That there is a mental health problem caused by COVID restrictions, is becoming a commonplace piece of knowledge. Bereavement is happening without the ability to go through traditional mourning ceremonies. Individuals are being isolated by the very nature of social distancing and quarantine rules. And people are losing income, causing anxieties about security and resources. This means that complicated grief, loneliness, anxiety and insecurity are likely to rise in the near future.
How is it possible to counteract these influences, and give people hope of better mental health? Here are some ideas.
MEMORIALISE AND PERSONALISE
To counteract the frustration of loss, loneliness and grieving processes, it is worth thinking about how you memorialise or recognise those you have lost, or those you are separated from. When people are there all around you, you have their physical presence as a constant reminder to interact with. If, however, you are kept largely alone, you don’t have the same sensory stimulation.
- PHOTOS – Think about having more photos around the house, so that your eyes are constantly bathed in reminders of loved ones.
- PERSONAL DELIVERIES – Stop by at others’ houses to deliver, personally, food or small gifts. Without breaching guidelines, you may be able to chat briefly. A little goes a long way.
- ACT IN CONCERT – Make your daily life more significant by synchronising your actions with those who mean something to you, but who are not with you. For instance, Many sports events are happening virtually, so there remains some sense of camaraderie.
- SHARE ON SOCIAL MEDIA – Try to share what you’re up to, and what you’re thinking, on social media. Also try to appreciate others’ posts. This keeps a sense of linkage with others, even when physically distant.
RITUALISE AND CONVERSATIONALISE
To counteract anxiety and insecurity, it’s worth considering putting in place new rituals that reflect your new ways of living. It is also worth ensuring that you are communicating how you feel about everything, as getting it off your chest is a relief, and helps you develop new language and cognitive skills for new situations.
- TIMETABLES – Instead of mucking through a day making it up as you go along, try structuring each day in a way that suits you. Divide your day into discrete time zones: for instance, ‘getting up and ready for the day’, ‘doing set chores’, and ‘winding down from the day and getting ready for bed’ are classic time zones that can easily give your day a 3-part structure.
- COUNSELLING – Whether you use friends or something more official, relational conversation is often beneficial. The two-way turn-taking involved in conversation is an extremely subtle way of improving mental health by preventing a spiral of one-way obsessive rumination. Conversation and counselling can also help to regain perpective, rebalance self esteem, regain confidence, feel reconnected with the world, and establish an atmosphere of caring and being cared for.
The pandemic is damaging mental health by increasing complicated grief, loneliness, anxiety and insecurity. To counteract this, we can:
- Fill our living spaces with reminders of loved ones
- Make personal deliveries of food and small gifts
- Synchronise with others in virtual events
- Share on social media, and support others’ sharing
- Create a daily timetable that works for you
- Speak regularly with trusted friends
- If you need a little extra support, counselling can help
If you would like to arrange some counselling by phone, to see if it helps, then feel free to use the contact page of this site. The first session is always free.