilling than allowing yourself to indulge whenever it feels necessary; allow yourself to watch TV, scroll through your phone or anything else you enjoy once you have completed your prioritised tasks first.
  • Talk- as the saying goes a problem shared is a problem halved, so make sure your do not keep your feelings inside if you feel like you need to talk to someone, do. If you feel like you would be more comfortable writing your thoughts into a private journal, do.
  • Keep in the know about your health- health worries are one of the leading causes of stress and anxiety, and especially in current times. Your Health should always be prioritised in every situation.
  • Most likely, your home has not been risk assessed for occupational use. Research specific steps that you can take to ensure your physical safety when working from home. With this, create a work routine with set working hours and break times, and make sure to stick to them. This will help with routine.