National lockdown creates fears for mental health – do we have a different kind of pandemic on our hands?

By Morgan Johnson

An Instagram poll has shown that 89% of 255 people are worried about their mental health this lockdown and 97% of those felt like they would benefit from tips on how to keep their minds active.

In the week the Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the country into a national lockdown for the second time, worries about people’s mental health and wellbeing are rife.

One week into 2021 and already this lockdown is arguably worse than the one last year, the weather is colder, the days are shorter, and January can already be a tough month as it is.

Many people are concerned about the general anxiety this brings, and what it means for this year, especially when it comes to education, the self-employed and when we will all be able to see our friends and family again.

Self-employed carpenter, Will Rowland, 22, from Coventry, said: “I am worried about money due to self-employment.

“I am full-time and need to be out and about to work but I am very conscious that my work means going into a lot of different people’s homes.

“I do feel a bit anxious as to what is the right thing to do.”

Manchester Fashion Institute student, Georgia Whateley, 22, from Coventry, said loneliness is something she worries about struggling with this lockdown.

She said: “Being in a house full of people doesn’t stop you from feeling isolated or lonely at the minute.”

Coventry digital marketing student, Bethany Mercer, 24, is currently having to complete her masters from home whilst being furloughed from her job.

She said: “I work in the leisure sector at a gym doing receptionist duties to fund most of my degree.

“I can’t even go to the gym myself anymore so I’m really trying to keep my mind occupied this lockdown.”

Nottingham Trent business management and marketing student, Keren Harding, 21, from Coventry struggles to see how her final year at university will go as she believes there is a lack of support, which is impacting her mental health.

“We are paying thousands of pounds for sub-par education,” she said.

“I think lockdown is just a completely isolating experience and this time round it is even worse, we’re nearly a year on and in no better position.

“It’s just a very hopeless and deflating time and the future seems bleak, it’s not really the motivation anyone needs in their final year.”

The Samaritans has shared top tips for taking care of your mental health during lockdown and ways in which you can keep your mind active.

  • Pay attention to what you are feeling. Make sure you are putting yourself first
  • Connect with people you love. Facetime, set up quizzes, make time for walks
  • Talk about your feelings. Even if you just sit and talk to your pet it will still be comforting, don’t pressure yourself to have conversations with humans if you feel like that doesn’t help you
  • Keep to a routine. Helpful if you are struggling to stay motivated with any work
  • Make time for something you enjoy. If this is lying in bed watching a series on Netflix, don’t feel guilty everyone is allowed these kind of days especially now
  • Try a relaxation exercise. Yoga is really good for helping to clear your mind. Also ‘How to Quieten Your Mind’ by Anna Barnes is a good book with a page per day to help you relax.

If you are struggling beyond your own self-help, you can contact The Samaritans on 116 123. They are available 24 hours a day or visit their website https://www.samaritans.org/.

Alternatively, mental health charity Mind can be contacted on their website https://www.mind.org.uk/ and searching ‘local minds’. The local number for Coventry and Warwickshire is 02476 552847.

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