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How coronavirus might be affecting your mental health

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The world feels very different than it did just a few weeks ago.

People's work lives may well have changed significantly, either working from home or perhaps even not working at all. Those with children are probably trying to supervise school lessons, or empty nesters have had older children return home because of university closures.

As if all that's not enough to contend with, it's quite natural to be feeling anxious around the virus itself, worried for friends and family, and loved ones who are at high risk. The 24-hour news culture and social media also means we're never really that far removed from the latest statistics or scary headline.

Many people are also feeling anxious about the future, maybe feeling insecure or worried about money.

So how will this all impact our mental health?  Living and learning how to manage all of the above, on top of any everyday issues that we all had before Covid-19, is a huge adjustment, and it feels like there has been very little time to process all this change because it's happened so quickly.

The truth is that how this situation impacts on each of us will be unique. In the short term, some people will be struggling with physical and social isolation. Or maybe, at the opposite end of the spectrum, it feels overwhelming to have the whole family at home with nowhere to 'escape' to, especially with the closure of gyms, pubs and restaurants.

Parents will have additional pressures of trying to support children through enforced isolation too as they are separated from school, friends and social and sporting activities. Add in school assignments and feeling that nagging guilt that they should be spending at least some time productively (or not in front of a screen!) and it's not surprising if you are feeling completely overwhelmed or inadequate!

Isolation goes against our social nature. Even when we have family members around us, it's not usual that we spend so much time in each other's pockets without the distraction of work, school and usual activities.

It's important to acknowledge and talk about how you are feeling, with a family member or a trusted friend. Sometimes, especially if you live alone, just taking the time to call or chat to a friend or family member over video can go some way to relieving those feelings of isolation.

If you're frazzled by the kids, vent to one of your friends in a similar position and swap tips on how you're coping.

Be kind to yourself: if a friend told you they didn't feel like they were doing a very good job, you would probably point out they were doing the best in difficult circumstances. It's ok to tell yourself that too!

Making the most of being able to get outside to exercise, even if it's just for a slow walk, gives you a break from being within the same four walls. 

Everyone has an off day, and it's important to allow yourself to acknowledge when you're feeling low. But the low days turn into low weeks and you're really struggling to motivate yourself, maybe it is time to speak to a professional and get some support.

As LionHeart counsellors we expected to see an increase in referrals throughout the Covid-19 crisis, with the high amount of anxiety and uncertainty that a situation like this can create. Indeed, demand is rising, but we do still have capacity and would encourage any RICS professional (or their partners!) who feels like they might need support to give us a call. We are still here for you and have continued to offer our counselling service without interruption as we switched to home-based working.

Mark Hodson MBACP is one of the LionHeart staff counsellors.

  • Find out more about LionHeart counselling here
  • Find out how Mike's health anxiety was impacted by Covid-19 - and how we helped here
  • Need to talk? Call the LionHeart helpline on 0800 009 2960

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