General mental health after the pandemic
To speak about mental health may seem more necessary now than ever. Faced with forced social distancing to protect our physical health the toll to our mental health has been clear. These prolonged periods of social isolation have had the same impact on the brain as prolonged periods of stress, which was not in any form of short supply when the pandemic began.
This stress from changed norms and the quarantine has changed our personalities and had a profound impact on our ability to remember things as well as disrupting our sleep leaving us distressed and exhausted giving a strangely surreal sense to our lives. A majority of this can be accredited to the way we have been trapped at the emotional extreme the pandemic offers. Whether you’ve been waiting for exam results or dealing with the loneliness of cabin-fever the anxiety of the situation has crept into dream-filled sleeps and led to difficulties with attention and memory. This has led to a huge spike in those reporting feelings of anxiety and depression. But the important thing to note is that, under quarantine measures, this is natural and that more importantly we are not facing this alone as now is a challenging time for many of us.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom as whilst it is undeniable the negative impacts that the lock down had on our mental health there were some marginal benefits of being stuck inside. Research has found that school closures have improved the mental health of students in year 9 reducing their anxiety whilst, even despite the pandemic, loneliness hasn’t substantially increased a testament to our resilience in these trying times.
Furthermore, during the pandemic there were also opportunities for community actions such as the clap for carers which all had positive impacts on our mental health. This national display of appreciation was so uplifting due to gratitude’s ability to boost our wellbeing. Nevertheless, as the world slowly reopens its doors, we are at a tipping point for both the virus and our mental health. Whilst for some the covid-19 restrictions being relaxed allowed for a drop in their levels of anxiety and depression as for those with pre-existing mental health issues the anxiety increases as they think of going back out into the new world which covid-19 has created. Some tips for those who are anxious about returning to work or school would be to ensure you wash your hands for only the recommended amount of time alongside wearing a mask to reduce the likelihood of contracting the virus as well as trying to introduce a new positive activity or even pick up an old one. As individuals we have come far since the beginning of the pandemic and I would like to leave you with a quote from the esteemed Viennese Neurologist Victor Frankel which I think summarizes our journeys best, “Endurance itself is the greatest achievement”.