Kate Hawkesby: Lockdown is taking a toll on our mental health

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Tue, 31 Aug 2021, 10:18AM
(Photo / 123rf)
(Photo / 123rf)

Kate Hawkesby: Lockdown is taking a toll on our mental health

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Tue, 31 Aug 2021, 10:18AM

A lot of talk around mental health at the moment, and rightly so. 

This lockdown feels tougher, and we’re right to feel deflated by it, our lockdowns are stricter than Australia’s. In Melbourne you can still meet up for coffee with people outside your bubble, exercise with someone outside of your bubble, go out for takeaways, coffees, flowers.  

My girlfriend in Sydney says basically most businesses are considered essential and are therefore open, the same mixing of bubbles applies, and there’s more movement. That’s arguably why it’s spreading faster, but it pays to remember their lockdown is not our lockdown, so we are rightly feeling the pinch of our super strict Level 4 rules. 

Some say the mental health shadow pandemic will be bigger than the Covid one. 

In Australia it already is. There are 342 young people a week in Victoria being admitted to hospital for mental health issues, 40 kids a day in New South Wales. It’s tough.  

Anxiety levels are through the roof, isolation is triggering all sorts of feelings, as is loss of income and fear. Add to that increased alcohol or drug use, more sedentary behaviour, lack of socialisation and you have the recipe for a plethora of mental health issues. 

For parents at this time, it’s super stressful too because on top of all your own worries, you’re worried about your kids as well. 

So how do we keep our mental health in good shape during this uncertain time? Funnily enough, the answers to good mental health often lie in good physical health.  

Experts say good nutrition, getting good amounts of exercise, sunshine and Vitamin D are all key. Limiting alcohol consumption is another good idea – easier said than done for many at this time I know, but also, staying active. 

Knowing all this stuff often doesn’t make it any easier to do it, especially when we’re stressed or anxious, but it’s good to know that we can build resilience even when we don’t feel like it.  

Stress can change our appetite, energy levels, sleep patterns and concentration abilities, but we can do little things too. Like take breaks from all the news coverage, take breaks from social media, take deep breaths or pick up a meditation app.  

We can still connect with others through Facetime or on the phone, just as we try to boost our physical immune systems, we have to also try to boost our psychological immune systems. 

Focussing on positives is hard when the world feels upside down, and for many, the struggles are phenomenally difficult right now.  

I liken this lockdown to being at home those first few weeks with a newborn.  

Walking around sleep deprived and exhausted not knowing what day it is, binge eating, regarding showering and washing your hair as an accomplishment.  

But as author Glennon Doyle famously says, we just have to remind ourselves, “we can do hard things”.