World Mental Health Day 2020
This year's theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is 'mental health for all'. Whilst many of us might be experiencing a lack of connection with continued restrictions on ‘normal life’ as we know it, we want to balance these feelings with hope and momentum for a brighter future.
The Impact of Covid-19
Covid-19 has put a spotlight on Mental Health in 2020
80% of people living with mental illness say that Covid-19 and the national response have made their mental health worse
Whilst working at home is a positive experience for many, creating more flexibility, it can also be isolating and demotivating for some.
Many people have been isolated and on their own, which has to varying degrees impacted their mental health through anxiety and/or depression. These symptoms are hugely debilitating if left unsupported.
Reaching out to family, friends, or seeking professional help has become increasingly more vital, now more than ever, to talk about and address mental health issues.
We are finding different ways to celebrate happy occasions despite the restrictions. It is these occasions which remind us of the importance in experiencing joy and gratitude.
According to research carried out by Mind with over 16,000 people, they found that more than half of adults (60%) and over two thirds of young people (68%) said their mental health got worse during lockdown.
Students’ immediate plans for their futures have been paused. Gap year experiences have been halted and lectures have been experienced on-line. With restrictions to the university life experience, many students are unclear about their futures which could lead to anxiety and or/depression.
Are You Paying Attention To Your Mental Health?
Are you experiencing any subtle changes to your mood or behaviour?
Are you withdrawing or isolating yourself from friends and family?
Are you drinking more alcohol than you did previously? (Remember: alcohol can act as a depressant)
Are you turning to old unhelpful strategies to deal with your fears and uncertainties?
It can be really hard navigating life particularly when we feel anxious or depressed. When we hit another bump in the road this might feel like the last straw. The last straw may result in the following:
Panic attacks - when your nervous system goes into overdrive and your thinking brain goes off-line.
Self-loathing- instead of being compassionate and allowing vulnerability in, we experience shame and blame, keeping ourselves shut down.
Self-harm - in moments of desperation, this may occur when needing a release from the build-up of anxiety in our nervous system, rather than feeling able to reach out for help.
Withdrawing and isolating from others – this may happen when energy levels drop to an all-time low and the ability to communicate is just not possible. Our nervous system becomes hypo-aroused and getting ourselves out of bed is a step too far with feelings of lethargy and boredom.
Our inner critic is a voice in our head reminding us not to step too far out of line. We all have an inner critic but maybe unknowingly allow it to have too much power. Our inner critic tends to show up by early painful memories which can at times trigger us. This inner voice has a habit of making us feel inadequate, insecure causing self-doubt among other unwanted feelings.
There are all manner of reasons why we may struggle with self-confidence. For example, if your primary caregiver was a worrier and you automatically picked up similar traits, perhaps you could be growing to become risk-averse in adulthood. Whilst staying safe is important, coming out of your comfort zone in adult life may be really tough. As a result, you may be experiencing symptoms of anxiety and self-doubt.
Noticing where our thoughts come from and challenging their worth in the here and now, can help in making some positive changes. In recognising where our fears come from and accepting that changes need to be made, you are taking a positive step forward.
Ways In Which You Can Help Yourself
Maybe the restrictions of Covid-19 are weighing heavily and causing you some of the symptoms of anxiety or depression. Try to drown out the repeated overthinking that may be going on in your head. You can do this by engaging with your rational brain and voice these thoughts out loud.
Challenge negative thinking with positive thoughts, framing things differently in your mind
Get some fresh air by going for a walk in nature
Move more - exercise releases particular feel good hormones. Whilst you may feel like you are lacking energy, overriding these feelings will increase your endorphins.
World Mental Health Day is so important as it gives all businesses and individuals a platform to talk more about mental health and raise more awareness. There is so much being done already and attitudes towards mental health have significantly improved, but we still have a long way to go to increase our voices.
This World Mental Health Day, make sure to check in on one another; kindness matters now more than ever and we must keep the conversation flowing. It is always better to talk than to keep it inside.
If any of these points resonate with you or you would like some further support, please get in touch via my website www.skcounselling.co.uk. You can also refer to the Useful Helplines section on my website.