Let’s Talk Mental Health12 Feb 2021
Humans are social species who thrive from social interaction. Lockdown has resulted in going against our norms and subsequently social interaction has declined significantly. We have been unable to engage and meet up with extended family members, friends, teachers, lecturers and colleagues leading to a depletion in mental health and wellbeing.
Another contributory factor is the lack of opportunities to progress our lives and so feeling at a standstill. Young adults are missing out on life-experiences such as birthdays, spending time with loved ones, celebrating birthdays, enjoying the full university experience, taking school exams, securing jobs, going on holiday and attending weddings and funerals.
Youths living in poverty are struggling to engage in education remotely due to the lack of resources such as laptops and unstable Wi-Fi connections. This has limited their opportunities to exit the poverty cycle resulting in depression and anxiety.
NHS figures show the number of children referred to child and adolescent mental health services was 4,615 per 100,000 and has increased by 20% from 2019. Youths are facing intense levels of uncertainty as their lives are interrupted and decision-making ability is taken out of their hands. This also affects their families due to their lack of routine and motivation causing a further unpleasant environment at home.
A majority of people have felt depression and anxiety in the last year at some point. No one should think they are alone when experiencing these emotions.
So, how can we improve our mental health?
- Go for a walk or jog every day or at least 4 times a week. This releases the endorphin hormone, which makes us feel happy.
- Reconnect with family members in your house by doing a puzzle or play games, which involve communication, e.g; Taboo, Pictionary, Cluedo, Articulate, Apples to Apples.
- Call a family member or a friend and check in on them, offer them any help you can and always remember to not be afraid to ask for help yourself. Make each other smile and laugh!
- Engage yourself in a hobby or learn a new skill, which you would not usually have time to do, e.g; gardening, painting, drawing, origami, sewing, learning a new language for free online or improving your IT skills, such as learning how to operate various software like photoshop or Excel.
- Cooking is a life skill so learn new recipes or bake a treat: ensure you maintain a balanced diet.
- Clean and fix your house or any appliances that need repairing: living in a clean and healthy environment makes us feel fresh.
- Research which careers you would like to undertake in the future and start building on the skills required. Set yourself future career goals.
- Research countries around the world and learn about different cultures. Select your next series of holiday destinations for the future.
- Read a fictional book to take your mind to another place or read an informational book to increase your knowledge on selected topics of your choice.
- Start journaling: record your thoughts and feelings in a diary, include 3 things you are grateful for each day.
It is really important to have a routine every day in order to remain motivated to engage in different activities. This allows us to feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose, no matter how small the activity is. To-do lists are great for remembering what tasks we need to complete before the end of the day. Increasing productivity is fundamental especially in lockdown because if we do nothing, our brains will begin to shut down and we start becoming forgetful.
Remember to maintain resilience because we will get through this!