We can all agree that for many if not all, this year has been a bit of a challenge and it’s definitely taken a toll on our mental health.
Of course, countless hours indoors have caused many of us to experience a little slip in our wellbeing (thanks COVID). Dr Adrian James, the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists has even gone so far as to call 2020 the worst year for mental health since World War Two. He spoke to The Guardian:
It is probably the biggest hit to mental health since the Second World War. It doesn’t stop when the virus is under control and there are few people in hospital. You’ve got to fund the long-term consequences.
Not only have people all over the world experienced less time socialising and exercising and more time enclosed in their four walls but masses of people have also experienced both job losses and losses of their loved ones.
Mental health charity Mind confirmed around Christmas that there was indeed a ‘mental health emergency’, adding that ‘2020 has been a year of anxiety and uncertainty and more people need us than ever before’
According to Mind, from March until July there was a 15% increase in urgent referrals for mental health. July alone experienced 2,276 more referrals than July 2019.
And, Centre for Mental Health has also confirmed that 8.5 million adults and 1.5 million children would have experienced adverse mental effects due to the pandemic.
Joe Rafferty, chairman of the Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA) and chief executive at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust claims that they’re getting busier and busier every week. He spoke to the Metro stating:
Often, we don’t have any beds and we’re having to work really hard to make sure we’re able to discharge patients in order to bring other ones in. That’s a very big challenge.
How can we keep on top of our mental health?
For many of us, there are a few tricks we can use to ensure we are keeping up with our mental needs.
Try taking some quiet time during the day to meditate. The simple act of breathing in and out and clearing our minds can help to lower levels ofstress and anxiety as well as increase our ability to concentrate.
Staying in touch with your friends and family can also be a big player in our mental health. Remember you can always visit those in your bubble. And, if not keeping in touch with loved ones virtually can increase feelings of well being, decrease feelings of depression, as well as help cultivate a positive mood.
Keeping a daily routine will also help to regulate your mental health. Try going to sleep and waking up at a similar time every day as well as eating your meals at a similar time. It is also a good idea to make sure you keep up with personal hygiene and take regular breaks away from your screen. Ensure that exercise is also part of your routine, even if it’s just a few minutes. And most importantly, make sure you take a little time for the things you love.
It also helps to be kind to yourself. We are not all going to be feeling at our peak everyday and it’s more than normal to be feeling a little down or unproductive. It’s better to just accept that some days are better than others and not be too hard on yourself.
Of course, the most important tip is to seek help when you need it. Whether that is the help of a crisis line or a medical professional, it’s never a bad thing to look after your own mental health.
If you do feel you need professional help then reaching out to your local health provider is a great place to start. Otherwise, you can try hotlines such as Samaritans who are available at 116 123 day or night. Or, check out the NHS’s list of helplines to find one that better suits your needs.