Dr. John Sheehan
MB, BCH, BAO, DCH, DME, MICGP, MRCGP, MD
The last few months have being a challenging and strange time for all of us in Ireland. Covid 19, restrictions that have being put in place and the stress and anxiety re all the changes have affected us all.
This can affect your mental health. But there are many things you can do to mind your mental health during times like this.
Some people might find it more worrying than others. Medical, scientific and public health experts are working hard to contain the virus.
Try to remember this when you feel worried.
Most people’s lives will have changed in some way over a period of days, weeks or months. But in time, it will pass.
You may notice some of the following: increased anxiety, feeling stressed, finding yourself excessively checking for symptoms, in yourself, or others. You may also find yourself feeling insecure or unsettled, fearing that normal aches and pains might be the virus or having trouble sleeping.
With some parents now working from home or if you live in a shared house, things will feel pretty crowded. Even if we generally get on with those we live with, spending lots of time in each other’s company can lead to tension and conflict.
Be aware of the needs of others in the household. Discuss schedules so that, you can all complete work that requires quiet at the same time. Agree who is going to use which parts of the house for which activities. If you need some time alone, flag this and let people know. Compromise will be needed from all of us. Being able to communicate calmly will be key. Allowing and making space for each other is important.
Without a doubt, the level of uncertainty regarding the impact of Coronavirus, and the unusual measures being taken across the country can be anxiety provoking. Adding to this is the amount of mixed or confused stories being shared via social media.
While most people are sharing information with the best of intentions, it can be overwhelming, and at times, misleading.
In a time where ‘fake news’ is rife, check the original source of information before resharing it as fact. Even posts that look official can be doctored. Go directly to official government and health department websites or news feeds for updates and information.
Although you may be looking for reassurance, don’t get drawn in to obsessively scrolling for Coronavirus information.
The stream of Covid-19 news is endless. Ongoing consumption of this can actually add to the feelings of anxiety. If looking through news feeds is anxiety provoking, only look at your phone at designated or limited times to check for updates from a trusted source.
Feeling isolated can significantly impact our mood. We might not be seeing the people we usually see as social distancing is encouraged. Actively maintaining communication and sharing how we feel with others is crucial at this time.
Technology can be a great way to connect, with individuals or on group platforms. Use Facetime, Skype or WhatsApp, to check in regularly with family and friends. Email, or even old school letters are nice way to keep in touch with relatives who might be self-isolating. Online chat platforms can be a space to share experiences and ideas.
Do take breaks as well from technology. All this increased intense screen time throughout the day and night, without our normal structures will play havoc on our sleep. The measures are working but we have someway to go on this journey yet. Stay safe.