It’s never easy to discuss mental health in general terms, and perhaps one should not do so. However, for the purposes of a particular point I want to make, I will break my own rule in this article.
As a starting position, we first must understand there is a wide range of people already struggling from mental health, pre-covid-19. It is perhaps more common now than ever for people to suffer from anxiety, depression, loneliness and other pressures. I believe this to be because of the rise of social media, which has driven people further way from each other on a human level, and is setting unrealistic expectations for how one should look and how ‘fun’ their lives should be. However, that is for another topic.
During normal practice, if you’re suffering from anxiety or depression, you can manage these feelings by spending time with your friends, working on a hobby, some retail therapy, travelling, going to a nice restaurant; a number of different things. The key is to create a temporary distraction from the things bothering you to clear your mind. Feeling trapped, not having your own space and not having that pressure valve to relieve when things get tough are key triggers for mental health.
Now, imagine if all that is taken away. Suddenly, you are bombarded with propaganda on why you should stay inside; people are policing you to stay inside. You are now in a position were you are trapped, have not got your own space (if you’re living with people) and no longer able to use your life pressure valve. This can be summarised into multiple different examples, but these are a few –
– Stuck at home with an abusive partner
– Stuck at home in an unhappy relationship
– Alone at home which is leading to overthinking
– Stuck at home with all-of-the-above, but with kids to look after also
Suffice to say, if things were hard before, they will have just got a lot harder.
We know suicide rates have doubled, and we know domestic abuse has risen 1000%. This is not something the media like to tell us, because it holds the governing party liable. However, these are sad realities. One metric I am not aware of, and perhaps it impossible to know, is how many people have now started suffering from depression, anxiety and loneliness since the Covid outbreak. I suspect its millions more than the disease itself.
Now that we have established the impact Covid-19 has had on mental health, let’s explore whether it has had a lasting impact on your mental health.
This comes down to my hypothesis and the point I wanted to make is, this can go 1 of 2 ways. Let me break this down:-
1) You can waste your time, or,
2) You can maximise your time
I truly believe each person can pinpoint something that makes them happy. Let’s try it now, I want you to list 5 things that make you happy. Grab some paper or type it into your phone. 5 things. Whether its going on a mountain trek, watching a movie with your family, eating junk food, binge watching Netflix, working on a side hustle. What makes you happy? List 5 things.
Once you have done that, I want you list 5 things that don’t make you happy. Whether it’s you gaining weight, your lack of motivation, being around the same person for too long, not being able to see friends. List it. 5 things.
Now that you have two lists, 5 things that make you happy and 5 things that don’t. You are already doing something profound. You are taking control of your mental health and visually observing things to help you improve.
If you have spent the last 3 months during Covid, burying the things that upset you and living your life without the control you deserve, you have done yourself a major injustice. You are your best investment, you have to manage yourself, which in turn manages and improves your mental health. Society has brainwashed us into thinking this to be ‘selfish’, but treating yourself as a spiritual being first and focusing on yourself first, will not only improve your life, but it will have lasting improvements on the people around you. Your light and positivity will positively impact others.
So has Covid-19 had a lasting effect on your mental health. Possibly, but no. What it will have done is helped highlight some of your habits and natural thought processes – and thus giving you an opportunity to change it. It’s articles like this which will help you shine a light on the areas of your life which give you depression and anxiety, and hopefully give you the tools to grab those feelings by the horns and, you know, wrestle with it for a bit before you win.