Thinking back to March 2020 when the Netherlands got their first Covid-19 cases and how no one had any idea what to expect feels so long ago now. I remember naïvely thinking that maybe it would be over by May and I could travel to Italy with my family, little did I know. Fast forward a year to May 2021 and I have become very cynical about things getting better. I can’t be the only one?
Covid-19 has really been testing us for a while now. As an attempt to control this virus from spreading uncontrollably and filling all the ICU beds many countries have implemented various levels of lockdowns. However, what seems to have been forgotten is that mental health is just as important as physical health. Did anyone check how full the psychiatric beds are? News flash – there’s a huge shortage.
How does Covid-19 affect mental health?
The pandemic has had a huge impact on mental health. This effect comes through many different ways – increased isolation leading to loneliness, increased stress due to health concerns, worries about losing your job etc. Mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and addiction have increased drastically. For example, reports about depressive and anxiety symptoms have quadrupled since before the pandemic.
Will mental health improve after lockdown?
Mental health issues will likely improve after lockdown to some extent. However, traumatic events like these can have long lasting impacts on people’s mental health. For example, New York City still has significantly more PTSD and depression than comparable populations almost 20 years after the terrorist attacks hit the city. On a more positive note, sometimes we can also experience “post-traumatic growth” meaning that after a traumatic event we make positive changes in our lives, for example after the lockdown we might not take the dinners with our friends and family for granted any more, but experience more gratefulness when we can be physically together with our loved ones.
How to care for mental health during Covid-19?
Look, I know it’s hard. Depending on our countries, personality types, available network and (financial) situation, Covid-19 has hit us very differently. For some this is just much easier to deal with than for others. There is a few things to keep in mind to stay mentally fit. Firstly, make sure you keep up with exercise. If you can, go for a walk or a run outside, and if not, then you could try some free yoga videos from YouTube in your own living room. Make sure that you keep eating healthy as well. Try to make better choices for food to the best of your abilities – drink enough water and keep eating those vegetables. Meeting up with friends and family, even if online is also extremely good for our mental health. Lastly, you could try picking up a new hobby. I personally spent last spring knitting, but reading books, learning coding, gardening (or indoor plants!), or mindfulness, could all be nice pandemic proof options!
Comment below if you have found other ways to care for your mental health and share it to the community!