It came as no surprise when the UK went into lockdown for the 3rd time during this pandemic and while Mr Johnson tries to find a balance between economic recovery, saving the NHS and saving lives, it seems mental health really has no priority. Many parents have called for schools to be fully reopened for the sake of their children’s mental health while critics have damned the prime minister for not closing them sooner. Vulnerable people up and down the country have remained behind closed doors for months on end, some alone with nobody to share thoughts with, and yet, we continue to rely on our government to ease our worries. But is there more we could do to help ourselves?
How can I help my mental health during a lockdown?
Current government restrictions have impeded our ability to interact as we would wish, be that over a coffee down at our local cafe or a dip and dine at the community leisure centre. But, while our favourite haunts or “waterholes” may be closed, it really shouldn’t mean us being alone or stuck within 4 walls. Over one-quarter of adults living under lockdown in the UK have felt loneliness as well as feeling alone. Other difficult circumstances brought on by COVID include poverty, unemployment and housing issues – what’s worse is going through these times and having no one with you to talk to.
As we know, mental health is strongly associated with physical exercise, so, socially exercising seems to be our first move towards helping your mental health during the lockdown.
Current lockdown rules state – Exercise – You can continue to exercise alone, with one other person or with your household or support bubble.
Options if you are living alone within the new rules or regulations –
- Find someone who is living within the same circumstances as yourself. Maybe someone who is also shielding or the same age and ask them if they would like to pair up with you to “walk and talk” once or twice a week.
- Ask a family member who is living in another household to visit for a stroll once or twice a week.
- Ask a neighbour if they would like to form a “book club bubble”, maybe you could exchange thoughts over the garden wall or the phone.
- Try to get out for some fresh air, even if it is to potter around in the garden.
- Volunteer your time to talk to others over the phone. Talk Community volunteers are being recruited up and down the country and you will be able to find information relevant to your area on your council website.
- Remember there are also organisations that are there to help you. You can find a long list of organisations specific to your needs on the NHS website / Mental Health helplines.
- Don’t be afraid to ask.
Sometimes our insecurities prevent us from simply asking the question or reaching out. Remember, when you reach out for help, you may be reaching out to someone who also needs that connection.
If you are worried about your finances, or housing, connecting to the right people could ease your concerns. Simply sitting alone dwelling on your worries will only leave you in a much worse position.
Don’t hesitate, make the move today and take the steps you need to take to protect yourself and your family.
Current guidelines for COVID-19 Lockdown UK
Current rules for exercise in public outdoor places include:
- By yourself
- With the people, you live with
- With your support bubble (if you are legally permitted to form one)
- In a childcare bubble where providing childcare
- When on your own, with 1 person from another household
Public outdoor places include:
- Parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
- Public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
- The grounds of a heritage site
It is very important to adhere to government guidelines at all times and keep a two-metre distance when meeting up.
These restrictions may have changed. Please check for an updated version on the government website or with your local council.
It is important to care for your mental and physical health. Remember – Hands, Face, Space!